Event just one step to make vibrant downtown

By Errin Welty, for USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The opportunity to celebrate and support local businesses is being embraced by many commercial districts throughout Wisconsin. In fact, Wausau is one of more than two dozen communities that are part of Wisconsin’s Main Street and Connect Communities programs that are hosting additional activities and promotions to encourage downtown shoppers to linger longer.

Surveys conducted in various Wisconsin communities during last year’s Small Business Saturday point to the ability of these types of events to not only boost spending during a single day, but to build a relationship with local consumers. Successful events also created a number of additional benefits, such as introducing customers to additional businesses within the district, raising awareness of local civic or charitable organizations, and creating the opportunity for residents and visitors to mingle.

While this singular and well-intentioned event provides many stores with a nice jump start to the holiday season, ensuring the long-term success of those downtown business is something that can’t be accomplished in a one day. A well thought-out strategy, buy-in from the business community, visionary leadership from local stakeholders of all types, and a year-round focus are all keys to successful commercial districts.

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