Almost three months into the Michigan Avenue construction project in Saline, the marketing campaign “Pave It Forward” continues to draw people downtown to support the local businesses during the roadwork.
“A lot of people are coming in and saying I am specifically coming down to support the business because I want them to be there when its done, so I feel like the program is doing what it was intended to do,” said John Olsen, the executive director at the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce. “So that’s a positive.”
“Pave It Forward,” which is sponsored by Saline Main Street and the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, kicked off in April at the start of the Michigan Avenue project to support the local businesses impacted by the construction, aiming to let the community know the shops are open during the roadwork.
“We are actively promoting this in the community,” said Riley Hollenbaugh, the executive director at Saline Main Street. “We are actively trying to get people to come downtown and support their local businesses at this time.”
Social media has played a vital role in connecting with the community about the marketing campaign. “Social media has been a big part of it, trying to get that information out to them. We’ve received a lot of positive comments about it,” Hollenbaugh said. “It’s been great to hear in the community, people reminded that ‘hey, this is a pain for people coming in and driving, but imagine owning a business in the middle of all this construction work.’ That reminder is bringing people down at this point.”
The marketing campaign has two major features: a raffle and a program called “Meet Me In Saline.” For the raffle, shoppers are rewarded with a raffle ticket for every $10 they spend in participating downtown businesses. So far, more than 8,000 tickets have been issued. “The Pave It Forward raffle has been a big part of this campaign,” Hollenbaugh said.
The first monthly drawings for $250 were awarded in June and July, with monthly drawings continuing through November. A grand prize drawing of $1000 will then be held in December. “A lot of the service industries are taking advantage of this. At the same time these service industries are participating in this, they are also promoting other businesses in the community, which is great,” Hollenbaugh added. “A lot of people are trying different places they haven’t tried in that sense.”
“Meet Me In Saline” aims to connect the personal stories of the small businesses with the community at large through newsletters and social media. The program intends to actively introduce the business owners to the community, said Hollenbaugh, who added “Meet Me In Saline” will kick off soon and feature Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack and the Pineapple House as some of the first businesses featured.
Further, as the construction nears a midpoint to completion, “Pave It Forward” will also bring people together for a celebration in late August. A final celebration and ribbon cutting will then be held at the conclusion of the road project.
“This is a great initiative. It’s absolutely critical that our citizens and all those members of the community continue to patronize our downtown businesses who are most effected by the construction project,” Saline Mayor Brian Marl said. “We’ve got some great business downtown that are special and unique to our community, and we want them to be there when the dust settles. I would encourage all my fellow citizens to continue to patronize our businesses downtown.”