2016 was a pivotal year for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. It was a year of reflection, change, and growth as an organization. Here’s a look at some of our most memorable moments:
In 2016, we coined the phrase, “HDR 2.0”. Bringing a new executive director on board is just the beginning of a new phase for our organization. Andrea Dono hit the ground running on January 4, 2016 and hasn’t slowed down since. Her extensive experience in Main Street revitalization and community-based economic development made her a natural fit for HDR. Over the past year, she has focused on building partnerships and inspiring the board of directors, committee members, and staff to approach revitalization in new and innovative ways.
For the first time in HDR’s history, our director of resources, Lauren Huber launched a “friendraising” campaign to raise friends and funds to help support our mission. Friends of Downtown are a loyal group of supporters who donate annually to HDR and recognize the impact our organization has made over the past 13 years. They call downtown the “best thing about Harrisonburg”, but realize there is more work to be done. Our goal for the campaign was to raise $15,000 by December 31st. We exceeded our goal and raised $15,725! Together, our friends donated more than $39,000 to HDR in 2016. If you missed an opportunity to support the campaign, you can still donate here.
Our new events coordinator, Jeremiah Jenkins made his mark with Skeleton Fest – a brand new event to celebrate Halloween and diversity in our community. In addition to trick-or-treating, there was an awesome party at the Turner Pavilion featuring costume contests, fire dancing, live music, art, light shows, and weird fun dubbed as “wacky shacks, goober blobs, and whisker biscuits”. New partners and community groups worked with us to translate our posters and outreach efforts into Spanish, and to build a community ofrenda, a traditional Mexican alter devoted to celebrating their ancestors around the same time of the year. Check out photos from the event.
Over the past two years, we’ve amped up our merchandise line to feature more than just t-shirts. 2016 was no different! We rolled out a brand new print and a deck of deals. “Get Outdoors” is a 12” x 18” screen print, designed by local artists Matt Leech and Jeff Guinn, that celebrates the endless outdoor adventures within minutes of Harrisonburg. It is the 2nd print in a series of five that will make up the Back the ‘Burg collection – a compilation that represents parts of our city that residents and visitors love most.
The Deck of Deals will help you decide where to eat, shop, or play in downtown. Each card deals out $5-25 off your purchase at a participating downtown retailer, restaurant, or museum. There’s more than $400 of savings in each deck. There are limited quantities, so get them here before they’re gone!
HDR helped secure more than $100,000 in new funding in 2016. We partnered with the City of Harrisonburg, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, and the Build Our Park Committee to obtain a $99,500 grant from the USDA to expand the farmers market pavilion.
In November, Governor McAuliffe awarded Harrisonburg a $15,000 Building Entrepreneurial Economies planning grant. HDR teamed up with the City of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, JMU’s Madison Center for Community Development, and the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center early in 2016 to apply for the grant, which will be used to conduct a market analysis. The study will give us a better understanding of the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County market, and the data we need to help retail businesses identify and attract new customers, strategically expand into new products and services, and sharpen their competitive edge. We’re anticipating the research and analysis to be completed by late 2017.