Down­town MJ As­soc. moves into sec­ond phase of plan­ning to im­prove down­town ex­pe­ri­ence

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Sasha-Gay Lob­ban

The Down­town Moose Jaw As­so­ci­a­tion says the pub­lic will be see­ing sev­eral de­vel­op­ments down­town as they move into their sec­ond phase of plan­ning that will en­hance Moose Jaw’s down­town ex­pe­ri­ence for lo­cals, busi­nesses and visi­tors.

The As­so­ci­a­tion met on Mon­day, Au­gust 27 at the Moose Jaw Pub­lic Li­brary to dis­cuss ideas that will im­prove down­town and stim­u­late more busi­ness and pub­lic en­gage­ment.

Vicki Wat­son, busi­ness owner and chair of the Down­town As­so­ci­a­tion, says the goal of the meet­ing is to pro­vide a brief and for­mal up­date of what they have been work­ing on to date.

She says some of the progress so far in­cludes up­dat­ing a cur­rent com­mu­ni­ca­tion list for down­town busi­nesses. “At this meet­ing, we’re ba­si­cally try­ing to for­mu­late our next 30-60-90-day ac­tion plan where we’re try­ing to come up with ac­tional items that are cru­cial to the suc­cess of our down­town. This is our sec­ond phase of plan­ning.” Wat­son said one of the im­me­di­ate ac­tions that the As­so­ci­a­tion is work­ing on is light­ing for the down­town area that will make it more at­trac­tive. “We have been work­ing on try­ing to fi­nal­ize a light­ing strat­egy for our down­town. We would like to have soft white lights that are able to be used year-round at an af­ford­able price.”

The As­so­ci­a­tion has also been work­ing with the Saskatchewan Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (SEDA) as a pi­lot project, es­tab­lish­ing an as­so­ci­a­tion of ded­i­cated down­town Moose Jaw busi­ness peo­ple over the last sev­eral months. The group says their strat­egy is to im­prove down­town and keep it vi­able for years to come and to bring busi­nesses together to suc­ceed. “We have also been work­ing on some mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives and the in­cor­po­ra­tion of our group. We’ve been work­ing with Saskatchewan Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (SEDA) to spear­head our group into a more for­mal group. We do not have fund­ing at this time, but we are work­ing on get­ting in­ter­ested par­tic­i­pants in work­ing to en­hance our down­town,” she ex­plained.

The As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently fa­cil­i­tated a com­mu­nity en­gage­ment sur­vey (https://www.sur­vey­mon­key.com/r/Down­townMJEn­gage­ment) and is work­ing on con­tin­ued col­lec­tive mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives with a mar­ket­ing sub-com­mit­tee. The As­so­ci­a­tion will be re­port­ing on progress re­gard­ing th­ese down­town ini­tia­tives and strate­gies mov­ing for­ward. “So, her­itage and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion are the fo­cus, as well as mar­ket­ing col­lec­tively and en­gag­ing tourists in our down­town ex­pe­ri­ence. We re­ally want to fo­cus on what our down­town looks like and should look like, as we go about en­hanc­ing its beauty and its ex­pe­ri­ence.” Wat­son added that the over­all goal is to keep down­town ac­tive all year so that it will keep at­tract­ing lo­cals and visi­tors. “We’d like to also at­tract more busi­nesses that will serve down­town and stay vi­able. We’ve been work­ing on iden­ti­fy­ing va­cancy rates and un­der­stand­ing what the pub­lic wants to see in down­town.”

“We also want to have more pub­lic events down­town, as well as en­hanc­ing the ones we al­ready have, and an ex­ten­sion of events for our shoul­der sea­son—Fe­bru­ary and March, as well as April,” she said. “Moose Jaw has a re­ally unique ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer and we want to build on that and we hope to see more busi­ness en­gage­ment.” She said the As­so­ci­a­tion is look­ing for­ward to putting plans into ac­tions as they move to im­prove Moose Jaw’s down­town. “I’m ex­cited that many per­sons turned out at this meet­ing and I’m look­ing for­ward to build­ing on the great ideas and mov­ing for­ward. Peo­ple will see more in the next 90 days and they will see sta­ple events get­ting big­ger. It is an in­te­grated ap­proach where busi­nesses are work­ing together with the City, and other groups, to en­sure we all achieve the same goal.”

Vicki Wat­son ad­dresses the Down­town As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing.

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