MainStreet Cleveland members and other interested parties were invited to a brainstorming session at which they received direction and identified the needs for increasing commerce and drawing businesses into the MainStreet Cleveland area.
Todd Barman of Barman Development Strategies probed members for answers after taking a tour of the downtown area Tuesday.
During the afternoon meeting held at the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce, members were asked to begin recognizing the need to improve the downtown area by noting certain “anchor” points or businesses, and utilizing placement of those points to bring businesses in common to those locations.
Among landmarks, or anchors, were Lee University, the Museum Center at Five Points, Ever After Bridal, The Catch, Café Roma and many others.
Barman was able to get the group to recognize a possible need to invite chain retailers or food establishments downtown.
“What if you had a ‘Restaurant Row?’” Barman asked.
Recently, MainStreet Cleveland began the Downtown Dine- Around, which was very successful, according to Executive Director Sharon Marr.
Eateries in the downtown area provided samplings for participants as they visited each establishment.
Restaurants in the downtown area are in several locations.
Barman’s ideas included possibly having groups of food vendors in closer proximity.
“I can go into Catch on Friday night and recognize the patrons,” said one participant.
“On Saturday, I can go to a chain restaurant on Paul Huff Parkway and not know anyone. Why is that?” he asked.
Barman essentially answered the question by indicating the anchor points (or locations of the eateries) were key to economic development and corporate strategy in placement.
“The ‘IDEA Initiative’ (Ignite Downtown Economic Action) is a plan by Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Appalachian Regional Commission to Tennessee Main Street-designated programs. The program is to provide assistance to refining our economic development strategies,” said Marr.
Barman was contracted by the Tennessee MainStreet Program as consultant.
To date, Barman has had the opportunity to visit seven of the 29 Tennessee MainStreet communities.
He will be contacting the board of directors for MainStreet Cleveland with his report of findings learned during the workshop.