Since 2007, Catherine has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Downtown Association, helping cities improve their downtown areas with creative solutions to draw in visitors. Looking at her background, it’s not difficult to understand where her passion for thriving cities stems from. Catherine has called many places home, born and raised in Gainesville, she has also lived in Atlanta, New Orleans, Eugene in Oregon, and now Austin. A Bachelors degree in Political Science from Emory University coupled with a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans has equipped Catherine perfectly to fulfill her goal of reviving downtown areas. As fulfilling and no doubt busy as her work is, Catherine enjoys cooking, reading, swimming, live music, and traveling; with a desire to visit and experience Greece.
LOW COST BEAUTIFICATION
Banners – In Palestine, banners are made out of metal by a local metalsmith, they’re beautiful and unique.
Flower Baskets – Cuero
Stained Concrete Sidewalks – In Ganado they look like bricks
Paint by number murals – Lampasas
What are some problems that you often see in downtown areas?
Do you have any tips or advice on the best way to alleviate these issues?
People have to talk to one another and start a dialog about an issue.
What is the best use of social media that you have seen used by a Downtown area?
When a coffee shop opened in Downtown Tyler, the city’s Main Street program sponsored a contest that involved hiding a coffee mug in a different downtown location each day and they would offer clues about its location via Instagram. The person that found the mug had to post a picture of themselves with the mug, in the downtown office or business, on Instagram. Their prize was free coffee for a year.
What is a must have for Downtown areas to be successful?
Cooperation. It is not possible to be successful if the community can’t work together.
What is the most noteworthy transformation that you have seen a downtown area experience?
That’s a tough question. I can think of one downtown that struggles with vacancies but the community support for downtown is so strong that it outweighs almost all other challenges. On the other hand, I know of another downtown that looks great from the outside but there is so much political infighting and bickering that I worry about their downtown health for the long term.
What are some marketing strategies that every Downtown Area should be implementing?
#1: Identify your target audience for a specific campaign. Families? Retirees? Millenials? Empty nesters? This will determine which medium is best.
What is the biggest role of the TDA in assisting small communities to revitalize their downtowns?
TDA is an amazing network. Our members are always so willing to offer advice, help each other and share everything – design guidelines, vendor forms, and recommendations for consultants and service providers. As an organization we also offer direct support, host events, and advocate for downtown issues.
What are the benefits and requirements of membership with the TDA?
Anyone that cares about downtown can join TDA. Our members represent cities and towns of all sizes, economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, businesses, and individuals.
How does a small business get a chance to be featured in the Downtown Presidents Awards Program Magazine?
Our awards program recognizes outstanding downtown projects, places, and people. Nominations are accepted from members and non-members and are due the last Friday in July. An independent panel of judges selects the finalists and winners. Finalists are featured in our awards program, and winners are announced annually at the Texas Downtown Conference. This year’s conference will be held November 7-10 in McKinney.
What is the most effective method you have seen a small business employ to attract new customers?
Gimmicks come and go. In my opinion the most effective method to attract new customers is to provide the most amazing, outstanding customer service ever. Happy customers are the best way to get more customers.
Please explain the Shared Employee program. Are there any other cooperative arrangements that you have seen successfully implemented?
I learned about a shared employee program from another state but think that it would be a great idea for small businesses that need additional workers but not necessarily full time.
How useful are surveys in determining how to benefit Downtown Areas?
Surveys are an excellent way to get feedback from businesses, customers, residents, and visitors. They can be set up to allow people to provide input anonymously and to share their concerns and ideas or just vent. Surveys can also yield some great ideas that a city/downtown organization hadn’t considered before.
Please explain the importance of wayfinding in a community.
Wayfinding is important because it provides a way to guide people through your community and downtown. It offers a way to promote local attractions, inform people about government services, and move people to your downtown.
What is crowd funding?
Crowdfunding is a way to raise money for a project or cause by fundraising via small donations from a large number of people. Typically crowdfunding campaigns are run online and there are multiple platforms, including ones that are geared towards funding civic projects.
What is tactical urbanism?
Tactical urbanism is a way to improve the built environment with low cost projects that are usually temporary installations.
Interested in checking out some Texas Downtown Events? Click here to see the schedule!