The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s seems true for downtown Salem, too. Here’s a chance to create a better outcome.
This 1974 editorial captures the challenge facing building community in downtown today. Forty years later, we find ourselves without a unified voice for attracting visitors downtown. Over the past decade, four separate groups have attempted to represent downtown interests; Salem Downtown Association (see article), Go Downtown Salem, Salem Downtown Partnership and the City of Salem. Each suffered the same fate: loss of funding by the check-writers.
Meanwhile, promotion of downtown withers and market failures increase.
Salem Downtown, a project by Salem Creative Network, has addressed lack of downtown programming since 2009, starting with Creative Pub Crawl, a monthly event exposing visitors to nightlife downtown. These efforts have grown to include Pop Up art gallery, UpSalem Social Innovation Center, Mid-Valley Makers, Cherry City Music Festival, Mix-n-Mash and First Wednesday Pop Up in the Alleys.
Now, we’ve taken on our biggest challenge – applying five years of social innovation research directly to the market. Salem Downtown Organization (SDO), a mutually beneficial 501(c)(6) business trade organization, focuses on improving community through promotion and event production in the Central Business District and surrounding areas. SDO aims to represent businesses, organizations and individuals interested in building community downtown.
The first meeting is Thursday, November 13, 2:30 p.m. at 260 Liberty St NE. Agenda items include event planning, mobile app development and shared calendars. The group seeks fresh blood and ideas for attracting visitors and improving the economy.
Are you up for the challenge? Let’s get innovative!