Looking Ahead to 2016
As we start this New Year, Soul-y Austin is looking forward to a 2016 filled with hard work and success. After launching in May 2015, Soul-y Austin has been assisting three diverse commercial districts in the Austin area including the Red River Cultural District, 12th Street (I-35 to Airport), and Manor Road (I-35 to Airport). With assistance from its consultants, Soul-y Austin has been providing participating corridors with the support, education, and resources needed to successfully form merchants associations in each one of their districts.
During our first year, we were able to fully understand how complex the process of organizing businesses can be and how rewarding it is to see businesses shaking hands for the first time. We have learned about issues and concerns that business owners in our three commercial areas are facing and while they have their own unique issues there are many consistent themes among the three districts. Walkability, bikeable areas, rent and tax increases, and safety are all themes that Soul-y Austin districts have identified. The process of identifying these items allows the City of Austin to better understand the Soul-y Districts in order to provide them with the appropriate resources and services needed to succeed.
In 2016, Soul-y Austin will witness the formation of its first merchants associations. Upon finalizing the formation of the district Merchants Association these groups will be eligible for a $10,000 activation award, which will be used on a project to attract visitors and draw attention to their business district. In order to further assist districts with beautification efforts, Soul-y Austin will launch its façade enhancement program early this year, Façade Fresh. The application for the Façade Fresh grant will be available to participating businesses in the current Soul-y Austin districts. In addition, the team will be taking on three new districts in March 2016.
This New Year also serves as an opportunity for the Soul-y Austin team to accomplish goals that will benefit both the businesses and the program. In an attempt to expand the program and promote the districts, Soul-y Austin has teamed up with experts to produce videos for each district. The videos will include footage of the area as well as insight from selected individuals. The videos, which will be released throughout the year, serve as an opportunity for businesses to promote their services and serve as a marketing tool for visitors and out of towners. Another goal for the Soul-y Austin team is improving and expanding the trainings made available to the businesses in each commercial corridor. These trainings are necessary for each business to understand the process of forming an association as well as how to effectively manage and administrate merchants associations. The ultimate goal is for the City of Austin to provide businesses with resources and trainings that will lead to the development of an association that can positively impact the area both economically and physically.
Soul-y Austin would like to thank you for your support during 2015. Don’t forget to follow our blog and watch for future posts as we share the highlights of Soul-y Austin and Austin’s unique business districts. If you have questions or comments about this exciting opportunity, please contact Nicole Klepadlo, Program Manager at Nicole.Klepadlo@austintexas.gov or 512-974-7739.