SPRINGDALE – The Downtown Springdale Alliance has 28 new, developing and growing companies in the city’s central district over the past year – despite the closure caused by covid-19.
“The year has been unprecedented,” said Jill Dabbs, CEO of Allianz. “But we’ve never slowed down.”
Dabbs gave the Allianz annual report to the city council on Tuesday evening. The city is entering into a $ 50,000 per year contract with the Alliance to provide development efforts and events in support of the revitalization efforts of the city center.
The contract has been the same for the past five years, although the Alliance’s role has grown, Dabbs said. The alliance keeps the calendar and plans events for Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park. The group also manages multi-million dollar grants for development in the district, including Luther George Park.
The alliance operates on a budget of $ 3 million each year, Dabbs said. Additional money comes from sponsorships and ticket income, she said.
The Outdoor Dining District also proved successful for Allianz. Nearly 10,000 take-away drinks were served in five months, Dabbs said. The City Council approved the Outdoor Dining District in August.
In the district, customers can buy drinks from the alcoholic bars and restaurants and take their drinks with them while they walk, shop and gather around downtown, Dabbs said.
Dabbs said the alliance measured the district’s impact by purchasing the first 10,000 disposable cups for the drinks and distributing them in 500 pieces at restaurants and bars. If the restaurants and bars sold out from the first allotment, they would ask the alliance for an additional 500 and allow the organization to count attendance, she said.
Bars and restaurants reported higher sales, and downtown retail stores reported more pedestrian traffic than the district was open, the report said.
Among the new and expanding businesses are 13 restaurants, bars or will include such entertainment in their projects.
“Here are the opportunities that the outdoor restaurant you approved offers,” Dabbs told the council. “This has been a long way to help the restaurants and bars in the district during the closure.”
The city began creating an downtown arts district in 2019. The district has brought in investment in the arts as well as creative culture, art installations, and maker space, Dabbs said.
The establishment of an arts district through the city has also brought talent to Springdale to help out local artists, she said.
Last week Allianz announced grants from the Walton Family Foundation for four local artists to create four murals on the walls of downtown. Other grants from the Walton Family Foundation, Oz Art, and the Arts Center of the Ozarks have created two murals and made two incomplete ones available, Dabbs said.
The Walton Foundation and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission have given grants to build facades for three storefronts on Emma Avenue, which should be completed by spring, Dabbs continued.
Dabbs reported that due to the virus, the alliance had to stop all planned public events by the fall. “But we found out,” said Dabbs.
The alliance drew 5,000 people downtown for the four events it offered in 2020. The socially distant events included different entertainment options than in a year without a pandemic, Dabbs said. These turned out to be so successful that activities will continue this year, she continued.
For example, Oktoberfest was spread out over a month, not limited to a weekend, and the Dia de los Muertos event was moved from the Ozarks Art Center outside to Shiloh Square, she said.
People visit outside of Mr. Taco Loco Tuesday in downtown Springdale. Visit nwaonline.com/210224Daily/ for today’s photo gallery (NWA Democrat-Gazette / Spencer Tirey).
To see the presentation, visit: nwaonline.com/224presentation/
Laurinda Joenks can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWALaurinda.