(Editor’s Note: the following is Part 2 of a three-part series on economic development in Grimsby)
There has been a lot of hustle and bustle in downtown Grimsby in 2013.
Changes, some subtle, some major, have altered the streetscape.
Those are physical manifestations. Behind the scenes there are more plans in progress to not only maintain Grimsby’s strong core, but enhance and further strengthen it as one of the most solid in Niagara Region.
Tony Quirk, chair of Grimsby Downtown Improvement Area board says residents can watch for more facade improvements to materialize, but there will also be programs to draw more consumers to downtown, possible capital projects, and an enhanced branding initiative to name a few things.
These items will be in motion while the DIA maintains is current busy roster of activities, highlighted by the very successful Farmer’s Market which runs through the summer months.
The interest and support in the facade program was a little surprising but certainly welcome, said Quirk.
“This past year, we saw extraordinary uptake in the part of business owners and landlords on the facade improvement program,” noted Quirk.
Grimsby director of planning Michael Seaman said the program is off to a great success, which bodes well for the future.
“The program helps to strengthen downtown as a whole and individual businesses and enhances the community amenity that is downtown Grimsby,” said Seaman.
“Potential employers looking for locations for their businesses, wherever they may be in a community, typically go downtown to gauge the health of a community. If downtown is vibrant and attractive it generally serves as a sign that Grimsby is a good place to invest in and locate a business.”
With that program taking root, Quirk said the DIA is looking to move on to other projects.
“This coming year we want to start many of the public realm improvements,” said Quirk.
He described some of these priorities as:
• A permanent stage in Coronation Park;
• A banner/gateway arch in downtown Grimsby, and;
• An electric vehicle charging station.
“We are also looking forward to working with our friends in the Grimsby Active Transportation committee to establish bicycle racks in the downtown,” he added.
He noted that DIA would continue its support of major community events such as Happening at the Forty, the Santa Claus Parade and the Summer Solstice Celebration in conjunction with the Grimsby Farmers’ Market.
Branding is something the DIA has worked at for more than a decade, a key feature of which was adopting the “Friendly By Nature” moniker.
With economic development initiative irons in the fire, it is unclear if that slogan’s use will continue at this point.
“Grimsby Economic Development Advisory Committee actually came up with a few years ago. It is actually registered to the town with the idea that any community group could use it,” said Quirk.
“However, the DIA seems to be the only group that has really picked up on it. Obviously we would try to use whatever the “town-wide” brand is, but we would be pushing to retain/expand friendly by nature.”