Earlier this month, the JRC hosted a workshop for business owners and community stakeholders. Jaime Izurieta, who is known as “Shop window boy.”
Urban Core Director Frank Besse described Izurieta as an out-of-town professional with extensive experience in the business community who has a “passion” for downtown storefronts and high street businesses.
The JRC workshop included a presentation by Izurieta, a discussion with local business leaders and a tour of the downtown area. Besse said the workshop presented an opportunity for local businesses to learn about “Best Practices,” different ideas for store locations, such as the JRC, Department of Development and other organizations can support the downtown area and as a community can work together to “create a sense of identity and improve walkability and connectivity downtown of the city of Jamestown.
As part of the workshop, Izurieta challenged business and community leaders to consider one “sense of identity” and discover the things that make Jamestown unique. He encouraged business leaders to develop a “Feeling of pride” in the community.
“The main thing was to educate and inspire downtown business owners to think a little differently about their storefronts and their roles.” said Besse.
After the workshop, JRC has already seen business owners show interest in making improvements to their storefronts. While Besse said specific details about potential business improvements cannot yet be revealed, he believes the workshop achieved its goal of motivating businesses to consider positive changes.
“I think we’ve had some really great conversations already with people who are looking to do things to improve.” he said. “A few different things are being discussed, but what we’re seeing is people taking the material from the workshop and talking to their staff, talking to their business partners, talking to their owners about ideas that they can implement.”
While many business owners were inspired to consider implementing new techniques or improvements to their businesses, Besse said other business owners found affirmation in Izuieta’s presentation. He acknowledged that the amount of time, care and detail that goes into a successful showcase is a huge commitment.
“It gave them some confidence that they’re on the right track, that they’re doing things that make sense.” said Besse. “It was good to hear from them that they feel like they are on the right track.”
Moving forward, the JRC hopes to implement several grant funding opportunities for businesses that participated in the showcase mastery workshop to help businesses achieve their improvement goals. Meanwhile, Besse said local businesses are already working with design professionals, construction contractors and other potential partners to take the next steps to improve the downtown region.
“One of the things we know is that if everyone can do their part to make things nicer and more attractive, it will give the center a bit more movement and energy and promote those businesses , so people know about them.”
Working together to improve “aesthetic level” in downtown Jamestown, Besse believes local residents will be encouraged to walk more and visit local shops more regularly. He emphasized the importance of every business and organization making a concerted effort to improve store locations to create a “compound” effect that can benefit the entire community and make Jamestown “a better place.”
While the workshop and showcase program were meant to inspire and facilitate improvement for local businesses, Besse said the program also serves as a reminder of the importance of JRC’s work in the downtown region.
“It’s helping to educate and empower business owners to see where they play that role, but then also when those business owners are looking to take additional steps to do a better job with their storefront, that exerts indirect and direct pressure on the Jamestown Revival. Corporation, in the city, to make sure we’re keeping our end of the bargain,” he said.