Downtown Chattanooga Alliance Looking Toward Overall Landscaping Plan, Gift Card Program

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus

Now almost a year old, the Downtown Chattanooga Alliance is beginning to make long-term plans for what they want to accomplish, and are beginning to look at how they can expand their presence on social media. Matt McGauley of the strategic planning committee laid out what the committee wants to do starting in early 2021.

“We are having discussions and are really focused in on starting to prepare an RFP to send out to the landscape and planning community in early 2021,” Mr. McGauley said. “I believe the best use of our time and focus at this point is listening to what the community is interested in and starting to put together a well thought-out master plan for landscaping and beautification in the district.”

“This doesn’t need to happen piecemeal without any sort of governing document for what people want to see over time. We’re really focused on seeing how we can bring together a master plan for our district when it comes to landscaping and beautification.”

Executive Eirector Steve Brookes said the DCA also has several short-term initiatives as the holidays approach. Because of COVID-19, the Alliance is unable to put together large-scale gatherings downtown like they would in almost any other non-pandemic year.

He said there might be a way for the DCA to have some in-person events that would be both socially distanced and provided with ample PPE and hand sanitizer, but said ultimately they have moved on from that idea. 

“We’d be able to deep clean after people move from one venue to another, but as the cases have increased, we’ve decided to pivot from that,” Mr. Brookes said.

The executive director said the DCA could buy gift cards from downtown businesses, and then could utilize social media and other more traditional forms of media to give those cards away.

“We could also hire someone to build our social media brand, and utilize these gift cards to follow us, like us, and get our name out there,” Mr. Brookes said. “If they get X-amount of people to follow or like, then they’d get a gift card for doing that. There’s other organizations we could also partner with to help us spread the word.”

Mr. Brookes said that with the rise in COVID cases, these gift cards could also come with masks and hand sanitizer, as well as information about policies for the businesses that those gift cards are affiliated with.

“So let’s say maybe it’s a restaurant, and that restaurant only has 10 tables and won’t allow parties larger than five to 10 people at a table. So we want to package that together and let them know what the policies are for the business they receive the gift card for and how to be safe.”

Board member Kelly Fitzgerald said it would be prudent for the DCA to create some sort of three- to five-year strategic plan for the alliance. She said the landscaping plan is a good start, but that the entire alliance needs to have a plan for implementing and planning the alliance.

“I’ve been part of one strategic plan in Boston, and it did not begin when the BID there formed,” Mr. Brookes said. “The BID in Boston brought in a professional strategic planning facilitator to facilitate what people wanted. He did a lot of different things, but there were about 50 people involved - residents, business owners, stakeholders, and even young office workers who worked downtown.”

 

Chairman Steve Hunt said he thought it was an excellent idea, and something the executive board will get together and discuss at a later date. Because there were not enough board members to amount to a quorum, no items were voted on during Wednesday afternoon’s meeting.


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