By Frank Besse
Do you have a great idea for a new business in Jamestown? A bookstore? A spice emporium? A zip line across the Chadakoin River?
Consider unleashing your idea this fall at the Pearl City Small Business Pitch Fest, a new event from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation that will feature presentations by local entrepreneurs looking to launch or expand their businesses. The goal is to give these brave souls the opportunity to share their vision with key members of the business community and the general public. This exchange of ideas is a way to foster the relationship-building essential to the success of a business.
This initiative, modeled after successful efforts elsewhere, is part of a new phase in JRC’s promotion of development in Jamestown. Those efforts began in 2008 with partnerships between JRC, the city, and downtown property owners to restore the faded exteriors of numerous downtown buildings and boost the appearance of targeted alleys. To date, 36 façade improvement projects have been completed or are currently underway. In many cases, these improvements have helped turn old buildings from apparent liabilities into real assets – beautiful examples of how to blend artistic expression and commerce.
Once these exterior improvements were underway, efforts began to help fill the interior spaces with new apartments and businesses. The JRC has worked with a variety of downtown property owners and business owners to increase the number of residential units and the number of businesses operating within the urban core. The ten new apartments in the Willow Bay Commerce Center that began filling up earlier this year are a good example of this work, as is the Sprinkle Cone, the new ice cream shop at 207 Pine Street. That business is located in a building whose façade was refurbished three years ago.
Now that activity is on the rise, the JRC is focusing even more of its attention on filling vacant spaces and on empowering the business and community leaders of tomorrow who have ideas and passion that will fill the city new enterprise and activity for years to come. After all, a renaissance isn’t a renaissance if all you have are good looking buildings with darkened windows.
To that end, the Pearl City Small Business Pitch Fest is a way for anyone with an interest in opening, expanding, or supporting small businesses to get together and network with like-minded people. Cities work because proximity enables commerce and the kinds of person-to-person connections needed to get new and complex ventures off the ground.
The Pitch Fest is also a way for the JRC to identify people with promising ideas that might be good fits for downtown retail space, the farmers market, neighborhood commercial areas, or industrial lofts.
The JRC is looking to connect with entrepreneurs, investors, customers, suppliers; in short, anyone who thinks they may have a role in continuing to push the Jamestown economy forward. A date for the first pitch fest has not been set, but will be once the JRC has enough entrepreneurs willing to participate. If you would like to learn more about this event and other JRC initiatives visit this page or contact Frank Besse at 664.2477 or frank@JamestownRenaissance.org.
Renaissance Reflections is a biweekly feature with news from the front lines of Jamestown’s revitalization. This article was originally published in the Post-Journal on August 18th, 2014.