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Monday, April 7, 2014

501(c)3 Formation Meeting, 2/26/27

501(c)3 Formation Meeting, 2/26/27

Attendees: Kerstin Martin, Danuta Majchrowicz, Jennifer Murphy, Sany Cheropovich, Nick Cheropovich, Tracy Scott, Isaac Pineo, Becky Pineo, Viki Allin, Amanda Allin, Tom (?)

    •    Discussed having a 2 organization structure
    ◦    The foundation:
    ▪    a 501c3 with a governing board of DMBA representatives as well as other community voices/stakeholders with knowledge, vision, and resources outside of the DMBA representatives
    ▪    It could be an organization with different subcommittees that run different DMBA projects, and/or an organization that serves as a fiscal sponsor to semi-autonomous projects/groups (e.g. DMBA, Second Saturdays, Summer Concert Series).
    ▪    The vision would that the foundation acts as an umbrella organization for obtaining funding (esp. grants) and coordinating projects/groups that benefit the downtown.
    ◦    The DMBA would continue to operate as a roundtable of business owners. 

    •    Brainstorming for mission/vision of both foundation and DMBA, with a focus on the big ideas and dreaming big (notes are organized by topic)

    •    First Steps

    ◦    Assessing current situation
    ▪    need to assess the problems and think of the solutions

    ◦    Researching to find other models
    ▪    need models for what we want to be, how to overcome issues
    ▪    need to find examples of other towns that are doing it well, or have similar organizations

    ◦    Defining “downtown”
    ▪    20 square blocks - downtown
    ▪    projects could physically take place outside of the city as long as they benefit the downtown

    •    Mission - Vision - Goals

    •    Filling a niche
    ▪    other organizations exist to improve Meadville, but they have other focuses -- there isn’t one focused specifically on retail, or on downtown businesses

    •    Increasing optimism
    ▪    need to overcome pessimism from past efforts
    ▪    need to cultivate the city’s sense of self-respect, to have people that are happy to be here

    •    Attracting more people to the downtown
    ▪    need people with money to come and spend it
    ▪    important to draw/benefit Meadvilleans of all income levels -- people from the more disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t make use of the downtown, perceive it as snooty
    ▪    need to have more kid/teen activities, places to go
    ▪    need better Allegheny presence downtown: college hangout, study spot, offices -- need to draw more students down here
    ▪    lack of good housing makes it less attractive place to live, so people are living elsewhere and shopping elsewhere

    •    Recruiting new businesses
    ▪    need resources/recruiting for new business
    ▪    need a certain quantity of businesses to draw consumers

    •    Improving aesthetics and safety
    ▪    vacant buildings, and some other aesthetic issues need to be addressed
    ▪    role model: other towns that are quaint and historic but well-kept. We have the potential, a lot of history
    ▪    expand “Market Alley” look - more planter boxes
    ▪    need to clean-up language people use on the street, yelling at bus stops
    ▪    perhaps try to increase happy police presence, walking the beat -- work with new chief

    •    Marketing the downtown
    ▪    need to define the downtown’s image
    ▪    need to promote/expand on Meadville as an art destination--we have so many resources in this area; we need to nurture them
    ▪    need better online presence, search engine optimization could help
    ▪    people don’t know about what’s available, or see elsewhere as being better
    ▪    bringing the downtown to Allegheny to increase awareness of offerings

    •    Training and retaining skilled laborers and professionals
    ▪    need to offer incentives for youth to stay
    ▪    need better training, more skilled local labor; locals cannot advance in the industry
    ▪    need to promote vo-tech
    ▪    need to attract college grads back, maybe with loan repayment help
    ▪    big businesses -- how do they affect the retail/services market? They are hiring from outside the area for higher level positions, and these employees are living outside the area (e.g. Erie) and don’t consider sourcing services/products in Meadville
    ▪    need Mark Kilburn to interview all the youth that decide to stay here!

    •    Political advocacy
    ▪    need to engage in local politics -- get someone on city council
    ▪    need to increase advertising for local elections -- turnout is low and margins are close

    •    Partnerships to increase downtown offerings
    ▪    partnerships with charities
    ▪    organizing festivals/music downtown
    ▪    organizing tours/walks
    ▪    QR codes throughout town, scavenger hunts
    ▪    Rhododendron Festival

    •    “Assignments”
    ◦    Send Isaac ( additional ideas you have in terms of the vision/mission/goals of the DMBA and the umbrella foundation.
    ◦    Finding good examples of existing groups/cities that are doing this well (Danuta, and Becky). Andy Walker would be a good resource for this.

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