In this next entry in our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program, we take a look at preparing your preliminary work plan, and the importance of “quick wins” to the initiative.
Before starting to collect and analyze data, you need an overall work plan to guide the Management Committee and Coordinator over the duration of the initiative. The team should have a strong grasp of the entire strategic process when developing the work plan, to ensure the scheduling of tasks considers:
- The potential to use data collected in one activity (e.g. business and resident surveys) to inform subsequent activities (e.g. community design workshop)
- The availability of resources and volunteers to carry out the tasks when required, including the level of effort and time required from the coordinator
- The municipal budget planning process, and the need to submit short and long term projects for municipal council approval in the preceding budget year
Your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor can assist you with scheduling major activities, and provide templates to assist with the development of a comprehensive work plan.
Developing your work plan also offers a chance to tackle one of the key challenges you may face – keeping the team and community engaged and energized in the initiative, particularly through the less visible activities like data collection and analysis. The work planning stage is a great time to identify and plan for some highly-visible, high-impact activities that will help to promote and generate ongoing support for downtown revitalization.
We call these projects “quick wins.” They could be a new event, new seasonal decorations for the downtown, or animation of empty storefronts with artwork or activities. For example, when Owen Sound launched their downtown revitalization project in 2016, they held a kick-off event in a vacant storefront. The space was purchased in the following months, and has been fully-occupied by a wood gallery and studio for over a year. Owen Sound also repainted the light standards and tree grates in the downtown, installed new banners, and worked with Koodo to paint a mural on one of alley walls in downtown Owen Sound.
Brainstorming ideas should not be a problem. Given a few hours, the management committee can likely come up with a long list of potential projects. The challenge will be to prioritize those projects so only the most feasible – those with the highest ease of implementation and impact – are implemented over the duration of the downtown revitalization initiative.
OMAFRA’s Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisors can help you work through these early issues, and often remain a key member of the Management Committee over the duration of the planning process and into the implementation stage. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization Program visit our website.