As we gear up for tourism season with multiple events, we need to make sure our “house” is clean and presentable for our visitors. Downtown Freeport is a frequent stop for these visitors and a focus of the Greater Freeport Partnership this year. Apart from wanting our neighborhood to look nice, cleaning up and prettifying the area also has an economic impact. A recent study by Gerald A. Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Albert Saiz of Massachusetts Institute of Technology examines the connection between a city’s beauty and key growth indicators. Increases in leisure visits, tourism-related employment, population, housing prices and real estate appreciation can be positive results of beautification efforts. (source: “The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth” by Richard Florida, 5/15/19)
So, what are we doing about that? This year, the Greater Freeport Partnership is leading several downtown beautification efforts, in conjunction with the City of Freeport:
- Flowers & plantings. Deininger Floral, the Partnership and business owners have contributed to purchase and distribute twenty hanging flower baskets and nine flower pots. The City of Freeport has hired part-time employees to water and weed this summer.
- Banners. The Partnership is researching design and placement of banners to delineate the downtown shopping area. Funding for this initiative will include business contributions. The City of Freeport will contribute in-kind labor to hang the banners.
- Street furniture. The Partnership wrote a grant securing $2500, to be matched with Partnership funds and business contributions, to start purchasing replacement garbage cans and benches throughout the downtown. Two benches and six garbage cans will be purchased this year. The long-term plan will include the replacement of twenty-eight garbage cans and twelve benches. The City of Freeport will contribute in-kind support in the demolition and disposal of old furniture.
There is a standing committee of business owners and interested citizens working on this continuing effort. If you are interested in joining this group or have ideas, please contact the Greater Freeport Partnership at 815-233-1354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
- Rebecca Motley is the Executive Director at the Greater Freeport Partnership, having relocated from Central Illinois in mid-2018. She has over 25 years’ experience in small business ownership, banking, non-profit management, real estate investment and economic development and holds a B.S. in economics and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca is charged with the vision, direction and funding of the Partnership’s goals to promote Stephenson County and support businesses.
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