The Marketing of Carlisle : Part II

by Charlie Andrews

Some History

In the 1970’s the only efforts to market Carlisle were by the merchants themselves. For many years they met once a month for a breakfast meeting at the old Bellaire House Restaurant, first as the Central Carlisle Business Association then as the Downtown Business Association. Essentially, the marketing efforts were of group advertising in the local newspapers and radio, holiday specials, and a one big annual event, “Sidewalk Sales” in July. The effect of two malls on the edges of Carlisle had already wrought dramatic change in the downtown (and in downtowns across America). Stores like Montgomery Wards, Penney’s, The Bon-Ton, Wengers, etc., moved to the malls. The downtown still had a lot to offer in its owner-operated stores and restaurants within a beautiful and historic downtown setting.

It was obvious, however, that marketing efforts needed to be increased to attract new businesses and people. We needed a person who was paid to work on these efforts constantly and consistently, rather than relying on volunteer merchants who already had a lot to do just running their businesses.

In 1980, the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of then president Len Doran, proposed the formation of an organization and the hiring of an individual whose job would be to coordinate existing marketing efforts and develop new ones. They would create new opportunities to celebrate Carlisle and bring outside people to the downtown. There would be a board of directors with regular meetings, and various committees would be developed for events, beautification of the downtown, economic development, membership, etc. Initially, the Chamber of Commerce and the Borough each contributed money toward a matching grant from the state’s Department of Community Affairs (today called the Department of Community and Economic Development). The grant was made for each of three years, and after that the state grant ended. Local businesses and industries were also solicited and donated over $25,000. The idea was that after the grant ended, Carlisle would see the benefits of the program and continue to support it.

In Carlisle’s case, we did, but a number of communities across Pennsylvania didn’t. Many essentially lost their downtowns as far as economic effectiveness or meaning to their communities. Carlisle’s program, started in 1981, was initially called the Carlisle Economic Development Center. Today it is called the Downtown Carlisle Association (DCA).

Since its formation, the DCA has continued to develop group advertising ideas, new events (Octubafest, Street Hoops, Corvette Parade, etc.), financial assistance programs for facades and signage, and new marketing tools in the form of a Carlisle brochure and video, etc. Originally the goal was to draw people from the surrounding local areas to Carlisle. As the years have gone on though, it has became apparent that for Carlisle to really thrive and prosper, we need to draw people to Carlisle from out of the area, i.e. Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, northern Virginia, etc. At the same time, we also need to attract competent merchants to the downtown.

Other, positive developments in the downtown have been the Carlisle Theater, the downtown hotel, and the parking garage as well as the Carlisle Arts Learning Center and the expansion of the Cumberland County Historical Society. Additionally, we are seeing the redevelopment of the old Woolworth’s building and the fire ravaged properties on the corner of High and Pitt Streets.

From the DCA’s beginning in 1981 and into the 1990’s, Carlisle had turned its downtown around and improved it significantly.

Go to Part III

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part VII

by Charlie Andrews

Where Do We Go From Here?

The responsibility for this community ultimately falls to our Borough Government. That does NOT mean that they do it all. We all share in the responsibility for this effort and it’s implementation. It does, however, mean that the Borough has the responsibility to show leadership in this effort themselves and through their appointees.

I would suggest a moderated, strategic planning meeting, hosted by the Borough at a public place in the downtown. The critical participants are the Borough of Carlisle, Cumberland County, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Carlisle Association. Other individuals or organizations such as the Historical Society, Dickinson College and others deemed necessary should also be included.

The object of this meeting is to design a specific action plan and assign responsibilities, with the ultimate goal of reshaping the Downtown Carlisle Association into a true marketing office. This office would be responsible for promoting and marketing Carlisle to the outside world, with a view to attracting people to Carlisle and its downtown for shopping, tourism, recreation, education, and culture. Concurrently, efforts should continue for attracting and recruiting quality merchants to the downtown.

I think a moderator would be helpful in keeping the meeting on track. Some of the objectives of this meeting might be:

• Establishing of a committee responsible for moving this forward.
• Outlining the scope of responsibilities of a rebuilt DCA.
• Identifying initial funding sources (to cover first 5 years).
• Identifying tasks and entities responsible for them.
• Establishing of a timeline for completion of actions.
• Establishing of any other subcommittees needed.

Thank You for . . .
taking the time to look this over. This document is meant to bring attention to a serious situation in our community. None of this will change overnight, but it will change, to first stop our decline and then to move us forward. Carlisle is a beautiful, historic and charming town with tremendous potential to thrive, and not just survive. This effort requires some courage and effort, but we have nothing to lose and the world to gain.

