NDDC Outlines Progress on Economic Vitality

Feb08BoardMtgJaciSmith.jpgThe following piece appeared on page 6B in the Northfield News’ special Progress section this Saturday. The photo at left, of the NDDC Board of Directors, was submitted but not published with the piece. The numerous references to collaborative efforts in economic development mentioned by the “Four Partners” (the Chamber, the EDA, the NDDC and the NEC) in the special section were, we believe, a positive sign for the community.

Working Together for a Vital and Vibrant Future

The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) continues to follow the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Four Point Main Street strategy, as it has since its creation in 2000. Sharing the belief that a strategy for downtown economic vitality must be comprehensive in order to be both successful and lasting, we are initiating and implementing projects and programs in the four areas of Promotion, Organization, Design and Economic Restructuring. During the past 12 months:

  • In the area of Promotion, the NDDC staged the 3rd Annual “Taste of Northfield”, introduced “Patty Cash”, downtown’s bovine ambassador, and is moving forward on a second “Visit Historic Northfield” sign on Interstate 35.
  • In the area of Organization, the NDDC conducted a 5th year of monthly downtown forums on topic relevant to downtown, coordinated Block Head Gatherings for two-way communication with stakeholders, and collected information for a retail referral index.
  • In the area of design, the NDDC assisted the City in the installation of new bike racks, benches, planters and way-finding signage, coordinated the annual downtown lightpole banner program with the City and re-launched collaborative discussions of long-term parking solutions for existing and growing needs.
  • In the area of Economic Restructuring, the NDDC advocated for policy that resulted in the drafting of new legislation by the State Legislature to address ever-rising commercial property taxes in historic downtowns, successfully advocated for the creation of a Building Code Board of Appeals and conducted Board of Director visits to downtown businesses.

Downtown serves as social, cultural and economic engine for the community. The original asset of Northfield was the Cannon River, but today, the downtown district is the fulcrum from which business retention, recruitment and entrepreneurship are leveraged.

Downtown is not an island, however. There must be synergies between our historic central business district, the nearby highway commercial district, our major employers to the north and west, and the potential sites for future development, if the community is to maximize its economic potential.

Partnerships and collaborations are the key to achieving these synergies. Whether in longer-term programs or immediate projects, strong relationships, which take advantage of distinctive skills and experiences, build the connections that continually and consistently create the synergy necessary for Northfield to reach its economic potential.

The NDDC has a tradition of working in collaboratively in partnerships with other groups. From the very earliest years, the organization has pursued shared visions and goals working with these other groups.

  • The NDDC has partnered with the Northfield Arts Guild on ArtSwirl, cross-promoted events with the Northfield Historical Society, and pursued a Retail Support Strategies Plan with the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) at the request of the Northfield Economic Development Authority (EDA).
  • In recent months, the NDDC has supported promotions initiated by private businesses, worked in collaboration with the Northfield Enterprise Center (NEC) on retaining, expanding and recruiting downtown businesses, and helped launch the First Annual JuneBug Music Festival.
  • Current projects include coordinated advertising with the Chamber, Economic Development Authority and the NEC, a media “how-to” guide with the NEC, and a Welcome to Downtown for new and returning students with Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges.

A strategy of comprehensive, consistent and collaborative tactics offer great potential benefits for the whole community. In these times of increased competition and greater challenges, such an approach is essential. The NDDC is committed to this strategy in all of its current and future activities.