Archive | July, 2015

Indy is committed to the community conversation

17 Jul

Like many communities, Indianapolis’s urban core is more than one thing to more than one sector of their population. It wears many hats, and is home to many voices. 

Lauren Nguyen, mySideWalk

Indianapolis is in a fight against suburban flight. The city needs to find a way to keep residents from leaving the urban core to take new jobs, make new homes, and start new businesses. A new approach to planning in their city could tie together the community’s vision and values with a long-range strategy.

To help move toward a brighter, more prosperous future, the City of Indianapolis created a bicentennial plan that encompasses issues from city culture, to transit, to bicycling. Creative promotional efforts and comprehensive public outreach through meetings, newsletters and social media have made that plan, known as Plan 2020, a success. Continuing to keep public input at the forefront will be key to its longevity.

“When we started Plan 2020, we committed to rethinking community engagement,” says Brad M. Beaubien, AICP, Planning Administrator for the city of Indianapolis.“

“Traditional public meetings work for a small constituency and are important for that group, but planning is too important to limit engagement to that small group,” he says. “We put together a family of engagement vehicles to try and reach a wide range of stakeholders, and mySidewalk was one of these vehicles that helped us rethink how we engage our community.”

mySidewalk allows Indy a way to engage in a public, two-way conversation that isn’t limited to only those who can attend a meeting downtown. Their mySidewalk page is open 24/7. Working parents, busy students, retirees, and young professionals all keep different hours balancing a variety of priorities. On mySidewalk they all can provide meaningful feedback to help the city move closer to its goal.

“We like that people can engage at their own time and pace, and that we don’t have the problem of a single voice dominating the discussion at the expense of those who may be more passive but equally passionate,” says Beaubien.

The importance of that engagement is front and center when it comes to ensuring the future of their downtown. Like many communities, Indy’s urban core is more than one thing to more than one sector of their population. It wears many hats, and is home to many voices.

“Downtown is one of the few neighborhoods that belongs to everyone,” Beaubian says. “People live there. It’s the economic engine of the Central Indiana. It’s the center of government and justice. It’s the home of the second largest University campus in the state. It’s a transportation hub for all modes. It’s the entertainment, sports, and culture hub,”

Plan 2020 uses mySidewalk to capture the feedback of their residents around the issues that matter most. They can easily collect the sentiment, as well as measurable data around the issues and concerns of both the city and the community.

“It’s important for us to engage all of these stakeholders, and to do so requires a suite of engagement vehicles,” Beaubian says. “mySidewalk allows us to reach many of these diverse stakeholders in an ongoing and meaningful way.”

Downtown Colorado, Inc. is currently partnered with mySidewalk. Members can claim their organization’s page by clicking here for free. 


Silverthorne and Lake Dillon Theatre Company Announce Plan to Construct Theater to Open in 2017

10 Jul

Elena Scott of Norris-Design

Silverthorne, Colorado has envisioned a vibrant downtown that is pedestrian-friendly, compact, includes mixed uses and fosters a variety of businesses. Through the great leadership of the Town Council and staff, this vision is closer than ever to being realized. The Town and the Lake Dillon Theatre Company have embarked on a partnership to create a new performing arts theater in the heart of the Town, and are planning to break ground on the facility in 2016. Plans to create a destination commercial center and cultural heart for Silverthorne have been a focus of the community for many years, and strategies to begin the creation of the core were explored with the Downtown Colorado Inc. Assessment in 2011. DCI is proud to partner with communities like Silverthorne to promote downtown revitalization and assist in realizing the community’s vision.

Link to article on Town of Silverthorne’s website:

Link to 9news story:

Perception Is Everything

6 Jul

How do your customers or visitors perceive a new food or drink experience before it even happens? Knowing the answer to that could be the difference between increased sales, or increased competition. So how do you know?

Eric Wolf, Executive Director, World Food Travel Association

No matter whether you serve customers at your business or visitors to your destination, people decide to buy or visit based on the perceived promise of the proposed food or drink experience. Before someone visits your business or destination, they have a “Pre-Trip/Purchase” perception. This is based on conversations they have with friend and family, what they see in the media and so on. It has probably even happened to you: You did some research on a business or destination and when you arrived or after you purchased it, the reality was very different from the perception, was it not?

The next phase is the “On-Site/Mid-Purchase” perception. This is how your customers or visitors are experiencing your product while they are there. Everything from the staff helping them to the signage and a lot more can affect their impression (good or bad) of the product or destination you promoted.

