In attendance:

Line & Pernilla – Kreatelier
Elise – Luli Boutique
Josh – Rhode Guide
Dan – Providence Monthly
Wendy – Jewish Alliance
Maria – Angel’s Hair Studio
Ann Gooding – City of Providence / Economic Development
Lynn – Seven Stars
Sal & Jennifer – Olive del Mondo
Meg – Pippa’s Papers
Jan – Stock
Nina – Studio Hop
Virginia – Hope Returns
John – Green River Silver

CITY & SMALL BUSINESS COOPERATION

Ann Gooding introduced herself and shared her strong ties to Hope Street and praised the way the HSMA has grown.  In her role as communications director in the Economic Development department for the City, she outlined a number of ways that the administration is actively offering support and resources for Providence’s small businesses and its other merchants’ associations.

Currently the City offers programs for small businesses in the areas of innovation, investment and working capital.  A Storefront Improvement grant is now available in which the City will match, up to 10K on a 20K project, funds for projects that might include security systems, new windows, doors, permanent plantings, landscaping.  The grant is available for stores in the low to moderate income level or for stores that will hire one qualifying full time person.  For more details, click here: http://www.providenceri.com/storefront

Other programs and workshops offered through the City include help with social media instruction, crowd funding, business plan development and access to free job fairs with on-the-job training heavily subsidized.  For more information, start here:

https://www.providenceri.com/economic-development

In a Q & A that followed Ann’s presentation, Pernilla asked if the City could help the HSMA get a 501c3 designation, something that had been discussed at various subcommittees.  Ann answered that it is more likely the City can help with actual logistics and negotiation around street festivals and fairs, such as helping with road closure.

Ann also asked if the HSMA would be willing to attend a meeting drawing all eleven merchants’ associations together for sharing challenges, opportunities and best practices.  The attendees indicated they would be happy to join a group merchants’ meeting.

MARKETING WITHIN THE CITY

Ann proposed that we invite corporate heads, mayoral candidates and council members to see the impact of small business on a neighborhood.  She also recommended speaking with Len Lardaro at URI to ascertain to get metrics on the economic impact locally.

Josh of Rhode Guide proposed putting together a citywide map that shows all the merchants districts across Providence and asked if the City would help with that.

For assistance with marketing, Ann recommended connecting with BridgeRI, which matches interns with jobs.  https://bridge.jobs/

For more information on what the City is doing, follow the Economic Development department (and Ann) on Twitter @PVDBiz.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Meg and Jan shared a web & text based service, GroupMe, that allows groups to communicate instantly through a browser or through smart phones.  www.groupme.com

Currently on GroupMe is an opt-in group called HSMA to which members and others on the street are invited to join.  This service allows mass distribution of a security alert, such as a shoplifter, a counterfeiter, or any other emergency.  The idea is to use it sparingly in the case of genuine issues and not for chatter.  There is also an app, which is optional. But with the browser opened to the page or a smart phone nearby, instant messages can be transmitted that can help the entire street stay abreast of unusual activity.

If you want to be included on the Group Me list and you have not yet given us your information, please let us know by replying to this email with your email or cell phone number and you will receive an invitation.

(Please note that if your mobile service charges for texts – these communications will be charged.  If you want to avoid these occasional charges, supply your email for the browser option instead. If you have unlimited messaging or typically don’t reach your threshold, then this is a completely free service.  And again, the intention is to keep messages to a minimum with only active alerts.)

Meg created a handy FAQ which is attached to this document.

For more information about Group Me, please contact Meg at Pippa’s Papers or Jan at Stock.

PASTA DINNER / FUNDRAISER

Sunday, March 23rd, Phyllis at Blaze is hosting a family style fundraiser to help support the Spring Block Party.  Please spread the word! Tickets are $15 per person and are available at Blaze, Stock, Kreatelier and elsewhere.

SPRING FESTIVAL, CYCLOVIA AND OTHER EVENTS

The Spring Festival committee meets EVERY Tuesday at 9am to help plan this year’s event on May 31st.  If you would like to attend, or volunteer in any way or help find sponsors, your involvement is very welcome.

Dixie is working on sponsorship package; in general it is intended to target smaller and local business rather than pursue the larger corporations.  It has many tiers and opportunities for involvement at many levels.  It is currently being fine tuned, but anybody with interest in pursuing sponsorships is welcome to get involved.

It was proposed and generally agreed that the food truck fee for the larger events should be raised to at least $100 from $75.

This year the Festival would like to feature a booth with branded merchandise that supports the HSMA as well as offer sponsorship flyers.  These items could include water, tshirts, bags, etc.

Cyclovia is early this year, September 7th, from 12 – 6.  It is managed by the City, sponsored by Miriam and is centered on health and fitness.  If you know anybody in the fitness community who would like to be involved or to sponsor, please reach out to Line, Pernilla or Dixie.

HSMA BRANDING & MARKETING

Jennifer and Sal are leading the effort to create new branding for the street as well as a map that shows the businesses on the street.  They intend to create something that is inexpensive but with high design values and get it into tourist oriented sites such as at the convention center, local hotels, and other spots where people gather.

For active HSMA members, these maps might include small descriptors as a value add.

They are also leading the charge and creating the template for a newsletter that will help the street publicize its events and its stores.

Dan offered assistance from Providence Monthly to help create a map or pocket guide.  John mentioned designers at RISD he could tap as well.

For further information on any of these initiatives or to volunteer on marketing and branding, please contact Jennifer and Sal at Olive del Mondo.

The hopestreetprov.com website is still being maintained by a third party web designer, Laura.  If you’d like to add a page to the website, the cost has been reduced from $150 to $75 as membership dues now cover half of the expense.  Please contact Line for further information.

HSMA DUES

John is collecting HSMA dues now! $300 for the year or $150 in two installments (or you can talk to John about other installment arrangements.)

There were many proposals about other ways to structure the dues for greater participation, especially among the smaller businesses and the restaurants.  These ideas include:

  • Restaurants hosting fundraisers instead of paying dues
  • Fees lowered for smaller business
  • Tiered fees based on the amount of volunteer work done

Line and Pernilla are open to talking about other dues ideas.  There are many intangibles to belonging to the association which can benefit everybody on the street.  If you are interested in joining or have ideas about dues, please reach out to them.

MISCELLANEOUS

A threading salon is taking the corner spot on Rochambeau and Hope where the consignment store was.

Groundworks Providence which trains youth and low income Mt. Hope residents in job skills approached Line about a fundraiser.  Line and Pernilla will pick up gift certificates if you want to participate.

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