Fighting Poverty with Passion
When businesses join StayLocal, we ask them: “if you had a magic wand and could change one thing related to your business, what would it be?” The top response we receive is “more customers.” As such, we’re constantly devising new ways to help local businesses reach more customers, and our Neighborhood Guides are one of the tools we use to do this.
The Guides both provide local businesses with low-cost marketing support and loop them into our network where they can take advantage of our services, such as our technical assistance programs, workshops, and networking events. The Guides also market New Orleans’ neighborhoods, which ultimately fosters economic development by promoting the area’s businesses, attractions, and character to residents and visitors.
The increased visibility and traffic to the community can improve business conditions and allow residents to take advantage of growing economic opportunities and investment in their neighborhood.
StayLocal has been hard at work putting together the Central City Neighborhood Guide. Every week it seems you hear about a new project in Central City. Our Guide is a way to let the community and the city know about the neighborhood’s development and also pay tribute to the businesses that are long-time staples of the community.
Over the past few weeks Mark, the Project Manager, and I have gone door to door to the locally owned businesses in Central City. We just moved our office to the old Myrtle Banks School on OC Haley, so we were particularly excited to do outreach to meet our neighborhood businesses (and scout out some lunch spots).
Outreach went extremely well and most business owners were excited about the project. In the end, over 45 local businesses and organizations in Central City signed up to be on the Guide and we secured sponsorships from the Oretha Castle Haley Merchants Association, Good Work Network, and Tulane Center for Public Service. We also received in-kind support from Tulane City Center, Tulane University’s American Marketing Association, and On the Boulevard magazine and New Orleans Magazine.
The Central City Neighborhood Guide is produced in coordination with the community to ensure the genuine character of the neighborhood is represented. StayLocal has partnered with Tulane University’s American Marketing Association (TUAMA) and Central City Renaissance Alliance (CCRA) to poll residents about how they want their neighborhood to be portrayed. TUAMA also held an outreach day in Central City to select the content for the “Points of Interest,” “Walking Tour,” and “5 Great Things to Do in Central City” sections of the Guide. By crowdfunding this content directly from the community, we allow residents to define their neighborhood and craft their community identity.
The finished Central City Neighborhood Guide will reach it’s target audience of residents and tourists through a distribution plan crafted in close coordination with the featured businesses, the Guide’s funders, as well as strategic community partners. In the past, we have distributed our Guides in the stores of our member businesses across town, in community centers and coffee shops, in the inset of New Orleans Magazine and On the Boulevard Magazine (Spring 2015), as well as in the grocery bags of shoppers at Rouses locations across town. We create a unique distribution plan for each neighborhood based on input from businesses to ensure the Guides have the desired effect the neighborhood wants.
We are currently finalizing the Guide’s design and are set to print in the upcoming week. To measure the performance of the Central City Guide, StayLocal staff and student volunteers from TUAMA will perform a before and after survey of the listed businesses to assess the Guide’s impact from the businesses’ perspective.
In order to capture the effectiveness of the Guide on influencing the users behavior, a portion of the Guides will include an insert prompting recipients to complete brief online survey that measures their experience with the Guide. To encourage people to take the survey, those who complete the survey will be entered in a raffle to win a free lunch at Central City’s own Café Reconcile.
Finally, we plan to present the guide to the neighborhood at a launch party at the New Orleans Jazz Market in mid-April.
We are very excited about this project and cannot wait to see the results!