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Each quarter, Emporia Main Street collects data for an area roughly identified as “downtown”.  We conduct business outside of this area, but our original state reporting requirements that were tied to certain loan funds required us to report on a more centralized area.  To maintain consistency in reporting, we have continued to report on changes to the geographic region north of South Avenue, and south of 12th Avenue, with a western boundary of the Lowther buildings and an eastern boundary of the Civic Auditorium.

Although we do offer assistance to many businesses and projects outside the aforementioned boundaries, net improvements in the community should reveal themselves statistically within the community core if our programs are effective.  Some call this a “big data” approach, which is catching on with many different organizations as they seek ways to show if actions taken are actually generating progress (click here for more information)  The following is what we found for calendar year 2014:

$2,491,146 was invested in the community core in building rehabs, public improvements and buildings sold.

$1,986,625 was the economic impact of Main Street events (we utilized a standardized event impact calculator to determine economic impact).

15 New Businesses created 52 jobs

5 Existing Businesses relocated downtown creating 17 jobs

8 Businesses were lost resulting in 20 jobs lost.

So, we had a net 12 Businesses gained, a net 49 jobs gained, ~3,000 hours volunteered and a dollar impact of $4,477,771 reinvested.

We don’t have the ability to collect information on changes in revenue generated at local businesses, but we do sample local businesses that are willing to share information.  Most businesses that shared information for 2014 were at or above 2013 sales levels.

Many businesses indicated that 2014 represented a significant shift in traffic patterns within the downtown area.  Restaurant options, in particular, were cited as traffic drivers that brought more people into the core at lunch and into evening hours.

Retailers and restaurants surveyed stated that Main Street events had a significant and positive impact on their businesses.

New initiatives, like the Veteran’s Banner Project, were mentioned by local businesses as “traffic builders”.

Main Street believes in measuring activities to determine success.  If you don’t measure (or can’t measure) data related to successful outcomes generated from activities, how can you determine if goals, missions or visions are being accomplished?  Main Street doesn’t do things “just to do things”.  We don’t hold a Midnight Madness simply to say “we held an event!”  We create activities and generate resources for the specific purpose of producing positive, measurable impacts on the community.  When an event like Midnight Madness works, sales go up and businesses can invest in buildings and hire staff.  When we raise funds for revolving loans, buildings are purchased and businesses are started/expanded.

The goal isn’t simply to “do things”.  It is to do things that are strategically designed to produce impacts.  As we said, the impact of the Main Street organization goes far beyond the downtown core, but we hope the information included in our quarterly reports can continue to hold us accountable for the creation of innovative programs that move Emporia forward.

Remember, the initiatives generated through Emporia Main Street come from you.  What can we do better?  What would you like to see done that we aren’t currently doing?  How would you like to partner with us to produce more momentum for our region?  Contact YOUR Emporia Main Street, volunteer, and let us know how you would like us to improve.

See this article and MUCH more in this week’s Emporia Main Street E-newsletter!