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RACINE – Downtown Racine Corp. (DRC) this week reported a few silver linings amid a 2020 that was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Downtown business development and promotional organization summarized its accomplishments in its 2020 Review.

“Despite the intense challenges we faced, we were able to pivot and provide major resources to the Downtown merchants. Our emphasis was always on implementing safe dining, shopping and events for residents and visitors while keeping our Downtown economically stable.” Kelly Kruse, DRC executive director, said in a news release.

The DRC released its 2020 Review this week, which summarizes the year’s accomplishments in five major areas:

COVID Initiatives and Assistance

The DRC and City of Racine responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing:

• Ten tables and umbrellas added on Monument Square to encourage outdoor dining.

• Bagged parking meters in front of restaurants.

• Curbside pickup signage for all businesses.

• Two outdoor scavenger hunts.

• Sidewalk café license fee waived.

• Installation of 11 hand sanitizing stations added along Main and Sixth streets.

• Creation of a restaurant map/guide showing outdoor dining options.

Business Development

DRC continued its role as a resource for identifying new business prospects and developing economic tools for further private investment.

In 2020, 10 new businesses opened Downtown: Los Amos Tacos, The Corner House on the Lake, JM Accounting, State Farm – Shelley Hickman, Taeja Vu’s on Main, Envy Fits & Fashions, Jeff Shawhan Gallery, Market on Main, La Favorita Tortita, Miracle Salt Collection and Wings of Fire -The Phoenix.

Last year’s new business activity was down from 24 openings in 2019 and 23 openings in 2018.

DRC also developed and distributed a Merchant Resource Guide and Market Profile.

Marketing of Downtown

Digital marketing, social media, and print advertising were prioritized in 2020. DRC’s website had more than 48,000 site-visits and combined followers of more than 24,000 on social media and email.

The organization ran more than 30 print ads promoting events and shopping. It implemented a promotional campaign targeted to northern Illinois and Milwaukee by distributing Downtown Racine Visitors Guide to locations along the Interstate 94 corridor. In addition, it created an online holiday gift guide, which featured 65 gift ideas and had more than 4,000 page views.

Community Events

Despite the challenges in 2020, the DRC hosted 65 smaller, socially distanced events including live music, Wine Walks, Candy Crawls, Beer & Bacon Walk (new) and Bend and Brew (yoga).

Clean and Safe Initiatives

The DRC along with Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) #1 implemented initiatives to make Downtown aesthetically pleasing throughout the year. These included sidewalk cleaning, weekend security, gorgeous flower displays, banners and holiday decorations like the Holiday tree on Monument Square.

“A thriving downtown doesn’t happen by accident. It takes vision, partnership, and persistence. It takes the commitment of people who care about this place. I am amazed at the passion so many people had in supporting our downtown during this extremely challenging year for small businesses.” Kruse said. “I urge everyone to not waiver in their dedication to patronizing downtown businesses.

For more information on Downtown events, volunteering, and business listings, click here.


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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...