HDR serves as the liaison between the City of Harrisonburg and the business community. In early 2019, we were busy understanding the new sign ordinance proposal so we could make recommendations and alert businesses of possible changes that could impact them. We worked with the city on looking for ways to ease downtown parking & found that swapping permit parking with 10-hour spaces was a quick opportunity to “find” more spaces in the decks. We are in constant communication with all stakeholders about trash pick up so we can maintain the best curb appeal we can.
Bricks & Clicks
We know that online sales and a strong internet presence is the key to success for small businesses …And, we know that a really cool brick & mortar atmosphere builds buzz and sales. We launched Bricks & Clicks in 2018 to help small businesses become stronger in both their online & offline destinations through inspirational speakers, one-on-one technical assistance from experts, and mini-grants. We haven’t completed our first round yet, but one business with declining sales has already let us know that they have made a comeback, and a new business made changes that have already boosted online sales by 30%. We’re still managing this year’s grantees and will offer this economic development program again in 2019.
Business Communications and Convenings
HDR meets with the Friendly City Merchants each month to plan retail-focused events and promotions throughout the year. We develop campaigns and projects together like Winter Wonderfest. As part of that holiday campaign, HDR coordinates the Cookie Tour in December each year. Coming up in 2019-2020 is a comprehensive shop local campaign!
We also convene all businesses quarterly or more frequently as needed to make sure the business community gets a chance to know us and each other, bring up concerns and issues, get updates on HDR and city projects, and coordinate upcoming promotions. We provide email updates to communicate in between meetings, too.
David F Denman Façade Enhancement Grants
HDR has funded 100 projects and awarded $196,050 in façade grants over 13 years. Our Design Committee is comprised of several architects and design professionals who advise on new construction, rehab projects, and interior spaces – either as needed or in conjunction with grant applications. We are getting ready to launch another grants round in early 2019. Our last round funded $16,000 in projects, including Magnolia’s side patio for more outdoor dining, Simplicity’s sign for their new brick-and-mortar space, a historic neon sign restoration at Gitchell’s Photography, the backyard patio of Pulp & SBC, the new sign for Frame Factory, and additional signage for Midtowne Market.
Taste of Downtown
We start working on the annual Taste of Downtown promotion that happens each March the year prior. The 2019 event will include a fresh look with a new brand; classes and events; a passport promotion for diners to earn cool merch; and a series of collaborations, promotional deals, new menu items, and other special ways to celebrate the culinary scene downtown. We promote downtown restaurants using targeted digital campaigns and ads as well as print ads in Edible Blue Ridge and media outreach.