Projecting Messages

Posted by on May 16, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

The Internet is forever.  For those of us that grew up in the pre-commercial internet/social media age, communication was temporary.  A face to face conversation or phone call evaporated from memories over time.  Video tape degraded.  The written word could be lost to time.  In the digital age, the public communication tone, tenor, and content is saved in perpetuity.  Even when things are “deleted”, screen shots of posts or a video captured can save a conversation.  In the world of business, nonprofit leadership, or governance, the things you post can come back to haunt you.  From a community perspective, the tone of regional messaging can either lift an initiative up, or tear it down.  The Emporia region is not immune to the negative or positive impacts of digital messaging.  So, let’s dive into a few of the issues. Public versus Private- Should some messaging through digital mechanisms be considered private? Probably.  If you are limiting a group online to share information through a private chat, a select group text (or individual text), or you have set a membership forum that restricts access, there probably should be a limited expectation that the messaging stay within the bounds of the individuals associated with those messaging limitations.  But, in the real world, digital messaging doesn’t always work that way.  People can (and will) save texts, messages from Facebook “groups”, or other digital forums that they may forward to other people or use at a later date; keep that in mind when you choose to communicate with others. When in (the digital) Public- If you post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or any other social media platform, you should expect your post to be public.  These are all public forums that are built for the express purpose of sharing information publicly.  Retroactively deleting information posted doesn’t always prevent data from remaining in the public consciousness because most computers have a “print screen” function, and almost all mobile devices have a screen capture function (essentially taking a picture of the screen).  Once you post on social media- it’s out there. The blending of public and private personas means that information shared personally can impact businesses/organizations/elected officials.  If an employee posts something idiotic on social media and your customers see it, they can hold a business accountable.  If you post something ill advised on social media as a private person, people can still hold your organization/business accountable. Does this mean that everyone is automatons? Political correctness is often in the eye of the beholder.  There are certain things that will offend small portions of the public that may not be offensive to the average citizen (or your target market).  It’s important to remain genuine or...

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Earth Day

Posted by on Apr 26, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Earth Day was Monday of this week, and each year people find ways to gather in parks as they plant trees and talk about recycling to emphasize our commitment to the only habitable planet we know of.  It’s important to take care of our home.  Leaving things better than you found them should be a basic tenet of any sustainable society (and I don’t think we want to be part of an unsustainable society).  However, when we talk about environmentalism in the United States, too much of the discussion revolves around “stuff” (technology, reuse, etc.), and too little thought is given to behaviors. Every person on the planet makes daily choices, and those choices have environmental impacts.  While we may have peer pressure to buy certain “green” products, or recycle the products we have already purchased, there is considerably less peer pressure to adopt environmentally friendly behaviors.  Adoption of behaviors that mitigate or reduce environmental impacts really starts with taking a look at how you consume energy in repetitious patterns, and finding ways to reduce that consumption.  When we look at where people utilize energy, our travel and building patterns hit towards the top of the list, and our behaviors are influenced by community design. 1. How far do you live from work?- The actions we take repeatedly have a tendency to add up.  If you travel a significant distance every day for work by vehicle, the cumulative yearly total of your energy usage can be quite substantial.  In rural areas, some people commute to work while a spouse stays on the farm/ranch, and that is completely understandable.  Shared transportation, like carpooling, can minimize energy consumption.  The most “Earth friendly” travel is a dense community pattern that allows for a short distance between your home and work. 2. How do you get to the places you play?- Similar to the “work” question, if you are driving all over the country for entertainment/shopping options, you can have a significant energy consumption and negative environmental impact.  The vast majority of millennial households are choosing housing options that are either integrated with, or adjacent to, work and play options within their community.  Not only do they reduce their carbon footprint, but they also save money on transportation related expenditures. 3. When you buy, is it quality or quality?- Higher quality merchandise lasts longer.  The “cheaper”  alternatives often end up in landfills.  Consider where your items are made.  Remember that items made in the US don’t require shipping from a far off land. 4. When you access institutions, do you have various transportation options?- When people don’t consider bike or pedestrian options to allow for convenient travel to buildings, you often end up with a line of...