Sincerely,
*
Charles W. Andrews
249-1721
c2464@aol.com

A&F Rental Property Management Partners

A&F Rental Property Management Partners

Started in 2000, Allen & Fleming Rental Property Management Partnership is a family owned and managed property management business founded in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our goal is to find unique, historic, and ideally situated apartment and commercial units to renovate, restore, and revamp into modern day havens for both living and conducting business while maintaining the historic charm and architecture of downtown Carlisle.  Currently A&F has renovated and restored several buildings in downtown Carlisle including the home of the Gaia Fresh Food Café.  As of 2012, A&F was located exclusively in Carlisle, Pennsylvania focusing on restoring old buildings in the town’s beautiful historic district.

Also like facebook.com/CarlisleRents and follow @CarlisleRents

Carlisle Rents A&F Rental Property Management Partners
36 S Pitt St, Suite 105
Carlisle, PA 17013
302-827-3681

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The Marketing of Carlisle : Part IV

by Charlie Andrews

A Return To Growth

What does a viable, dynamic and prosperous downtown offer?
• Increased employment.
• Increased property values.
• The adaptive reuse and renovation of older existing structures.
• Increased tax revenues.
• A more attractive community for new business, industry and residents.
• Enhanced quality of life for all of Carlisle.

The “Marketing of Carlisle” concept is supported by significant data and research. A 1997 study commissioned by the Greater Carlisle Chamber of Commerce and prepared by the Danth Corporation is called A Retail Marketing Strategy for Carlisle, PA. The study cites the strengths and weaknesses of Carlisle, and recommends strategies for revitalization. In regards to the downtown it says: “This downtown has a number of important assets, not the least of which is a leadership that fashioned an effective positioning strategy and made important improvements. Because of these improvements and policies, as well as the downtown’s other development assets, DANTH believes that Downtown Carlisle is ready to emerge from its chrysalis and become a true regional destination.”

In 2000, an actual blueprint for the downtown’s revitalization came from the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority, and was approved by the DCA. It is titled Carlisle MainStreets Plan: The Road to Shaping the Downtown into a Commercial and Retail Power Center. The plan describes the leasing of 30,000 square feet of first floor space for prime retail space, the development of 20,000 square feet of class A office space on second floors, and 25 market rate apartments in the downtown. It also addresses public relations and business recruitment, facade and public private site improvements and even public and semipublic art. In conclusion, the report states: ”Consensus on a downtown strategy is of critical importance. National retailers overall want to know what the overall goals of the downtown revitalization effort are before locating in a downtown. Funding agencies such as state government also want assurances that there is consensus on an overallstrategy. For these reasons, Carlisle MainStreets can be an important document to help guide the downtown effort in both the short and long term.”

The recently completed Drive Shed Report by the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance states that within a 20 minute drive of Carlisle: “The population in this area is estimated to change from 393,935 to 395,848, resulting in a growth of 0.5% between 2000 and 2004. Over the next five years (2005-2010), the population is projected to grow by 1.6%”.

The return to growth for the downtown will require a resurgence of the DCA. The DCA’s executive director’s position needs to be upgraded in salary and benefits. The position’s job description needs to have an overriding emphasis on marketing and communications. There needs to be an increase in funding for materials, memberships in outside marketing groups, advertising packages in outside areas we are targeting, etc. Again from the DANTH study: “The responsibility for implementing the Downtown development strategy presented in this report would fall mainly upon the Downtown Carlisle Association (the DCA). While in the past the DCA has shown itself to be an effective organization, it is highly doubtful that this small staff and modest budget will be sufficient to implement the proposed strategy. The required heavy promotions and advertising, in both the print and broadcast media, means that the DCA will need substantially more program funds for air time and print ads. The additional recruitment efforts, targeted though they might be, will also require additional program funds. The ads, promotions and recruitment materials will all have to be designed. All of this will require additional staff who have the proper training and job experience.”

Funding this effort initially for the first five years should be a coalition of the Borough, County, Chamber of Commerce, DCA, major businesses and industries. It should also include any state or federal funding sources such as Community Development Block Grant funds and the Department of Community and Economic Development and other private and local sources detailed in the Carlisle MainStreets Plan. Two years before the end of this funding period, the borough should enact an ordinance for the creation of a “Business District Authority” (BDA), or as described in the DANTH study: “DANTH strongly recommends that Carlisle’s leaders seriously explore the feasibility of establishing a Downtown Investment District to provide some of the additional funds the DCA will require.”

The report further states: “These districts are a mechanism that allow downtown business operators and property owners to assess themselves and thus raise the funds needed to provide the special services and improvements that can revitalize a downtown. The other citizens of the municipality are not assessed! but all who might benefit from a special service district are assessed according to some fair and agreed upon formula.”

The bottom line is that we will know if this course of action is working within three years, and if it is, the BDA or some other formula to sustain it will be doable.

Development a marketing plan is crucial, and this responsibility would be that of the executive director of the DCA. This would become a strategy to use our funds tactically to derive the greatest return.

Go to Part V