The Faribault Main Street crew of volunteers have been busy this year – and they are about to get busier. When Bruce Burkhartzmeyer took the helm as the Board of Directors Chair in January, he brought an ambitious plan that we should have a Main Street representative visit all of our members – an Every Member Visit. So far, I have a list of 162 businesses inside our Main Street boundaries and 18 businesses just outside of our area, so you can see that it is truly an ambitious task. But we’re up to it and the purpose of the visits is three-fold.
First, we want to make sure that everyone is aware of what the Faribault Main Street program does for Downtown Faribault – what we have done, what we plan to do, how we advocate for local businesses and building owners, and how we promote and enhance the downtown area. Every business and building owner within our boundaries is a member of our team – whether they know it or not. And everyone is invited to take part in our efforts to strengthen the very neighborhood that produces their livelihood. We want business owners, managers, employees and building owners to understand that we are all in this together, and as a group, we are much stronger and viable than we are as individuals.
Secondly, we want to learn more about our members. What products and services they offer. What changes have they made recently and what changes are they planning to make in the future. How have they effectively marketed their business and what can we learn from them about what hasn’t worked. What businesses or product lines would complement theirs? And most important, what can Main Street do to assist their efforts at strengthening our area.
The third purpose of the Every Member Visit is to form a grass roots donor support program. We are in our third year as a designated Minnesota Main Street community and our volunteers have worked very hard in establishing a solid base. That base has been built brick by brick and we feel it is a solid foundation on which we can continue to build. We hope to garner enough funds from a donor support program to solidify the program to the point that we can start making tangible investments back into our area. We have taken on the task of making sure flower baskets line our streets in the summer, but we also recognize that we need holiday decorations, we could use new street banners, and we all would benefit from bigger and more effective festivals and advertising promotions. Building owners have the City of Faribault micro-loan program to improve their facades and we would like to offer a complimentary grant program to really give our buildings a shot in the arm. Together, all of these efforts will make our businesses stronger, our property values improve, and all of Downtown Faribault more vibrant.