Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, this entry will take a look at building your downtown revitalization team.
The motivation, energy, and commitment required for successful revitalization should come primarily from the community. Those from outside of the community may provide interesting insights, but revitalization only works when members of the community, local government, and local businesses commit to ensuring the long-term success of revitalizing their downtown.
A revitalized downtown has the potential to benefit the entire community, so the lead organization may identify potential partners from across the community, and not just within the downtown area. Organizations like Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), Chambers of Commerce, service clubs, and non-profit organizations can be key resources to engage and align with. The organizations and individuals to engage will depend on the specific characteristics of the community.
Regardless of the team assembled to run the initiative, an organizational structure that promotes leadership while maintaining the engagement of stakeholders is recommended… The DR Coordinator’s Manual has an example you can use for your team. Whether publicly or privately managed, this structure has proven to organize and engage stakeholders in the initiative. The key pieces include:
- A Management Committee that sets the vision and goals of the initiative, but also manages resources for the organization. The Chair acts as the leader and spokesperson.
- A Downtown Revitalization Coordinator hired by the Management Committee to facilitate and coordinate the DR initiative.
- Working Groups to undertake on-going work in areas like marketing, design, or economic development; or temporary/one-time duties focused on specific issues or opportunities (e.g. business attraction, market analysis).
The way you organize your team can be adapted to your community’s needs. Further, the structure on day one of the initiative does not need to be complete, nor does it need to look the same as it will on the final day of the planning process. Other considerations like budget, risk and liability, and incorporation should work into the discussion about organizational structure as well.
OMAFRA’s Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisors can help you work through these early organizational pieces of your initiative. Your OMAFRA advisor may remain a key member of the Management Committee for the duration of the planning process and into the implementation stage. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization Program visit our website.