This has been a transformational year for HDR. After intensive planning and defining the next phase for our organization, we’re prepared to leap into our 15th anniversary year with big plans to invest in downtown, business owners and the community. Keep a lookout for details about our plans for next year in January, but first, here’s our 2017 highlights:
Friendly City Fortune
Four hours. 50 prizes. One prize awarded every 5 minutes. The Friendly City Fortune was a game changer for our organization. We gave away a total of $250,000 in prizes, including cars, trucks, trips, and $30,000, and while raising $197,000 for the Friendly City Fortune Fund. This fund will be used to make a direct impact on downtown. Early next year, we'll start announcing how some of these funds will be used. Stay tuned!
The Friendly City Fortune kicked off a larger Valley Fourth celebration. We expanded the kids' activities and capped off the event with better fireworks thanks to our sponsors Jack Brown's, Sustainable Solutions, and Clementine.
Where are some of the ideas coming from for the Friendly City Fortune Fund projects? You! In April, we hosted the first ever Idea Pop Up at Agora Downtown Market sponsored by The Gaines Group Architects with a tasty donation from Kline's Dairy Bar. Multiple interactive stations creatively collected community feedback and ideas for downtown. Thanks to the participation of more than 200 people, some common themes popped up:
- Build on Harrisonburg's strong sense of community through promoting togetherness in events and enhancing gathering spaces.
- Create experiences with a focus on family friendly, inclusive, and unique offerings.
- Continue making downtown more walkable and bikeable.
- Beautify downtown with more greenery and art.
- Support local business owners and promote shopping locally.
We were overwhelmed by the excitement our Idea Pop Up created and have another planned in February!
Facade Enhancement Grants
The Facade Enhancement Grant program assists businesses and property owners with significant improvements to their building exteriors. Since the program's inception, HDR has awarded over $175,000 to more than 100 projects downtown.
This year, we awarded $16,000 to fund seven business owners. We'll be celebrating the completed 2017 projects in January.
Together with our economic development partners, we secured a grant to conduct a market analysis to get data and strategies on how to best develop retail in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The findings of this regional study will be shared with the community on Jan. 10th at 8 am in Court Square Theater. Our hope is that by sharing this data and strategies, businesses can reach more customers and property owners can make informed choices about recruitment. We won another grant to fund a program called Bricks and Clicks that builds on this study. Look for an announcement soon to register for a workshop on Feb. 27 focused on creating strong online and physical business destinations with an opportunity to apply for technical assistance and grants to make new ideas a reality.
A Citywide Brand
HDR teamed up with Harrisonburg Tourism and the City's Economic Development Office on a new citywide branding initiative. We hired Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, a community branding and urban planning firm, to facilitate the process. During Ben's visit, more than 200 community members participated in a series of focus groups and public input meetings to help us identify what makes our community special. So, who are we?
We are Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg has long been home to a rich collection of fertile lands and warm, welcoming people.
As a community, we pride ourselves on valuing education. We believe education begins early, and there is always a chance to learn and grow. From our amazing schools to the Explore More Museum, education here is truly a city-wide effort. We are a University Town, and proud to be the home of nationally recognized institutions of higher education. We draw some of the world’s most gifted students to learn and enrich themselves, and go on to shape the world.
We are thrilled to be located in this amazing valley, surrounded by natural beauty, and shaped by the experiences it provides. We are never more than a few minutes away from hiking, biking, fishing and skiing. As the hometown to Massanutten and the gateway to Skyline Drive, we truly invite the world to come explore and enjoy our quality of life. Our world class access combines with our down-home hospitality to create a true escape.
In the heart of our historic downtown, a movement is growing. From our preserved buildings come some of the most amazing flavors, unique shops and award winning brews. From new investment comes downtown housing, fresh farmers markets, and vibrant events. We are truly becoming a center for activity and creativity throughout the valley. Explore our unassuming nature, our welcoming vibe- a feeling we call our Friendly Flavor.
For over 80 years, we have been known as the friendly city. And the statement still rings true. From a warm welcome, a genuine interest, a helping hand or a anonymous gift, the caring nature of a true community is one of our greatest treasures. With over 50 languages spoken in our local schools, and refugees and immigrants who we call neighbors and friends, we constantly look to grow with the experiences of others. Inspired by our agricultural roots, our frontier spirit, and our faith based compassion, our community and its stories are much like a patchwork quilt, stitched with care, to form a true tale of friendliness.
We are Friendly by Nature.
Throughout 2018, you'll see downtown's brand and personality come to life. We'll reveal new logos. We'll launch a new, interactive website. And, we'll be dedicating more resources than ever to promoting downtown as a destination, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
Get ready! 2018 is going to be a great year for downtown.
If you wish to support our efforts, consider donating to our end of the year fundraising campaign. Donations are being accepted through Dec. 31. Make a donation here.