Ogden Downtown Alliance

Ogden Downtown Alliance

We are currently working to keep local businesses and the community informed about COVID-19. Business resources Can be found on our Business Resource COVID-19 page. Community information can be found at our Community Resource COVID-19 page. Information is being updated as it becomes available. 

The Ogden Downtown Alliance is committed to increasing economic vitality and community vibrancy throughout Ogden’s Central Business District. We support local commerce through place making, destination marketing, focused community programming and events. We create and promote a dynamic epicenter for arts, entertainment and cultural experiences in Ogden’s downtown.

Even though 2020 was dominated by covid, a lot of background work was happening to keep moving things forward.⁠

In 2019, ODA was involved in preparing an RFP with Ogden City to contract the design and delivery of a new arts plaza in the Nine Rails Creative District. Part of this process was in working to establish a pathway for emerging and other local designers to place competitive bids to ensure that the District is true to its roots while still expanding in audience and attracting new artists and creatives to the area.⁠

Through this process a partnership of Sasaki Design, Union Creative and Io Landscape Architects has been awarded the design contract. Take a look at the latest renderings for the new plaza, recently shared by @Make_Ogden. ⁠

Additionally, ODA procured grant funds to host programs in 2020 that would add to placemaking and neighborhood connectivity for the Nine Rails Creative District. Unfortunately covid pressed pause on several of those plans but we were able to do a pop up mural program in Lester Park and we have those grant funds available for fiscal year 2021 to do more good in the neighborhood!⁠

Another program we worked on in the background was parking, lighting and overall management of the Electric Alley parking lots. Not nearly as fun and exciting as the art programs but necessary all the same.

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Another reason that art is so important in the downtown and throughout the community is that it gives people a chance to see themselves in the community, to feel acknowledged and included. Art is in fact one of the most important spaces where we are able to address inclusivity and diversity.⁠

With this in mind, and not being able to host performances or exhibits in the usual ways, we launched a brand new project called These Are Your Stories. Through a call for art to our local community, we collected stories, poems, digital art and mural works that were all assembled into a twenty-page magazine and five murals throughout the downtown. A copy of the magazine was delivered to every address in the city, regardless of status.⁠

In this way, we wanted residents to have art meet them where they were – namely, at home. And we wanted them to have an opportunity to once again see themselves as a part of the community, to not feel so alone and experience a renewed sense of connection to the downtown. The magazine also included indicators for each story that inspired a mural and where to find that mural, thus providing a soft invite to return to the downtown following the more strict quarantine timeline.⁠

This magazine is available in a digital format as well, ogdendowntown.com/together⁠

This was possible with funding from Weber County RAMP and a covid allowance for projects to shift with the community needs and possibilities. Thank you

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We value paid artistry in the Downtown and throughout the year we offer myriad paid opportunities for performers to share their talents with the local community. In 2019, we hired more than 300 musicians for Farmers Market alone. As the updated health guidelines began eliminating events and gatherings, live performances were also held at bay. We knew that though there were many relief packages in the works or being deployed, none of them were covering the lost wages of cancelled performances.⁠

We immediately began shifting our production plans to “recreate” the live music experience within the health guidelines by recording local musicians, live in studio, and broadcasting these performances as a new virtual concert experience called “Fridays Live.” While this is by no means a replacement for the experience of live, in person performances, it did give us the opportunity to hire and pay local musicians and performers from a wide variety of backgrounds and to continue offering these experiences to our local community.⁠

For whatever reason, when live music was paired with a sit down restaurant, the health guidelines were different. We were able to continue, as originally planned, the Music on the Plaza series Wednesday nights in the Junction. The restaurants appreciated the additional dining traffic brought by the series and diners appreciated the “sense of normalcy” of enjoying live music on an outdoor patio.⁠

