2013 was a year full of events and accomplishments in historic downtown Gadsden.
In March 2013 DGI welcomed Mary Wood as its new Manager of Marketing and Development. A native of Kentucky and a former retail manager, Wood has been a great asset to the downtown merchants.
For the second year, Sunset Sips was a huge success. Proceeds from ticket sales were earmarked for the purchase of speakers for downtown to provide everyday strolling music and holiday music. Downtown Gadsden, Inc. (DGI) sponsored events such as First Friday, Third Thursday and Musical Mondays along with the Chili Cook-Off.
DGI also co-sponsored several events such as the Howl-O-Weenie Paw-ty, Snacks with Santa and Downtown Christmas Open House. Crowds at these events exceeded all expectations.
These events made downtown Gadsden a common gathering place in 2013 for people of all ages to meet, eat, shop and play local.
Renovations have continued at the Pitman Theatre. The “Party with a Purpose at the Pitman” was a fundraising event held this year to raise funds for renovations to the theatre. The city and Mayor Guyton agreed to match the funds raised to bring it to a total of $12,600. With the money raised, sound curtains were purchased and hung in the theatre, the marquis was restored and the funds left will go towards restoring the bathrooms in the mezzanine.
2013 welcomed 17 new businesses in Downtown Gadsden while eight businesses either relocated to other areas or closed. This resulted in a net gain of nine new businesses in the downtown area. Occupancy continues to remain in excess of 90 percent of available properties.
This year Mainstreet Alabama was restarted and DGI has committed to support the program.
The new Mainstreet Alabama President chose Gadsden as the venue for a statewide seminar featuring Jon Schallert, a consultant to business owners.
The seminar was held at the Pitman Theatre and focused on changing our community and making downtown a “destination.”
DGI has continued its focus on educating people as to the benefits of shopping local during 2013. The banners encouraging people to “Shop, Sip, Eat, Play and Learn” were hung in January. Speakers were purchased with funds raised from the Sunset Sips event and will be placed on Broad Street in January 2014. DGI also purchased patriotic banners for downtown to be used seasonally.
DGI’s Façade and Sign grants continue to make it possible for new and existing businesses to improve the look of their buildings and to identify their businesses with signage. During 2013, a total of $12,732 was given to 8 businesses as reimbursement for work performed based on a reported $41,270 that was spent by the merchants on new signage and façade improvements.
A working partnership with the City of Gadsden, Greater Gadsden Area Tourism, The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, The Walnut Gallery, the Gadsden Museum of Art and Etowah County along with others will allow DGI to continue to strengthen downtown businesses and make Downtown Gadsden THE place to be in 2014!
– Kay Moore, Executive Director, DGI