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Friendly City Fortune

May 9, 2018 by Andrea Dono

We’re a month into our second Friendly City Fortune raffle fundraiser and we wanted to continue building excitement by sharing the projects that last year’s raffle is funding. Raffle proceeds contribute towards projects that directly benefit Harrisonburg; align with community values expressed in surveys, Idea Pop Ups, and focus groups; and create a downtown that we all love. Here’s exactly how:

Economic Vitality

  • Destination Downtown Grants: HDR is awarding $25,000 in grants to community members, organizations, and businesses with cool ideas to help make downtown a destination alongside us. Dig out your wishlists, grab some partners, and think of creative ways to attract people to downtown.
  • Parking Study: We’ll be hiring a firm to conduct a parking study in partnership with the City to get recommendations and solutions to help our growing district.
  • Small Business Assistance: We love downtown businesses as much as you do and helped pilot a three-part program featuring a “Bricks & Clicks” workshop with a national marketing expert, one-on-one time with local design and marketing experts, and $37,000 in grants to put new ideas into action. Fortune funds helped us meet our match for a state grant to pull off this major program.


  • Downtown Park: HDR has been one of the forces behind the proposed park behind City Hall. We spend a lot of time working on this community-driven effort and can now spend more money trying to make this vision a reality.
  • New Banners: The banners on the street lamps are faded and torn so we are designing new ones at long last.
  • Beautification Projects: Together with volunteers, we’re zeroing in on projects that boost aesthetics using art, greenery, and pedestrian amenities, which is what you asked for in the 2017 Idea Pop Up! Stay tuned for another Pop Up focused on a specific project area later this year.
  • Facade Enhancement Grant: Attractive buildings contribute to an inviting atmosphere and boost business’ bottom lines. We’ll be opening the 15th round of David F. Denman façade grants to support building improvements this spring.

Downtown Promotions & Marketing

  • Connecting with Hotel Madison Guests: We published a full-color magazine for each room featuring – you guessed it – downtown. Fortune funds helped us leverage a state grant that contributed to this project.
  • Winter Wonderfest: We love working with the Friendly City Merchants to make downtown magical for the holidays. We are thrilled to finally be able to afford new holiday decorations to replace our faded ones. It may not snow this December but Main Street will be illuminated with beautiful snowflakes!
  • Valley Fourth: This event gets more and more expensive to produce because we’re committed to making it awesome. We’re able to supplement our sponsors’ contributions to feature a better fireworks show, live music, and tons of activities for everyone to enjoy.
  • New Website: Our new website is designed to market downtown businesses and attractions to a wider audience and to engage tourists and locals alike through an interactive planning tool. New features will continue rolling out this summer.
  • Billboard: Tons of cars cruise along Rt 33 from West Virginia each month. We plan to design a billboard ad to direct them straight into downtown so they can see what they’ve been missing.


  • Organizational Sustainability: We are building our financial reserves and investing in the organization so we will be able to ensure the sustainability of HDR for years to come. When HDR thrives, downtown thrives.
  • Friendly City Fortune 2018: Our goal is to sell all 5,000 tickets this year, but they won’t sell themselves so last year’s funds cover this year’s marketing expenses.
  • Volunteer Program: We are getting back to our roots by engaging more volunteers to help build a vibrant downtown so we are investing in a new volunteer program and building our human capacity so we can do more as an organization with and for the community.