Leadership Goals for the Coming Year
One of the best parts of the Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting is honoring award recipients. We always enjoy highlighting the doers in the community. Another favorite part of the meeting is the new President’s “Look Forward”.
Emporia Main Street has a “working” board, which is different from an “advisory board”. As the name suggests, a working board works to implement a strategy and work plans consistent with organizational goals. An advisory board advises staff on things they should do to implement organizational goals. When a Board President for Emporia Main Street presents a series of goals for the coming year, those goals are synonymous with expectations for themselves, other volunteers, and staff to accomplish for the coming year. In plain speak, these goals are the expectations of the President. Some of the expectations enunciated at the Annual Meeting by newly elected President Jeremy Johns were:
- New housing will be completed, and more new housing will start the development process as a result of organizational activity.- Emporia Main Street has worked with local investors to create more community housing options that make sense for investors, the community, and prospective residents. We will see some of those housing units come online within the next couple of months, with more housing developments on the way. Upper story housing can make sense for investors because the right projects can make a reasonable profit. If projects aren’t profitable, local taxpayers often have to cover the difference. Projects underway in our core make sense for the community because we use existing infrastructure (streets, water, sewer, etc.) without creating more long term liabilities for the city, we enhance property values by increasing building income, and consumers are placed in close proximity with locally owned businesses to enhance local spending. Prospective residents have more living options in a popular residential type (lofts), and people who are considering selling their home have a potential space to reside. Some new residents can use higher quality lofts to allow additional time to find or build a house, and other current residents can remain local while relocating from complexes that may be dilapidating.
- Emporia Main Street functions will bring more conferences to the community and add some temporary boosts to the local economy through their presence.- There are several drivers of multi-day tourism in the local area. I think we are all aware of large events like the Unbound Gravel or Dynamic Discs Open, but hosting local conferences (if done correctly) can drive local traffic and sales. The Rural Rise conference and upcoming Kansas Main Street training are two examples of using economic development efforts through Main Street to draw in visitors over multiple days. Locating conference sessions downtown can enhance local spending at retailers, restaurants and nightlife venues.
- The Fabrication Lab will accelerate the creation of new local products for existing businesses and prototype development for new business concepts in the area.- New area products have already rolled out of the Fabrication Lab, and this year will allow for expanded production capabilities that will diversify local unique product offerings, drive traffic, and enhance sales. Most small retailers are competing with larger stores with more buying power or online retailers that sacrifice margins in favor of volume. Entrepreneurs can bypass this issue by working to develop some unique product offerings that others don’t have and using those unique items as a focal point to encourage sales of other items. Supply chain issues are partially mitigated by in-house item production. New product development can add jobs and diversification to the marketplace. The volume produced at the Fab Lab should be a good indicator of the overall economic health of the entrepreneur class within the community.
- Emporia Main Street will work with partners to bring new funding types online to support startups and business expansions.- Emporia Main Street has a good working relationship with Network Kansas, the USDA, the Department of Commerce, and other funding entities to focus dollars on business startups and expansions. This year, we will see those efforts lead to new access to funds that aid in regional growth.
- Partnerships with local educational institutions will work to enhance enrollment numbers at local educational institutions.- Lyon County is much younger than surrounding counties from a median age perspective. Our educational institutions make us different from the surrounding region and provide us with night life, arts, workforce, and a variety of amenities that we simply wouldn’t have if not for ESU and FHTC. Without our educational institutions, Emporia would lose a substantial portion of our population and business mix. Each new student moving to the community has approximately a $15,000 impact on our local economy, so it makes sense that a growing student population should be high on the community priority list. By working with regional partners and our educational institutions, we will continue to bridge the gap between town and gown to take an active community role in growing local institutions.
- We will roll out a series of new projects that have a measurable impact on local businesses as we continue to push past the struggles of the past couple of years.- Destination business training, new consumer data, customer service assistance, business tours, social media updated training, enhanced development assistance, and business diversification initiatives are all projects for the coming year. Getting people off the hamster wheel in their business means giving eager entrepreneurs willing to invest energy the means to level up.
The Emporia Main Street Board of Directors will plan a strategic planning retreat in the near future. What goals or objectives would you like to see us tackle over the next twelve months? What resources do you need? What are you missing in your business or organization? How can Emporia Main Street best help you sustain and grow? CLICK HERE to email Emporia Main Street with your thoughts.