Bismarck’s downtown business association is aiming to answer such questions as whether the area could support another clothing boutique or whether there is a block that could be marketed as the district's art street.
The Downtowners have contracted with Stantec on a neighborhood market analysis.
“We’ll get a better picture of just what’s happening in the downtown,” said Kate Herzog, COO of the Downtowners.
The analysis is meant to catalog how buildings in the downtown are being used and what new endeavors the business district might be able to support, according to The National Main Street Center program. The results also can identify ways for existing businesses to adjust their marketing to increase sales and expand their consumer base.
Herzog said, for example, the downtown could be losing on a share of the local grocery market because there is no grocer there.
“I think it will be nice to know where gaps are,” said Assistant City Administrator Jason Tomanek.
Whether it be a particular type of retail or entertainment, knowing what would thrive and what’s already offered gives area developers an idea on the types of businesses to target for their space.
Tomanek said it also may generate interest in the area from those proprietors of new businesses, encouraging them and giving them the confidence in their ideas to move in and make them a reality.
Also new to the downtown in the coming year will be Bismarck’s first Towns and Gowns Summit, Herzog said. Towns and Gowns is an international organization that helps its members form beneficial partnerships between colleges and the towns in which they are located.
This past year, the Downtowners took the first step of hanging street banners for the University of Mary Marauders, something Herzog said is commonly seen in other college towns but has not previously been prominent in Bismarck.
Herzog said the Downtowners would like to bring more of that college town feel to Bismarck, as the group estimates there are about 7,000 students in the area, including those from Bismarck State College, U-Mary and United Tribes Technical College.
The second annual Marauders on Main was an example of the city’s collegiate presence, Herzog said. Event attendance was up to about 500 people this year, compared to about 300 last year, she said. And in Mandan, Marauder hockey events have been selling out.
The purpose of the Towns and Gowns Summit will be to learn from other college towns about what has worked for them. The relationships the program has built gives universities a more exciting town in which to market to potential students and it gives businesses future employees they may recruit from those colleges, Herzog said.