Finally, once we return home, we have a “Post-Trip/Purchase” perception. This typically occurs when photos are shown or stories are told with trusted friends, family members and colleagues. We take the feedback from those we trust, and their perceptions can then affect our overall, final perception and the stories we tell well into the future. For example, if you loved a city and then showed pictures of it to your friends when you got home and they were not terribly impressed, you might actually change your opinion about the city, even if you originally liked it.

Here’s another way to look at it. Has this ever happened to you? A friend of yours raves about a new restaurant that opened down the street. She was adamant that you have to go because she had such a wonderful experience. Then you go and you just don’t have the same experience as your friend. It’s the same with wineries/breweries, food/drink factories, hotels, food tours, food events and so on. Remember, these are experiences to foodies – for us it’s not just about a meal, it’s about the memory. Everyone has a different idea about what to expect. Those expectations are confirmed, exceeded or shattered during the experience. And finally, when the visitor/customer returns home, their perception can change again. It’s OK if you’re confused – there are a lot of moving parts.

The reason for a mismatch of opinion like the one above is due to the phenomenon of PsychoCulinary Profiling, which was uncovered in research performed by the World Food Travel Association in 2010-2011. The Association discovered that there are 13 major kinds of behavioral profiles that a foodie could exhibit. So in the example above, perhaps your friend had a “gourmet” PsychoCulinary profile and yours was “authentic”. You both had very different perceptions of the experience, not just before it happened, but during and after it happened as well. Not all foodies are the same.

The benefit of knowing in advance how your visitors perceive your business destination is that you can more finely tune your messaging and positioning to exactly the right audience. Skilled marketers know that highly targeted messaging is the most effective. Why send “gourmet” messaging if your business or destination really isn’t “gourmet”? Nothing to be ashamed of, but you can’t promote something you’re really not. The wrong messaging can turn foodies against you with the negative word-of-mouth machine, something you definitely don’t want. Lead with your strengths, and the right foodies will find your business or destination if it is promoted accurately. Then you’ll have raving fans and hopefully, exponential growth and profit will ensue.

The World Food Travel Association provides food and drink experience assessments and PsychoCulinary profiling for businesses and destinations. Please get in touch to learn more.

States Recognizing the Value of New Americans

1 Jul

Legal immigrants are some of the nation’s biggest job creators, which is why more cities are viewing them as a key to economic revival.


In their 2009 book Immigrant, Inc., Richard Herman and Robert Smith include this quote from a 1953 report by the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization: “The richest regions are those with the highest proportion of recent immigrants. … Their industry, their skills and their enterprise were major factors in the economic development that has made these regions prosperous.”

If anything, that proposition is even truer now. The immigration reforms of 1965 significantly increased the possibilities for non-Europeans to enter the United States. The result has been a surge of talented, well educated immigrants from places like China and India. By the 2000 Census, immigrants accounted for nearly half of all of this country’s scientists and engineers with doctoral degrees.

Contrary to the idea that immigrants take jobs that would otherwise go to native-born Americans, legal immigrants are job creators. They constituted nearly all of the growth in so-called “main street” businesses in 31 of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas from 2000 to 2013, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent research organization in New York. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s website notes that in his state immigrants created high-tech businesses at a rate six times that of the rest of the state’s population. It’s not hard to see why Snyder created the Michigan Office for New Americans last year.

Michigan is just one example of a growing number of state and local governments forging a new economic development strategy that the authors of Immigrant, Inc. labeled as “immigrant driven revival.” In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has brought immigrants into City Hall to take the oath of citizenship. In his view, these new citizens are a vital part of his plans to replenish declining neighborhoods. In Boston, the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians focuses on welcoming immigrants, especially international students, as part of its strategy for keeping and building the region’s strong position in the high-tech economy.

These state and local leaders see that while immigration reform is clearly needed at the federal level, there is no point in waiting for it to happen. They’ve got immediate problems, and immigrants are part of the solution. Indeed, one of the places where innovation is happening is in finding ways to game the system to get around the feds.

Meanwhile, groups like Welcoming America are providing a platform for state and local governments to share information and best practices, and in November President Obama established a task force charged with identifying and disseminating best practices at the local level for integrating immigrants into American communities.

Steve Tobocman of the nonprofit Global Detroit calls increased immigration “the single great urban revitalization strategy in modern day America.” And, he notes, “it’s one that doesn’t cost tax dollars.” Little wonder that in immigration, as in so many areas of public policy, real change is being forced beyond the halls of Congress.

Mark Funkhouser is the publisher of Governing magazine. He served as mayor of Kansas City from 2007 to 2011. Prior to being elected mayor, Funkhouser was the city’s auditor for 18 years and was honored in 2003 as a Governing Public Official of the Year. Before becoming publisher of Governing, he served as director of the Governing Institute