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Sussex Creating Campaign to Bring Businesses Downtown

The new marketing team is talking about an outdoor event, public art and more.

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.

  • What do you think Sussex should do to market the downtown area? Tell us in the Comments.

“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.

Tim Selerski February 21, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I agree with Pete. Furthermore, as a resident who happens to live on Main Street, I can't help but wonder how the targeted properties will be acquired.
Andy Ambrosius February 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I kind of wondered about that, too. There are quite a few properties on Main. If this is going to become the flourishing businesses district they hope it'll be, how will those homes be affected? Let me put that question on my to-do list.
Andy Ambrosius February 21, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Tim, I just called the village administrator to ask him about this. He said this isn't that type of project, and all the houses on Main will remain houses.
Mike B February 24, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I don't think Main Street will ever be like a Cedarburg Downtown. Unless all of main street was completely gutted and redesigned from scratch, you can just change a few things and expect everything to be different. I think a better idea would be to take the triangle part between VV, Main, and 74 and turn that into some sort of "Center". That space is huge and could be turned into something massive and great. Could even turn the quarry type thing into the official Sussex Swimming Hole. (Assuming that's what it since since I've never been back in there): http://g.co/maps/wsgqj Just look at an overhead view of Main St and you'll see that is so crammed full of existing old houses and old buildings and such, there's no way to just "transform" it into something else...
Andy Ambrosius February 24, 2012 at 08:22 PM
That idea for that awkward triangle is actually pretty genius. It could make for a cool stopping/starting point for people on the bugline, too.

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