Salem’s Downtown Partnership, an organization of downtown businesses, has established a pool of money to support ideas by members that promote downtown events, projects and community atmosphere. Called the Good Idea Fund, the sole goal is to help energize Salem’s downtown district. It’s seed money for any concept that might have a positive impact on the downtown area.
Eric Kittleson, President of the Board of the Partnership, said, “The Good Idea Fund is a way to get downtown stakeholders involved in promotions and exciting events. The Partnership wants to get businesses energized, and one of our most important missions is to listen to everyone’s input, to be inclusive.”
The Downtown Partnership stresses collaboration in general, and includes this priority in projects it supports with the Good Idea Fund. “Ideas should benefit the downtown community rather than just one store,” Kittleson stressed, “even if it’s only one street.”
One idea partly funded in this way was May’s “Cinco de Micro Brewfest” held at the Conference Center which promoted local breweries and eateries and featured a Battle of the Bartenders and live music. Another was “Buy Downtown”, a creative way to let customers “put a face” on downtown businesspeople with flyers including photos and stories of how individuals who work downtown are involved in the community as a whole. A third is “The Grass is Always Greener”, an idea designed to enliven First Wednesdays this summer with green tables, chairs – and even grass.
Kittleson hopes that when businesspeople cooperate with fun and creative projects like these, they will build a kindred feeling between themselves as well as with their customers. “So many ideas just need a little encouragement and financial support,” he says.
Not all ideas are fully paid for by the fund (the maximum given is $5000), and the focus is on one-time events rather than ongoing ones. Eligibility requirements also include being a downtown business paying downtown taxes.
Note: the sidewalk power washing project mentioned in our June 28 story was not paid for by the Good Idea Fund but rather by the Downtown Parking District Fund, often known as the “parking tax” assessed on 500 downtown businesses and administered by the City of Salem.
The Good Idea Fund began as a pilot program, but has been continued into the next Partnership year because of the Partnership’s ongoing belief that all funding will come back in increased business and community spirit. Good Idea Fund information can be found on the Downtown Partnership’s Web site. salemdowntownpartnership.com