Engle said that improving the nighttime economy is never a quick fix and can include many different aspects like getting more businesses on the Square to stay open later, getting more people to live on and around the Square, more evening events being held on the Square, more entertainment options in and around the Square and improving lighting on the Square.
“We heard a lot about people on the lake, tourists,” said Reinders. “When you go some place on vacation or to relax you want to do something in the evening…we want to go out to dinner, we want to walk around in the evening, maybe do some shopping, see a show, some kind of live music…that’s part of what we’re talking about. We want to really try to capitalize on that market.”
Other areas Engle and Reinders highlighted for attendants were how to address parking issues on the Square, how to help business owners address building and facade improvements, incorporating artwork, sculpture and bike racks into the Square, and stitching the Square, the larger city, Rathbun Lake and the country together as one interconnected area, instead of separate entities.
Beyond the physical aspects of the Square, they also addressed how the city and businesses reach out to visitors, including online presences, as well as advertising and marketing approaches for both businesses and tourist attractions as well as the city.
Overall the duo urged anyone who is working on improvements to get on the same page and decide what success looks like and to have a unified message.
“I think if it were us…I’d get in this room with all those groups that have some kind of interest in the downtown and I would draft some kind of vision statement for what you want your downtown to be,” said Engle. “Look for opportunities to work together.”
“It all stitches together,” said Reinders. “It all works together to create an experience…shopping is a social experience too. It’s a way we interact…that’s why you have to sort of create this environment that people want to be in.”
Following their presentation, Engle and Reinders took questions and visited with anyone interested. They will submit a complete written assessment about their visit in the next few weeks.