A well known expert in business development and marketing says a revitalized downtown Belleville is set to boom in future years.
Dan Taylor of Dan Taylor Global and the former head of economic development in Prince Edward County told the annual meeting of the
Belleville Downtown Business Improvement Area last night (Thursday) that the infrastructure work being done downtown has given the core
and the city as a whole a “great new lease on life”.
But Taylor says it won’t be easy. Traditional retail will remain strong in facilities such as the Quinte Mall.
However, Taylor says the opportunity for the downtown lies with small business start-ups and entrepreneurs of various kinds.
He says people are looking for new, cheaper places to live/work and the buildings in the downtown can be ideally suited to small entrepreneurs who don’t need
a lot of space.
Downtown Belleville and the Quinte area as a whole have a lot to sell to people and businesses from outside the region, such as proximity to the
economic engine of the Greater Toronto Area, a great quality of life, transportation links, and last but not least, relatively low real estate costs.
Taylor had advice for those interested in boosting the downtown. He said now is the time to come up with a vision for the core, a simple, focused one.
He says trying to be all things to all people would most certainly be “a recipe for disaster”. He pointed to the huge success seen in Prince Edward County during his
time there when it was decided to start and grow a wine industry there.
Wine and anything that had something to do with it was the sole focus of economic development efforts, and the local economy has grown by leaps and bounds.
After a vision is set, the next challenge for downtown is to develop strong, focused leadership. Someone, or group, has to push the vision, and stay on track or the efforts will fail over the long term.
Meanwhile, Chair of the Belleville Downtown Business Improvement Area, Edie Haslauer, says “think tank” sessions are already underway and will continue as business and property owners in the downtown, along with city representatives, work to come up with a clear vision and marketing focus for the revitalized downtown.