Earlier this month, JRC hosted a workshop for business owners and stakeholders in the community. The workshop featured Jaime Izurieta, known as “The window guy.”
Frank Besse, director of Urban Core, described Izurieta as an urban professional with extensive business experience who a “Dedication” for downtown storefronts and high street stores.
The JRC workshop included a presentation by Izurieta, a discussion with local business leaders and a downtown tour. Besse said the workshop provides an opportunity for local businesses to learn about it “recommended course of action,” different ideas for showcase locations, how JRC, the Department for Development and other organizations can support downtown, and how the community can work together to “create a sense of identity and increase the walkability and connectivity of downtown Jamestown.
As part of the workshop, Izurieta invited business and community leaders to: a “sense of identity” and discover the things that make Jamestown unique. He encouraged business leaders to develop a “honor” in the community.
“The most important 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 was already able to see shop owners showing an interest in improvements to their store fronts. While Besse said specific details on potential business improvements are yet to be announced, he believes the workshop achieved its goal of motivating companies to consider positive change.
“I think we’ve already had some really great conversations with people who want to do things to improve themselves.” he said. “There’s a few different things being discussed, but what we’re seeing is people taking the material from the workshop and talking to their employees, talking to their business partners, talking to their landlords about ideas that they can implement.”
While many business owners have been inspired to consider implementing new techniques or improvements for their businesses, Besse said other business owners found validation in Izuieta’s presentation. He acknowledged that the amount of time, care and attention to detail that goes into a successful storefront is a huge commitment.
“It gave them a little confidence that they’re on the right track, that they’re doing meaningful things.” said Besse. “It was good to hear from them that they feel they are on the right track.”
In the future, the JRC hopes to implement some grant funding opportunities for the companies that attended the Storefront Mastery Workshop to help the companies meet their improvement goals. In the meantime, Besse said, local businesses are already working with design experts, contractors and other potential partners to take the next steps to improve the downtown area.
“One of the things we know is that if everyone can do their part to make things nicer and more welcoming, downtown will have a little more excitement and energy and encourage these businesses that people know about.” “
By working together to improve “aesthetic level” of downtown Jamestown, Besse believes residents will be encouraged to walk more and visit local shops more regularly. He stressed the importance of every company and organization making a concerted effort to improve storefront locations to ensure a “Connection” Effect that could benefit the whole community and make Jamestown “a better place.”
While the workshop and storefront mastery program were designed to inspire local businesses and facilitate improvement, Besse says the program also serves as a reminder of the importance of the JRC’s work in the inner city region.
“It helps educate and empower business owners to see where they play that role, but also when those business owners want to take additional steps to do a better job with their storefront, it puts pressure on them both indirectly and directly Renaissance from Jamestown Corporation, to the city to make sure we keep our end of the bargain.” he said.