COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS + RESPONSE TO COVID 19 | Thursday Webinar Summary, March 19,2020

03/24/2020 10:13 AM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

In response to the closures resulting from social distancing measures to address impacts of the Coronavirus, DCI has started a webinar series, which will occur every Thursday from 9:00-10:00am covering various topics on the response to COVID-19 and how people can support each other while maintaining the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing. DCI’s Thursday calls are part of DCI’s initiative to convene commercial districts to share resources and ideas during this time of COVID-19. With only two days notice, 94 people registered for the first call.

DCI’s Commercial District Members, from Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs), Main Streets, Creative Districts, and local governments are taking the lead in supporting small business and communicating with citizens. These unprecedented closures caused by COVID-19 are encouraging the sharing of resources, streamlining communications. innovative thinking, and creative solutions to support local businesses and members of the community. DCI’s goal is to help establish a go to resource for you to access peer community responses and share ideas on a regular basis throughout this crisis. 

On Thursday, March 19th DCI had our first webinar of the series. The first webinar was led by DCI board member, Terri Takata-Smith of Downtown Boulder and her colleague Julia Simpson, who shared the Downtown Boulder response to COVID-19 as it is evolving. DCI also shared a spreadsheet for commercial district leadership to add the links resources and contact information for each community’s response efforts so that we can collect and share the information being developed in each community. The bulk of the call was different districts sharing their ideas and responses to generate a great list of things we can do right now! 

Read some of the ideas generated and join us this Thursday to share more ideas to grow this list! 


COMMERCIAL DISTRICT RESPONSE TO COVID 19 
BUSINESS COMMUNICATION TOOLS

Develop stronger communication networks and use tools that make it easy for businesses to receive and share information! 

  • Slack
  • General Channel for all businesses to communicate
  • Business type specific channels (ex: restaurants, retail, second-story)
  • Private Facebook Groups
  • Segmented Conference Calls
  • Email lists
  • WebEX meetings 
  • Experienced Business Leaders are hosting the calls, providing help/advice for younger businesses


COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION TOOLS

Make sure the community knows how to support businesses and protect their safety! 

  • Hashtags (#LovetheLocal, #SupporttheSprings)
  • Selfie contest #keepingoldtownestrong (Arvada)
  • Sharing pictures of people in the community
  • Google Doc with business updates, closures, event cancellations
  • Website with all the information in one place -- https://supportthesprings.com/ 
  • Support Local Campaign
  • Business Directory update with current state of each local business
  • Website from BID – shows new ways businesses are operating  -- www.DowntownDurango.org/supportlocal


INITIATIVES FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF BUSINESS

Different types of business can respond in different ways so be sure to think through how to help each kind! 

1.     RETAIL SUPPORT 

  • Encourage Gift Card Sales
  • Gift Card Drawings for people who buy card and post to social
  • “Bonus Bucks” – add $5 for every $25 gift card purchase  (Laramie Main Street)
  • Possibility of being supplemented by local Main Street or DDA
  • Downtown gives $10 gift card for every $25 spent downtown until end of March (Grand Junction)
  • Local business matching gift card purchases to $1000, encourage other businesses to match (Leadville)
  • Free Candy Giveaway (Grand Junction)
  • Every $10 purchase, free candy from larger local business


2.     RESTAURANT SUPPORT

  • Takeout Takeover (Olde Towne Arvada)
  • Use Arvada App, businesses can sell gift card through app
  • Creativity from Businesses Videos from bartenders on how to mix drinks
  • Delivering liquor
  • Restaurant Week adjustment – making website adjustments to go with takeout etc.
  • Employ food workers/restaurants workers/chefs to serve senior citizens
  • Have restaurants cook for transient populations temporarily housed in hotels/motels


3.     SERVICE SUPPORT INITIATIVES

  • Workout Wednesdays
  • Zoom Yoga or other online classes offered from local gyms or studios
  • Online music lessons
  • Virtual Paint and Sip



PARTNERSHIPS IN RESPONDING

Community networks are there for just this reason and many groups are working to help. Make sure to convene the groups and share your initiatives so that they can support and add to the resources available. 

  • Work closely with the Chamber of Commerce. Have one stop for business resources (use chamber’s website)
  • Colorado Restaurant Association. Ideas for advocating for restaurants, and supporting them during this time include Rent/loan abatement, waive penalties, delay payments of fines, suspend sales tax on non-essential goods (paper for takeout)
  • Partner with Philanthropists Partner with housing and medical facilities to have small business provide additional servicesPartnerships with Property owners. Hold initial conversations about the possibility of rent abatement so that businesses can survive. Consider the idea that street-level tenants and active businesses keep property value up over time. 


NEXT STEPS

  1. Sign up for the Thursday 9AM call this week - on DCI EVENTS PAGE
  2. Create a list of the resources that exist for businesses and around COVID in your community and share them on the DCI RESOURCE GUIDE SPREADSHEET 
  3. Listen to the March 19 Webinar Recording if you missed it. 
  4. Keep an eye out for our business survey that we will try to reach small businesses around the state to create a list and find out how to help them. 


WANT MORE RESOURCES?


WHAT IS DCI DOING TO HELP DURING THIS CRISIS? 

·        Weekly Commercial District + COVID calls. DCI will convene weekly calls for commercial districts to discuss responses and resources to identify the items we can do right now as the crisis is unfolding. DCI is writing up the conversation and will begin recording the webinars for your convenience.

·        COVID Response Resources. DCI will house a COVID response page on our website that shares resources and links to community resources for easy access. 

·        State-wide Business Survey. DCI is partnering with National Research Center and POLCO to distribute and analyze a state-wide survey of businesses to understand their needs and establish a response network.

·        Regional Council. DCI maintains a Regional Council of representatives around the state who are in place to share and collect information specific to each region. We are going to start hosting calls through this group with our members and other interested communities to ensure that we are planning for and communicating the needs of each region appropriately. 

·        2020 IN THE GAME. DCI will revise our Colorado Challenge Community Summit on April 14th to be a virtual event geared toward developing multi-faceted approaches for our national, state-wide, and local responses to this type of pandemic. We will look at our demographics and sales tax trends, and impacts of Coronavirus, and flesh out an action plan for housing, workforce, and small business support. 


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