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Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership holds its annual meeting

The meeting was held at Roots Bakery, Bistro and Bar on East Franklin Street, where staff presented a “Chapel Hill By the Numbers” data report on development conditions downtown.

This report presents economic data from 2015 that was tracked with a database developed by Bobby Funk, assistant director with the Downtown Partnership.

Funk said the database allows the partnership to track information and figures on business openings, closings, retention, mix and value.

“We have work to do, but with this data we have a great baseline to judge ourselves with going forward,” he said.

The report states that the Downtown Partnership was able to assist 487 businesses with comprehensive resources, was able to welcome 15 new businesses to the downtown area and was able to provide nine businesses with grants for facility improvements in 2015.

Meg McGurk, Downtown Partnership executive director, said these figures show that an increasing number of businesses are turning to the partnership for resources.

“It just drives home that, clearly, downtown is the place our community wants to go to celebrate and be entertained,” McGurk said.

Sup Dogs restaurant owner Bret Oliverio was a guest speaker at the meeting. Oliverio talked about Sup Dog’s inception and about how the Downtown Partnership has supported the restaurant.

“The Sup Dogs brand, communications style and use of social media marketing and messaging are spot on for our community,” McGurk said. “They have completely embraced and engaged in this community, from the dancing hot dog, to the noisy atmosphere they create on game days.”

Oliverio said the Downtown Partnership was an important resource for his business. He said the agency has made a tremendous effort to assist local businesses with marketing and promotions, as well as with facilities and operations resources.

“There’s sort of a stigma that it’s tough to do businesses in Chapel Hill, but I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Oliverio said. McGurk also addressed the plan for the next three years. She said that the plan defines three areas that the agency is going to focus on: investment, creating a vibrant and welcoming space for community pride and business retention.

For 2016, McGurk said that the partnership has both internal and external objectives. Internally, the agency is working with the town to address changes to the parking system downtown, underage drinking and high-risk drinking. Externally, the partnership is assisting with the development of Carolina Square and Porthole Alley.

“We have a tremendous current downtown 2020 vision, and it’s a fantastic vision for where our downtown area could be,” McGurk said. “We need to get it adopted, and we need to begin working on it.”

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