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Columbus News

Posted on: June 29, 2023

Downtown BID Board prioritizing efficiency

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The Downtown Business Improvement District Board is looking to gather ideas for renaming the district.

The BID Board has released a free online survey to gather ideas for potentially renaming the downtown as part of its initial marketing efforts to help make it more appealing and a distinct personality. Options that have been floated around include "Main Street," "Brick Stone," "River," and "Buffalo” followed by words such as "District," "Village," or "Square."

But those are just examples, Board President Josh Johnson stressed. The idea is to get feedback from the public before the Board’s next meeting at noon on Monday, July 10th, in the new Columbus Community Building.

“We definitely want to get as much input as possible and help make downtown a destination,” Johnson said, noting other communities across the country that have branded their downtowns with specific names. You can take the survey here.

The board talked at length about branding and marketing during its June 21st public meeting at City Hall. Present were Johnson, Board Vice President Kevin Johnson, as well as members Lindsay Thomson, Mary Nyffeler and Robert Stachura. Also on hand were City Administrator Tara Vasicek, City Planning & Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen, and City Community Coordinator Elley Coffin. City Public Communications Manager Matt Lindberg was present over the phone.

Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Sandie Fischer and Chamber Marketing & Communications Director Ginger Willard, as well as Chamber Intern Jada Grape, were also present.

How to brand and market the downtown district has been a longstanding discussion point that board members have agreed is important for quite some time. Chamber officials on June 21st brought up branding Columbus overall and information regarding the First Impressions Research Findings conducted in 2022, with there being some possible interest in exploring visiting with the person who put together that report in the future.

The Columbus City Council on June 5th voted in favor of an ordinance that formally created the Downtown Business Improvement District. The assessment that was approved by the City Council is based on a $200 per $100,000 valuation per county records, with a $750 cap per property per year. It would net $45,827.26 in year one, but the City of Columbus would also match that amount, to give the board a first-year budget of approximately $91,654.52.

The board will not have the ability to spend any funds until the City’s new fiscal year kicks in on Oct. 1, 2023, but it isn’t stopping members from making good use of their time between now and then. The board intends to keep having monthly meetings that are open to the public but is putting a specific structure in place to make those meetings as efficient as possible.

First, board members are asked to call, text, or email the group if they are unable to attend so that the meetings can start on time.

The idea is for all proposed agenda items to be turned in four days before a planned meeting and approved by the board president or vice president. Agenda items will be limited at each meeting to keep the board on pace and to limit distractions.

The board continues to encourage public input, with Johnson noting they’ll allow up to 15 minutes each meeting for guests to speak and offer input. Those who have specific items are asked to let either Johnson know so they could be potentially added as an agenda item.

Ultimately, the Board is aiming to limit the meetings to one hour to be mindful of everyone’s time. Meeting notices will continue to be published in local media, on the City of Columbus’ website and on social media channels.

“We want to maximize everyone’s time and to have the meetings run as efficiently as we can,” Johnson said.

Board members Dick Tooley, Barbara Duffy, Cory Reeder and Kristin Stock were absent from the June 21st meeting.

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