Your View: Guest Column - SAG focuses on making a year-round downtown

Jun. 13, 2013 @ 08:28 PM

BY TIMOTHY C. MABE

Recently, Ignite High Point brought world famous, Andres Duany of Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) to develop a master plan for the Uptowne area, Market District, Oak Hollow Mall area, and High Point University.
In his assessment of High Point, he identified our primary weakness and strength as the two large spikes created by the High Point Market each April and October.  He frankly explained how these spikes are at the same time beneficial to our economy while hindering development of retail and amenities necessary for the revitalization of the main street corridor. His solution was succinct. We must focus on making High Point a year-round destination by attracting a critical mass of consumers.  Or, the master plan will fail.
To find a workable solution, The High Point Partners and High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau partnered to hire Strategic Advisory Group (SAG). The SAG approach is different from DPZ but is totally complimentary.  To bring consumers year-round to support the development ideas brought forth by DPZ, SAG’s focus is on actual prospective groups and their meeting requirements.  They look into possible event space needs in High Point for the next 15 years with a focus on venue viability for local civic activities as well as the prospective trade and consumer show demands.  This is their specialty and they also are in the position to help us make contacts with major show promoters.
SAG began their work in mid-April. To date, they have conducted research and collaborated closely with Duany, and all of the DPZ team here in High Point. Their approach can be described in four parts:
1. Using the research gathered by both firms, SAG has conceived several options that have the potential to create the type of change High Point desires.
2. Currently, they are vetting each idea, carefully examining the potential challenges, and whether each passes or fails an initial test of viability. The ones that “pass” will be shared with civic officials, business leaders, etc. Essentially, this step “kicks the tires” on the potential solutions.
3. Long- and short-term possible solutions that survive will be presented to a wider target audience. It is step 2 and 3 where SAG will alter the ideas based on open dialogue and feedback.
4. SAG will then present their findings with a timeline, next steps, cost-benefits, etc.
Completion of Step 4 is anticipated by the end of July or August. The ultimate goal is to present options that all of the groups in High Point can rally behind to create an overarching strategy to implement and achieve the desired results.
You may recall that Mr. Duany warned us that there would be those persons and entities that like everything just as it is and will do what they can to resist change.
Let’s all unite to make the commitment, right here and now, to keep moving forward and to keep the flame that has ignited burning ... no matter what challenges we face.

Timothy C. Mabe is president and CEO of the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau.