Mayor Chris Beutler today said the Downtown Civic Ventures program has helped to spur a retail boom in downtown Lincoln. According to the Downtown Lincoln Association (DLA), 38 new retailers have opened downtown since 2010. Downtown Civic Ventures is a nonprofit subsidiary of DLA formed in 2007 to promote downtown business development.
"Livability.com just ranked Lincoln number seven in its list of Top 10 Downtowns, and the vibrant retail scene is a factor in our success," Mayor Beutler said at a news conference at Embellish, a boutique at 144 N. 13th Street. "A strong downtown is key to a strong community, and our efforts to recruit and retain retailers is very important to creating a unique sense of place. With all the new stores and restaurants, plenty of parking and the recently re-paved streets, there's never been a better time to be in downtown Lincoln!"
DLA President Terry Uland said Civic Ventures is a "one-stop shop" for retail businesses that want to open, expand or relocate. It was created as part of a retail support strategy developed in 2007 by DLA, the City of Lincoln, UNL, the NU Foundation and the Vision 2015 group. The City Council approved a grant of $50,000 to support the program, and private funds also have been donated to provide financial incentives
"It has been exciting to witness a flourishing downtown retail corridor in recent years," Uland said. "The addition of several new businesses and millions of dollars in private and public investment in the area are strong indicators of retail growth."
Downtown Civic Ventures has also allowed for initiatives such as the three Shop the Blocks events DLA has produced in partnership with Civic Ventures since November 2011. They attracted 1,800 shoppers and produced over $165,000 in sales for the participating businesses.
"I am pleased to own my store in an area where the community has come together to support local business," said. Ashlie Hadden, owner of Embellish. "Events like Shop the Blocks have helped ignite a spark and remind our City and its visitors everything downtown retail has to offer."
More information on the DLA, Civic Ventures and downtown retail is available at downtownlincoln.org.