On display: Ironton aLive at its annual meeting highlights 2014 activities

Published 10:54 am Friday, October 24, 2014

Ironton aLive’s Business After Hours and annual meeting on Thursday highlighted two things: the group’s successful past and its bright future.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came to our Business After Hours this evening at the Ro-Na,” Jon Ferguson, executive director, said. “It was a great evening with great food, drinks and company.”

Ironton aLive was created in 2012 as a way to generate greater business involvement with the organizations already working toward the revitalization of Ironton by working together, setting goals, implementing strategies and sharing resources committed to the continued growth, redevelopment and revitalization of Ironton.

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The meeting also displayed photos from the many activities sponsored or co-sponsored by Ironton aLive and its committees throughout the year. Each committee has a specific focus with set goals they wish to accomplish throughout the year and then produce an accounting of those goals at the annual meeting.

Door prizes were given away throughout the event.

Committees include business enhancement, promotions, design, and organization and maintenance.

Business enhancement involves strengthening the existing economic base of the downtown while diversifying it. Activities include helping existing downtown businesses, recruiting new businesses, providing a balanced mix of the two, converting unused space into productive property and sharpening the competitiveness of downtown merchants.

Design involves improving the downtown’s image by improving physical appearance — not just the appearance of buildings, but also street lights, window displays, parking areas, signs, sidewalks, streetscapes, landscaping, promotional materials and all other elements that convey a visual message about what the downtown is and what it has to offer.

Organization and maintenance is the building of consensus and cooperation between the groups that play a role in the downtown. Many individuals and organizations in the community have a stake in the economic viability of the downtown. It is also tasked with ensuring the proper management of the organization.

Promotions involve marketing the downtown’s unique characteristics to shoppers, investors, new businesses, tourists and others. Effective promotion creates a positive image of the downtown through retail promotional activity and special events utilizing the downtown as a stage area of community activities.

Some events from the past year are the Ironton Farmers Market, the Great “I”Town Scavenger Hunt and the upcoming Small Business Saturday “Shop Small” event on Nov. 29.

Since the early 1980s, Ironton has had a strong focus on the downtown revitalization of Ironton. Most of these efforts have utilized the national Mainstreet program’s principles and strategies. Over time, a number of civic groups, non-profit organizations and governmental organizations were created or took lead roles in the redevelopment effort.

Ironton aLive has formed solid relationships throughout the community, partnering with like-minded organizations and agencies.

The ongoing effort to promote Ironton and aid in the progression of its downtown continue with its new website, www.irontonalive.com, designed by Ironton aLive board member and professional Web designer Ginger Gillenwater.

“It’s a complete re-design of our existing site,” Gillenwater, owner of CAM Interactive, said. “We have integrated social media on the site and it allows a place for the public to interact.”

Brochures such as “Things to do in Ironton” and an Ironton dining guide are accessible on the site along with a business directory.

“Businesses are encouraged to sign up for our directory,” Gillenwater said. “Businesses are listed by type and when someone clicks on a business’ name it provides all essential information about that business and there’s a form on the bottom that allows sending a message straight to that business.”