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You Can’t Catch if You Don’t Cast

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Over the next few weeks, downtown Emporia will fill with several thousand visitors from all over the world.  These people will shop, eat, and partake in entertainment options that will result in a significant boost for our local economy.  For businesses that work at converting visitors to spenders, the next few weeks could be a tremendous growth opportunity.  For those that simply expect thousands of people to walk through their door and spend without putting forth any effort, the next few weeks could be a frustrating disappointment.  If you want to be a business that generates sales from local visitors over the next few weeks, consider some of the tips below: 1. Welcome people.  This sounds simple, but a lot of people mess this step up.  You should definitely create window displays (Check out our contest) and generate welcome signs (our Welcome Wagon chalking event is always a hit), but a sign isn’t the same thing as a “welcome”.  The Midwest is known for hospitable citizens, but we can sometimes seem standoffish to outsiders.  If you want visitors to feel welcome, you have to put your best extrovert foot forward and enthusiastically welcome people to your business and to your community. 2. Make sure your business type is obvious.  It’s hard to tell what some businesses do from their name or signage.  If people are new to an area and have limited time, they probably aren’t going to waste their effort on businesses if they aren’t clear what a business sells.  Take a look at your store front, and find ways to make your products/services obvious to potential shoppers.  If you need help, contact Emporia Main Street. 3. Great experiences create great ‘word of mouth”.  People far from home love to talk about the businesses they “discovered” that provided unique experiences.  Find a special prop that highlights your business that people can use to take a “selfie” and post to social media.  Create something interactive that gets new customers involved.  Highlight unique items or services that generate the “we are the only place you can find this” buzz.  Provide fun education about your special items that make customers want to share information. 4. Don’t forget the locals.  People from Denmark have no idea what local businesses are popular and which ones aren’t.  People visiting are attracted to places with people.  Run specials or events that encourage locals to patronize your business during activities.  The locals will get a kick our of the increased traffic, and the visitors will think your business is “the place to be”. 5. Meet visitors where they are.  You can’t stay locked up inside your four store walls and expect to form relationships with visitors.  Get out and...

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Entrepreneurs to Tenants

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Millenial and Gen Z entrepreneurs grew up in a “rental” economy.  Some of the reasons younger generations largely avoid ownership are economic, but some relate to long term risk aversion.  Simply put, younger entrepreneurs often want to try out a concept before making a long term commitment.  That process sounds pragmatic, but the concept of short term trials is often opposed by years of property dogma.  Property owners want the security of long term leases, and short term stints can leave a negative mark on a property if a concept is deemed a “failure”.  So, where is the middle ground?   The concept of concentrated “pop up shops” can allow for more entrepreneurs to test entrepreneurial concepts, and eventually convert to long term property tenants.  Pop up shops are temporary placements within a commercial building for the purposes of market research and sales.  Pop up shops can last different time frames, depending on the focus of the property owner and the goals of the individual entrepreneur.  For the purposes of this article, we will explore different types of pop ups, how to identify them, and the likelihood of landing a long term tenant. 1. The event based pop up-  Over the next couple of months, Emporia will have thousands of people visit our community from far off lands.  These people may want local souvenirs, art work, additional food options, or event specific retail.  Smart landlords with vacancies in proximity to local events and activities can actively recruit tenants for event season, or a singular event.  The upside for this pop up strategy is that the types of businesses you should recruit are fairly evident and you may be able to generate a premium price (depending on your location).  The downside is that this strategy may have a lower probability of landing a long term tenant because of the limited scope of the pop up shops interest (only during events). 2. The holiday pop up-  Christmas stores are fairly common, but stores that focus on Halloween, Valentines Day, and other holiday events (we could see a pop up that focused on Day of the Dead, for example) can generate traffic and internal sales.  Contracts should clearly state entrance and exit strategies for holiday types of pop ups, because you may want to rotate different holiday themed businesses in the same space.  Similar to event base pop ups, there is a singular holiday focus, but some holidays may produce ancillary markets that last all year (Day of the Dead vendors may convert to an import business, for example). 3. The shared risk pop up-  Pop ups can share risk in two distinct ways.  The landlord can take a percentage of sales...

