CIVIC LAB YEAR TWO GRADUATION MARKS NEW PHASE FOR PROJECTS
Over the past 9 months, City staff and community members have been participating in the second year of an experimental grant program facilitated by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) called Civic Lab. The program aims to have cities focus on a single commercial corridor and develop innovative program ideas to deal with their unique challenges.
The Isleton team focused on our Main Street. Through local meetings with community members including Main Street residents, property owners, and business leaders as well as regional meetings with over a dozen other participating cities and SACOG staff, our Civic Lab team thought through a variety of solutions to help overcome challenges to Main Street’s economic development. The specific challenges to the development of Main Street were found to be the lack of residential base to support full occupancy of main street storefronts which were built at time when Isleton’s populations was over double what it is now, geographic isolation from other metropolitan areas, and the lack of adequate regular tourist traffic to support more than a handful of permanent businesses.
What Isleton’s Main Street doesn’t lack, especially in comparison to other participating Civic Lab commercial corridors, is character and history. The Isleton team’s vision was to work with what assets we have to overcome limitations to permanent retail occupancy. With this in mind the team came up with the idea to facilitate a Community and Economic Development Grant Program that would sub-grant funds to help subsidize or rebate one of two things: 1.) Façade or general building improvements to help overcome obstacles to retail occupancy, attract investment, and add to the historic and aesthetic character of Main Street; and 2.) community events and temporary retail pop-ups to help fill vacant storefronts while building the organic support for more permanent businesses as well as attracting new and more regular visitors to Main Street.
This sub-granting program aims to incentivize property owners to activate their buildings as well as provide community members with big ideas for events the support to actualize them. On October 31st, our Civic Lab team attended a “graduation” and gave a presentation on ideas to the SACOG Board of Directors. Though this year of Civic Lab participation is over, the work is far from over. Civic Lab Year Three will focus on finding grant funds and implementing our program ideas. In the meantime, community members have already taken upon themselves to implement some the ideas inspired by Civic Lab. On October 12, Irma Mora in conjunction with the Isleton Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce hosted a pop-up retail and sidewalk activation event for a visiting walking group to great success.
City Staff would like to recognize and thank the participation of the active Isleton team members; including Irma Mora, Clay Bodenhamer, Councilmember Robert Jankovitz, Kailani Haro, Commissioner Michelle Burke, Jean Yokotobi, Mark Yandow and Zhana Smith.
Written by: James Gates. Assistant Planner
Congratulations Team Isleton
Irma Mora, Clay Bodenhamer, James Gates and Robert Jankovitz
If you would like to join the Isleton Civic Lab 2 Team, please contact Diana O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916-777-7771