Fort Thomas is not alone in trying to cultivate a Renaissance within their business community. This article run in Alberta, Canada could be a good playbook for some of the candidates running for Fort Thomas city council to help our business community thrive.
1. Don’t remain “everfresh.” We need to keep evolving as a business community. New business is good. Competition is good. Changing the look of our stores and content is critical. This “everfresh” concept comes an energy that people will pick up on. They’ll know that we’re a living, energetic community. So this means that buildings need to be maintained, cleaned and repaired. Disrepair speaks volumes to the consumer. So do weeds growing around buildings and lots. We need to show how much we care about our downtown and our towns.
2. Allow buildings to remain empty. We need to encourage store owners to keep these buildings active and engaged in our downtown. Empty stores and “Closed” signs give the downtown an abandoned look — and nobody shops in a ghost town.
3. Don’t advertise or promote your business. Being the “best-kept secret” in southern Alberta is not really a way to grow your business or to be sustainable. We need to get the word out there of what we have to offer, and why we’re the best alternative.
4. Don’t clean the streets and sidewalks. If the streets remain rutted and iced, that’s an area of danger that discourages people from venturing out — especially the locals, who know what the conditions are going to be.
5. Don’t have a future vision. What worked 30 years ago works now. Or does it?
6. Believe that the Town should be responsible for all our marketing and promotion. Really, we need to take the bull by the horns and find different ways to promote ourselves. We have so much to offer, and so many ways to do it. We need to develop initiatives, and then get our municipal governments — and potentially provincial governments — to help us find ways to cinch the deal up.
7. Don’t build new retail space. What was here — or what remains standing — is good enough for the future. We won’t think about the hardware and lumber stores, gas stations, and other buildings that have disappeared over the years that contributed to our business core.
8. Don’t find ways to increase walkability. People shopping where they live has a built-in cash base.
9. Don't rely on local media to help get your word out. Who knows the business community better than those who cover it?
10. Don’t shop local. We’re promoting how just shopping, dining, living and loving our communities can make all the difference in the world. It’s here that you’ll relax. It’s here that you’ll make friends. It’s here that we’re connecting. It’s here that you will have the lifestyle that brought you here, or kept you here, all along.