The Main Street board chimed in on a review of their program and is positive in working with the city to possibly incorporate some of the ideas.
The board looked over a review prepared by Christopher Jones with NewTown Partners, as he discussed some of the programs' weaknesses and ways to improve the program at the board's first meeting of the year on Thursday morning.
Jones was hired as a consultant in October 2012 by the city council to review the Main Street Covington program. The review was presented at the city council meeting on Monday.
The report includes four sections - organization, economic development, marketing and public relations and event planning and management - which all discuss the current conditions of Main Street and changes that can be made.
Main Street board chair Dan Walden asked for Jones to briefly discuss the highpoints of the extensive, 30-plus pages of the report.
Jones told the board that he tried to get into the heart of the program to see how the organization was set-up, what was the programs outreach to the community, who was the programs support, and what were some of the challenges the program faced, but he also noted some of Main Street's successes.
He again pointed out, as he did at the city council meeting, that the city needed to consider hiring a part-time administrative staff member to help with the routine tasks of managing the Main Street Program.
Jones explained that an additional staff member would allow Main Street's Director more time out of the office to help promote downtown Covington. He said if there was an additional staff member, the director could focus on partnering with organizations that could help bring merchants to the downtown area and also reach out to media outlets with press releases and articles that highlighted the merchants in Covington and the opportunities within the city.
After Jones discussed several other focuses of the review, he opened up the floor for questions and comments from the board. The board noted some of the suggestions they thought would be helpful to the program.
Walden said he liked the suggestion in the report of having maps that featured downtown merchants on Main Street available at Covington's Visitors center. He said maps were already in the works.
Board member Clara Deemer agreed with Walden and said maps at the Visitors center did help to bring people downtown. She gave the example of the maps, which led visitors on a self-guided movie tour, as something that was already taking place to help bring people to the downtown area.
Susan Kirk shared with fellow board members how she opened her business Scoops, in Covington. Kirk said she had never been to Covington before at the time and that an employee with the city of Covington, who frequently visited her Madison location with his family, made the suggestion that she visit the downtown square and possibly open a location.
She agreed with Jones in that Main Street could benefit from reaching out in the community in order to bring businesses to the area. Several other ideas were discussed during the meeting by board meeting, but comments were cut short due to time constraints.
A few of the board members stayed behind after the meeting to discuss the review further with Jones.