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Creative Collaborations Support Vibrant Downtowns

February 5, 2021

By Sheri Stuart, State Coordinator, Oregon Main Street

A healthy and vibrant historic downtown or neighborhood district doesn’t just happen. It takes the dedicated efforts of a broad spectrum of partners who value the central role these district’s play as the heartbeat of the community: a place to shop, eat, work, live, invest, and play. Collaborations take many forms – from one-time partnering on a specific project or activity to deeper partnerships forged over time. Here’s some ways local programs collaborate with other community entities:

  • The City of Woodburn collaborated with Republic Services to address the unsightly condition of the very visible downtown alleys – a primary concern of downtown business and property owners. The collaboration included painting over graffiti; installing motion-sensor lighting, security cameras, and dumpster enclosures; and adding color accents.  Republic Services was at the table from the start and provided support including cleaning up debris, replacing damaged and vandalized containers, installing the enclosures, and providing soil for planters. Thanks to the partnership, the City has achieved their goal of providing safe, clean, and pedestrian-friendly alleys.
  • Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department, and Astoria Parks and Recreation Foundation have been solid partners on many different activities for over eight years. Collaborations include use of the city watering truck to maintain downtown planters; providing tools, staff, and expertise for the “Love Your Streets” downtown clean-up; support for ADHDA’s main fundraiser, the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup, by allowing use of hose bibs and tables and chairs which saves a significant amount of money; and supporting Movies in the Park sponsored by ADHDA with all proceeds going to the Foundation to underwrite fitness activity fees for residents who can’t afford them.
  • The Klamath Falls Downtown Association and the City of Klamath Falls both have a vested interest in a flourishing, vibrant downtown and have demonstrated an ability to leverage limited resources into meaningful, impactful outcomes. The City contracts a number of downtown activities to KFDA, including management of banners and flowers, programming and scheduling for downtown parks, and marketing and promotion. Beyond that, KFDA staff and key City staff meet every two weeks to discuss ongoing projects and new ideas and to escalate issues of mutual concern; they regularly share content via email and social media to ensure that appropriate information is received by as many interested consumers as possible; partner to administer surveys and disseminate information related to regulatory issues in downtown; and include two city staff members, one City Councilor and the Chief of Police, as ex-officio members on the board. Rather than creating obstacles, the City is regularly a catalyst for ideas that support preservation-based revitalization under the Main Street framework. Learn more more about their partnership here in their video for 2020 Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Award.

All forms of collaborations are important to build understanding and awareness of each partner’s goals, use scarce resources wisely, and create a network for future collaborations.

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