Lee’s Summit’s downtown business core seemingly has endless rallying points.
Small local businesses, live music, a burgeoning food scene, arts, craft beer, retail, location and the family friendly, event-oriented environment among them.
But it also has something else: one helluva reach when it comes to social media, particularly on Facebook.
So, when a national organization, Independent We Stand, announced it would be giving one downtown a $25,000 grand prize, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street sprang into action – mainly using the power of social media (coupled with the knowledge of using IP addresses) to push for friends, fans, family and anyone familiar with our downtown to elevate Lee’s Summit from one of the 242 nominees into the Top 25 quarter-finalists.
Sometimes accompanied by an apology from its executive director, Donnie Rodgers, a daily plea would be sent out on Facebook for friends and fans of downtown Lee’s Summit to click the button and “vote” for DLSMS in this contest.
But, as proven time and again with social media, the real power was in the circles of influence that came from the massive reach of the organization’s page. Sharing across many social media platforms created a buzz that ended last week and culminated this week with the announcement that Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street had made the Top 25.
It joins a list of 24 other downtowns across the country that you most likely will have to pull up Google Maps in order to find their precise location, a nod to the power these lesser-known communities also have across social media platforms.
Have you been to Ellicott City or Berlin, Md.? Nope. Didn’t think so. What about Hayward, Wisc., Medina, Ohio or Brookhaven, Miss.?
As a fan of traveling to downtown areas, I see this list and wonder just what I am missing by not having traveled to the Downtown Plano Arts District in Plano, Texas or Destination Downtown Lancaster in Lancaster, Ohio.
Now, they are on my list of places to see.
And, I bet, they are wondering the same thing about Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.
If we shout it loud enough, we can tell them that we are a former Great American Main Street Award winner. We can proudly boast of more than 150 businesses and near-capacity occupancy. We should inform them of a food, drink and nightlife scene that has grown from around a dozen bars and restaurants to 18 – including two that are making their own craft beer.
And we can most certainly talk about what is on the horizon — specifically a new outdoor performance space that is in the early planning stages, and the Community Improvement District penny tax that has generated well over a half-million dollars in less than two years. That’s a crystal-clear indication that consumers are opening their wallets all over downtown Lee’s Summit.
The next two rounds of voting will be intense, for sure. It will put the marketing, creativity and imagination of each of the 25 downtowns to the test.
Voting on this round ends May 28 and the list narrows to 10 on May 29. The winner is announced June 5.
We all have an event, store, restaurant, pub or business we consistently promote, attend and support in downtown Lee’s Summit. The collective efforts of everyone that has an emotional tie to our district will help not only elevate us in this national contest, but will continue to show our elected officials why the city’s investment in Main Street is vital and how this geographically small downtown can still bring national attention to all 65-square miles of Lee’s Summit.
Visit http://www.mainstreetcontest.com/profile.php?id=12 to vote for Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.