When it comes to revitalizing a downtown, people often think of structural and tangible improvements. However, frequently there is more to the picture than the appearance of the downtown. A successful downtown revitalization project focuses not only on a community’s buildings and structures, but on many factors including the demography of the area, the overall attractiveness to visitors and investors, along with business development opportunities.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program is a comprehensive four point approach to support economic development efforts of rural communities, based on the US National Main Street Center Approach.
The four point approach to Downtown Revitalization includes:
- Economic Development – Identifies new businesses opportunities that could complement the downtown mix and assists merchants in targeting new customer/market segments.
- Leadership and Management – Engages downtown stakeholders in the improvement of all aspects of the downtown’s operation by ensuring activities are coordinated and strategy implementation is managed to maximize downtown revitalization opportunities.
- Marketing and Promotion – Ensures the identity and positive image of the downtown is communicated and that activities enhance the downtown.
- Physical Improvements Identifies improvements including restoring facades, streetscape enhancements, parking, and creating safe and walkable communities.
OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization Program supports a comprehensive, integrated approach that yields tangible short-term results as well as fostering a multi-year commitment. It recognizes that each community has unique architecture, cultural traditions and talents that are assets to celebrate, conserve, and build upon.
This is the first in a series of posts regarding the Downtown Revitalization Program. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization Program visit our website or contact your Regional Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor.