Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance staff members Jessica Chase and Alexis Morehouse have been accepted as lecturers for the 2009 National Main Street Conference this March in Chicago. This is the second year that the Harrisonburg organization will present their achievements to a national audience.
Last year, Eddie Bumbaugh presented the success of the group’s annual fundraiser event, Renaissance Night. Now, in accordance with the conference’s theme Becoming Main Street 2.0, Chase and Morehouse will present marketing, community outreach and volunteer recruitment ideas through virtual networking initiatives. Using non-traditional methods of marketing such as Facebook, online posts, Flickr, search engine optimization and blogs, the organization has seen significant initial response from community members of all generations.
“The idea is to find communication venues that require minimal investment, but yield high returns” says Morehouse, HDR’s Promotions Manager, “We were surprised to see our web hits jump from fifty one day, to five-hundred the next day just by adding a Flickr slideshow to our website” adds Chase, Program Manager. The two have worked to create a cohesive multi-media outreach campaign entitled Do Downtown. The goal of the campaign is to engage all age demographics in downtown revitalization – even students.
The staff of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance will travel to Chicago for this conference in March and have utilized tuition reimbursements, scholarships, lecturer discounts and dollars raised from a yard sale fundraiser to decrease costs to the organization.
“The effort is worth it since we learn so much from the conference and use tips of the trade to improve our work in Harrisonburg” says Kris Ludwig, Special Events Manager who won her tuition reimbursement from the National Main Street organization. Harrisonburg is one of only five Virginia communities able to attend this national conference and executive director, Eddie Bumbaugh attributes the accomplishment to a team effort:
“Our staff works hard to keep Harrisonburg in the forefront of the national revitalization movement. With supportive board members, city government and the community, we are able to keep the momentum moving forward.”