With downtown Sussex on the fast track to a complete overhaul, village officials are preparing to market the Main Street corridor to prospective businesses with the new “Downtown Sussex Branding & Marketing Strategy.”
The team of village officials, residents, real estate agents and marketing specialists had their first meeting Thursday to begin brainstorming ideas, and nothing was left off the table. From outdoor festivals to a village tagline, the group is searching for the one thing that will set Sussex apart.
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“We need to give downtown Sussex a sense of place, and we want to know what will make it a place that people want to visit,” said Melissa Weiss, assistant to the village administrator. “A downtown ideally should be a hub of activity, and a Main Street in a community of our size should really be the core of a community.”
Weiss prepared a presentation to get the group thinking, and it covered ideas about revitalization, public art, outdoor events and creating a village slogan like, “Sussex: We Do Small Town Well” to brand the downtown area.
Jeremy Smith, the village administrator, said this is a good time to start thinking about these things considering Main Street is slated for reconstruction and Village Hall will be completely rebuilt in a couple of years. The new downtown marketing team can think of ideas that could potentially be incorporated into construction designs.
“The ultimate goal is to create a space downtown that has a thriving business community — one that is self sustaining,” Smith said. “We’re trying to create that environment that builds upon itself. We’re just talking about laying the groundwork here.”
The focus of Thursday’s brainstorming was people traffic. What will bring residents downtown, creating a walkable and vibrant business district? In addition, how can Sussex work with existing businesses to help them market themselves?
Team members talked about bringing a farmer’s market to downtown Sussex, creating a large water feature at the upcoming “Village Hall campus,” and attracting specialty businesses to Main Street like night spots.
But attracting the businesses isn’t as easy as someone might think. According to Weiss, 70 percent of capital investment deals are based on a “short list” of potential locations. Sussex wants to be on that list.
“Having a vibrant downtown will get us on that short list of places businesses want to locate to,” Weiss said. “We’re trying to create a space, an environment that draws the type of people that make businesses work.”
The group’s next meeting is scheduled for March 14, and members are tasked with bringing new ideas, thinking of possible Sussex slogans and brainstorming further about an event to draw residents downtown.