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The Land of O.Z.

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Helping people invest in their community is one of the most important jobs in economic development.  We know that if people inside a community won’t invest, people outside of a community certainly won’t.  We also understand that catalyst tools are necessary to help decrease risk and improve property values.  Over the past decade, Emporia Main Street has assisted with over $60,000,000 worth of reinvestment in the downtown area, and there is a new tool available that may help people looking to invest in our community.  This article will focus on Opportunity Zones at a high level.  There are still some aspects of this program that are “up in the air”, but we want to provide information for individuals that may want to utilize this tool to invest in Emporia.  We will embed several educational links throughout this article so people can do some additional research on their own.   Opportunity Zones allow people to defer or offset capital gains taxes realized by participating in business and/or building operations within designated zones for a set number of years.  Capital gains taxes are typically realized after the sale of assets, like stocks.  Let’s use an example to illustrate an Opportunity Zone transaction: Bill sells his stock in XYZ Company, and realizes a $100,000 gain on the stock sale.  Typically, this $100,000 would be subject to capital gains tax.  However, let’s say that Bill buys interest in a qualified opportunity fund on April 2, 2019 for $100,000.  Bill wouldn’t show a recognized “gain” on the stock sale in 2019.  If Bill owns interest in the qualified opportunity fund on December 31, 2019, he would pay tax on 85% of the “original” gain (he would pay tax on $85,000 gain in 2026 because $100,000 multiplied by 85% is $85,000).  Let’s say that Bill holds the property for ten years, and that the property Bill purchased through his interest in a qualified opportunity fund appreciates to $200,000 during that time frame.  Bill could sell the property that he held for 10 years, and pay no tax on the economic gain for the property, if he meets the ten year holding period.  If Bill invests an additional $50,000 in the property (not from capital gains) to “fix up” the structure, the additional $50,000 won’t qualify for the ten year exclusion, and one-third of the $50,000 injection will be taxable upon the sale of the property. Where is the Emporia opportunity zone?  Please see the map below.  The opportunity zone in Emporia is basically south of 6th Avenue and east of Rural Street through most parts of the city limits.  CLICK HERE to check out Kansas opportunity zones. Confused yet?  Let’s get into a few nuts and bolts,...

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A Window To Your Store

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

  With spring promising to be right around the corner (we hope), now is a great time to re-energize your store front with a new window display. The changing of the season, a local event, or a holiday gives you a platform for what theme to tie into your products or services.  More often than not, shoppers enter a store based on the product being shown or the message being communicated in the store window.  Your window displays are like billboards for your store. They can be the make-or-break factor in whether a customer enters your shop or walks on by. Investing a little time and money into developing dynamic window displays can really pay off.   Plan Your Purpose What message do you want to convey? Are you having a sale? Do you want to promote a new product or product line? Are you a service based business that wants to highlight what customers can find once they open the door? Make sure that your front window or door has an open/closed sign and your hours listed. Make Sure Signage is Easily Visible The sign that looks great when you’re standing right next to it might be hard to see from a moving vehicle or if a potential customer is across the street. While all details can not be done to suit all viewing points, try a mixture of items that can be seen from a distance or up close. Go outside and stand in a few different spots to see what your display looks like. Getting a different view of your work can help you see what your customer is seeing. Think Three Dimensional  A window display that uses three dimensional items can be very appealing to the eye. Shift mannequins or signs to an angle to catch more eyes as shopper pass by your store front. Use tiers, pedestals, and makeshift risers to elevate and draw focus to your featured products. Decide Whether You Want a Background Or do you want your store to be visible? Each approach has its pros and cons. Putting a background behind the your window allows for the display to stand out better, but does not allow for window shoppers to get a look inside to your sales floor. Paper backgrounds can be a cost effective way to highlight products, and when sized properly, allow customers to see inside your store. Mix in Some Props If you are wanting to connect with a local event, adding elements of the event can be a great way to feature your products.  Even if you do not sell event specific products – your business can still relate indirectly to this customer base.  Visitors are often drawn...

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