BY KATIE MATTESON
As you may be aware, Downtown Racine Corp. was accepted into the Wisconsin Main Street program in July. This means that our downtown is now one of 34 commercial districts in the state supported by the resources of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Since the DRC received the Wisconsin Main Street designation, there’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes activity.
DRC Executive Director Kelly Kruse has participated in training sessions with other Main Street directors and been in almost daily contact with WEDC staff.
Most recently, members of the Main Street resource team were in Racine Oct. 9-11, gathering information through meetings, interviews, tours, existing publications and a community engagement session in order to make recommendations following the Main Street Four-Point ApproachTM for downtown revitalization:
- Design of the built environment, signage, streetscape, public spaces and other visual aspects of downtown;
- Economic Vitality or the process of helping to strengthen and expand the downtown’s economic base;
- Organization of broad-based local support and leadership, membership and fundraising; and;
- Promotion to market downtown as a center of commercial and social engagement.
I’d encourage you to watch the WEDC Main Street: Findings & Recommendations Presentation from Thursday, Oct. 11 on the Downtown Racine Corporation’s Facebook page, facebook.com/racinedowntown/. The team’s final written report is expected in mid-November.
Following the visit, Kelly told me she got great feedback from Errin Welty, WEDC’s Downtown Development Manager, who said: “After getting to know Downtown Racine over the past several months since they have become a Wisconsin Main Street community, it is clear that the community is poised for growth – not only is there private investment in downtown, but businesses are thriving and local residents are engaged in helping to foster downtown improvements that will make Racine more inviting and active year-round. We look forward to working with the DRC and local partners to help implement the community’s vision in the coming months and years.”
In addition, as part of a strategic planning process to help shape downtown activities and projects in the coming year, DRC is working with WEDC to conduct a community survey. Your thoughts are needed to help identify projects, activities and priorities which will help keep downtown Racine active and vital as the center of our growing community. Please share your thoughts by participating in the brief online survey (http://survey.clicktools.com/app/survey/response.jsp, and you will be entered for a chance to win a $50 Downtown Racine Gift Certificate.
I find this stuff fascinating and I’ve been immersing myself in resource materials since I joined the DRC board in January and volunteered to chair the Main Street Committee in August.
My latest book, a recommendation from Darrin Wasniewski, WEDC’s Downtown Development Program Manager, is “This Is Where You Belong” by Melody Warnick.
From the book jacket: “How we come to feel at home in our towns and cities is what Warnick sets out to discover in ‘This Is Where You Belong.’” She dives into the body of research around place attachment – the deep sense of connection that binds some of us to our cities and increases our physical and emotional well-being – then travels to towns across America to see it in action. Inspired by a growing movement of placemaking, she examines what its practitioners are doing to create likable locales. She also speaks with frequent movers and loyal stayers around the country to learn what draws highly mobile Americans to a new city, and what makes them stay.”
Near the end of the book, she presents these Love Where You Live Principles:
- Our towns are what we think they are.
- Emotion follows behavior; feelings follow action.
- If you want to love your town, act like someone who loves your town would act.
- When you’re happy (and healthy), then you’re happy (and healthy) where you live.
- If you love your city, you should do what’s good for it. (Corollary: What’s good for your community is usually good for you.)
- Relationships with people are what make you feel most at home.
- Every town is good at something. Do what your town is good at.
- Put pins in the map. Happy memories create place attachment.
- When you invest, you feel invested.
- There is no right town for everyone, just the right town for you right now.
- Experience joy for as long as you’re there.
I’d like to offer another one:
12. The more you learn about your town, the more you love it.
That’s pretty much the essence of what we do here at Belle City Magazine and yes, we love this place.