As Music on the Plaza and then Friday's Live seasons were coming to a close, Ogden City reached out for ways we could take those same concepts and create something for Christmas Village. This partnered approach resulted in six digital concerts featuring local artists performing holiday classics, "Santa's Playlist" which was broadcast at Christmas Village and provided to several local businesses to showcase as well.⁠

Through all of this we were able to continue offering paid performance opportunities and because of all the covid-shifting, we were able to offer artists quality studio recording and videography which they will be able to use in advancing their portfolios and careers.⁠

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While it's not the first thing that happened in 2020, it sure feels like the biggest and most consistent: communication around Covid-19⁠

Early on in the pandemic we created two landing pages on our website, OgdenDowntown.com. One was for business owners and had information on new guidelines, funding opportunities and other training while the second page was geared toward the community in understanding new regulations and personal resources.⁠

Well before and beyond Covid, our goal is to keep businesses connected and to keep the general public informed of upcoming events, promotions, and more. If you're a business owner and want to receive our email newsletter please send us a DM with your contact info or subscribe from our site ogdendowntown.com. Our newsletter covers everything from events and how to participate, to marketing campaigns, updated and/or potential legislation and ordinance changes, tourism insights and more. ⁠

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Long post ahead. We know, we know, all of these annual report posts have been pretty lengthy! But we do a lot of things and they're worth explaining.⁠

In a typical year, ODA hosts a variety of business district meetings so we are able to hear and respond to business owner concerns and needs. We typically think of this in terms of marketing needs, business training and also infrastructure like parking and lighting. This year, “business support systems” took on a whole new level of meaning as we juggled to manage the firehose of Covid regulations and changes, business impacts and community needs – in addition to the typical needs for marketing, training and parking improvements.⁠

Rapid fire information changes necessitated the development of two landing pages on the ODA website where we could collect and share COVID information, guidelines, funding opportunities and relief programs. ⁠

Early on, ODA joined a state level program to better understand the incoming SBA provisions and get downtown business owners ready to apply. Throughout this time we also partnered with Ogden City Community and Economic Development to gauge business impacts and needs, through a survey conducted by CED and Weber County. ⁠
In direct response to a lot of the information gather around business needs, Ogden City rolled out the Ogden CARES grant program which we then helped advise businesses and nonprofits working throughout the downtown on how to apply.⁠

As it became more and more clear the level of impact to public events and what that meant for participating vendors, we also conducted an economic impact study for non-traditional non-brick and mortar vendors. This data was shared with our local municipality leaders at the city and county level and was also shared with state representatives as stimulus programs and economic aids were being developed. ⁠
ODA also sent countless email updates to business owners and either hosted or partnered on educational and other training opportunities that could support businesses throughout the changes needs and demands. ⁠


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As we mentioned in yesterday's post, 2020 was the launch of our Façade Improvement Grant program. Through funding from our own budget and a partnership with GOED and Weber State University's Small Business Development Program, we were able to open a grant up for businesses wishing to make improvements to their storefronts. Because the @Make_Ogden plan also calls for activating some of the back of house and alley way spaces, we also allowed applicants to apply for updates or upgrades to their back of house presence.⁠

In 2020 we awarded 10 grants and a total value of $31,000 towards these projects. You can see a few of them completed already, with more wrapping up early spring 2021.⁠

Take a look at the new awnings at @goodcotheatre or the patio area outside @kaffemercantile on 26th Street, or the new windows and improvements taking place as we speak in the Historic Windsor Hotel on 25th Street - these make up just a few of the businesses that received funds to bring their improvement projects to life.⁠

We'll be opening a new round of Façade Improvement Grants in April of this year, as funds become available. Follow this page for details or get on our email list for future updates by emailing info@ogdendowntown.com⁠

** Because of the state level funding the first batch of grants was available to any business in Ogden city limits, but the following funds came only from us, the Ogden Downtown Alliance and were (and will be) limited to businesses within the Downtown limits.

