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    Visit Downtown Detroit: How One Organization Encourages Commerce

    Recently, I was talking about Christmas plans with a friend from outside the city. He doesn’t visit Downtown Detroit often. I said we were going to go shopping, and he asked me, “Are there places to shop in Detroit?”

    It is a question those of us who live here field often from people who haven’t yet experienced our city’s renaissance. Residents take on the job of diplomats, hyping up all that’s going on (especially during the holidays). But while we generate buzz, there are organizations that are making our job easy by investing in the Downtown area, its businesses, and making sure everyone visiting has a wonderful experience.

    A Non Profit That’s Inviting People To Visit Downtown Detroit

    The Detroit Downtown Partnership (DDP) is an NPO that’s on a mission “to [support] Downtown Detroit through strategic initiatives and programs.” What this means is that they partner with local businesses, philanthropists, and governmental
    bodies to bring people to the area. They want to turn Downtown into a “vibrant and resilient urban core for Detroit and the region.”

    Their various projects fall under the umbrellas of Planning, Safety and Security, Parks and Placemaking, and the Business Improvement Zone (BIZ). With the help of their partners, they’ve done things like open up a welcome center
    that takes people on experiential tours called the Detroit Experience Factory (formerly called the D:hive).

    They’re even involved in things like the bike-sharing program (MoGo). But their biggest events of the season are by far their Annual Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Campus Martius and the Pop Up Christmas Shops all over the city. The scope of the project can be seen here!

    BIZ branding

    Branding for the BIZ in the form of decals.

    Who Are The Ambassadors?

    The Ambassadors are the people who represent the DDP. They’re the friendly individuals you might have seen downtown wearing bright green shirts. They’re trained to enhance the experiences of those eager to visit Downtown Detroit by providing information about local businesses, picking up garbage, preserving park space, and even helping people jump their cars!

    “I give people directions to where they need to go or I just say ‘hello’” is how one Ambassador described his job to me.

    As a local sign company in Downtown Detroit (and run by someone who lives Downtown), we have real passion and enthusiasm for taking care of our community too. Because of this, Detroit Sign Factory has been lucky enough to partner with DDP in a few ways.

    How Detroit Sign Factory Joined The Effort

    While we’ve printed a lot of signs and banners for local business, we’ve also completed trashcan wrap projects (which you can read more about here) to beautify our local neighborhoods and keep them tidy. Currently we are working on another trash can project for the Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) to beautify the Central Business District. The recycling cans around the city now have colorful decals. We also created graphics for both the walls and the equipment in the Block By Block Ambassadors’ Dispatch Center.

    Their dispatch center is located near Chene and E. Jefferson, and we helped them add branding, images, and functional signage to their space. In the reception/deployment area, we installed a large, customized Dry Erase Board that they use every day to deploy their teams and post weather updates and neighborhood details important for the Ambassadors. One section is a map, the other is a schedule, and the third is for announcements. Together, the panels form a professional looking triptych that the staff can write on and erase whenever they please.

    Ambassadors Visit Downtown Detroit

    We also installed a welcoming label for the wall identifying the center, and we added a beautiful photograph printed on wall vinyl at the entrance showcasing one of the Ambassadors. In their conference room we customized Dry Erase Maps of Downtown Detroit. These wall maps help the teams discuss each area of the city. This fall, the maps were the backdrop for 150 visiting members of other Block By Block organizations around the country.

    We also created branded decals for display on the sides of their street sweepers. Whenever you see someone in green riding through the downtown area, you’ll see the DDP Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) logo as they clean the roads behind them.

    Street sweepers

    As our city gains more momentum, more people will get excited to visit Downtown Detroit. Businesses are being built (like the new Meijer), a new arena has already been constructed, and more people are purchasing homes. But what’s amazing about Detroit is how many people are invested in its growth.

    Someday soon, when people make plans to do their Christmas shopping, they won’t wonder what’s waiting for them down here; they’ll already know about all the wonderful people and places that make our city special. And we will be here to greet them.

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