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Since our mission is aimed directly at increasing economic vitality and community vibrancy, one of our pillars of work is Placemaking. We use the word placemaking which aligns with our local residents and community members but it works in tandem with the concept of Destination Development, the tourism side of things. ⁠

Details matter. This past year when restaurants were forced to close and then reduce dining operations and had to rely extensively on curbside pickups, we invested in clean bright white a-frame signage to indicate curbside pickup procedures and created a landing page on our website for consumers to easily find who was open and how to order. Similarly we created a directory for local retailers with the same information and launched a large scale campaign letting people know that downtown was SAFE and OPEN for business.⁠

For this campaign, the placemaking work was in fresh photography that visually showcased the following of safety guidelines, what you could expect to experience as well as what would be expected of you. ⁠

In a typical year, this Placemaking work is much more exciting than a batch of 70 a frame signs but you shift and do what the businesses need, and what the community needs in order to support those businesses. So we did.⁠

As you'll see in the next slide though, signage and awareness weren't the only work we were up to this past year. We also launched a brand new initiative: Facade Improvement Grants

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When it comes to marketing, our 2020 budget was slashed with every event that was cancelled and we had to get even more creative with an already tight budget. We revisited our relationship with Local First Utah to re-build an Ogden Chapter and create partnered content that promoted our local businesses with reasons to shop and intentionally commit to shopping local while the whole world it seemed was shifting to Amazon. ⁠

We also created paid Instagram takeover opportunities where we gave locals cash to spend in our downtown businesses; dropping our marketing budget to instead spend those funds directly inside our local retailer locations. This provided some incredible content that was helpful keeping downtown relevant and visible as well as providing even a minor level of financial relief.⁠

These takeover campaigns along with our Ten Reasons Spend it Here campaign with Local First have been adopted by both Ogden City and Weber State University, allowing that content to be even further leveraged and support the downtown businesses. These partnerships have furthered our investment and capacity to share and promote the whole of our downtown.⁠

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It’s hard to believe that in 2018/19 we were planning the largest event we’ve ever done, the Sesquicentennial 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad brought people worldwide to the heart of Ogden and this year we were forced to cancel all but Music on the Plaza and Farmers Market.⁠

In contrast to last year’s sesquicentennial planning that had us communicating across Weber County and the state for safety in numbers, we participated in that same layered communication this year to cancel and reduce event numbers for health and public safety in light of the evolving Covid-19 concerns.⁠

Additionally we worked with city, county and state officials to create, and in some cases revise, guidelines that would allow for a stronger economic position alongside health needs and concerns. Throughout the entirety of the year, the mental health and sense of connection between our community members was a top level concern.⁠

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Even though Farmers Market summer was reduced to grocery only vendors, we kept our commitments to supporting local commerce and providing paid artist opportunities. We did this by allowing vendors that could not be with us in person, to host our social media accounts and educate consumers on online or curbside shopping options. We also launched a mini concert series on Facebook called Friday’s Live, which became a quick hit. Through that program we were able to fund more than 30 performance groups and other nonprofit organizations.⁠

The summer market was extended throughout October, for a total of seventeen weeks. Following the completion of this event Fridays Live was brought back in partnership with Ogden City and in support of Ogden’s Christmas Village. This six piece series was recorded at the Ogden Amphitheater, features local musicians singing holiday favorites and is broadcast at the social-distanced Village experience. The performances also aired on Facebook live and were made available on thumb drives for local businesses to air at their locations which were then marketed to the community as yet another way to partake in the community.⁠

We also managed to continue on with the small concert series Music on the Plaza which received much fanfare this year as people commented that a night out on the patio at places like @thesonoragrill and @newsunogdenut with live music on the air felt like a welcome sense of normalcy they wanted to hold on to.⁠

With so much still uncertain for the future of events, we also did several test concepts both with the Health Department. We also held an in-person event demo at Ogden’s Own which was a pilot of both social distanced live music and a practice run “bringing online” the West Ogden conceptualized downtown called for in the MAKE Ogden Plan.⁠

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