Downtown Reno Partnership Year One
2018-2019 Annual Report
Table of Contents
Dear Downtown Stakeholders,
As the first business improvement district in Reno, the Downtown Reno Partnership (DRP) finished its inaugural year successfully, and we are proud to present our first Annual Report reflecting some major improvements in downtown Reno.
Thanks to your support, the DRP was officially established in July 2018. Three months later, we set up the office, hired staff and recruited and trained the first 14 ambassadors. The team made their public debut at the Veteran’s Day Parade on November 11, 2018 in uniform and fully trained. Since then, our ambassadors have made an enormous impact on the downtown environment by making it cleaner, safer and friendlier. They reported more than 500 graffiti incidents, removed more than 500 abandoned shopping carts, participated in more than 350 needle clean-ups in partnership with Northern Nevada HOPES, referred 30 individuals to long-term treatment, saved three lives by administering Narcan and CPR, and gave more than 7,000 directions to visitors. On Valentine’s Day, the Ambassadors passed out Kimmie Candy to passersby and put a smile on their faces.
The presence of the ambassadors changed the baseline for downtown Reno and lessened the “broken window” effect we have had in the core of Reno for many years. With their friendly and helpful demeanor, the ambassadors made a difference in many people’s impressions of our downtown. The Reno Police Department has noticed a change in nuisance calls thanks to the ambassadors who intervene and de-escalate situations where police are not needed.
We were able to give downtown Reno a boost through the effective use of digital media and have promoted our businesses through various articles, campaigns and through appearances on local TV and radio. We promoted Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day in downtown campaigns on the KOLO8 morning show and on local radio.
Even though we hadn’t officially started our economic development program, we secured a grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Nevada Main Street Program, which allowed us to add 12 bike racks and two vinyl wrap art installations in the downtown area and print a brochure educating businesses and stakeholders about who we are and what we do. The brochure was mailed to over 4,000 addresses in the downtown area.
With the help of OnStrategy, we developed a three-year strategic plan that will keep us focused and on the right track to continue to move the needle. We are in full swing to get the new year started and are confident it will be as successful as our first year.
As one strong community, we are shaping the future.
Alex Stettinski and Cindy Carano
The Reno City Council sparked the Downtown Reno Partnership into existence in early 2018. The board formed through the summer and Executive Director Alex Stettinski started work in September. By November 2018, Stettinski hired a professional staff and contracted Streetplus to manage hospitality ambassadors. Stettinski and the board worked to form partnerships and establish the new organization and create a community ready to bring meaningful improvements to the downtown area.
In the first fiscal year 2018-2019, the Downtown Reno Partnership focused primarily on launching a successful ambassador program, which will be explained more in this report. We hired a total of 18 ambassadors before the end of June, which includes two outreach specialists and an operations manager. The ambassadors focused on training and building partnerships with City of Reno Public Works, Reno Police and Code Enforcement, and nonprofit and service organizations that help our mission of creating safer, cleaner, friendlier streets.
The Downtown Reno Partnership also hired Marketing Manager Mike Higdon to manage our website, social media, ambassadors’ public image, public outreach, print and digital marketing and media. Higdon works to market the downtown area, too. We also hired Office Manager Tanya Polli to keep the office running, organize board meetings and town halls with the public.
In the first year, Higdon and Polli focused on establishing a working office, website, social media presence and regular meetings with constituents as well as building initial business partnerships.
Partnerships with the Partnership
The Downtown Reno Partnership’s board, staff and ambassadors spent the first year forging partnerships with downtown stakeholders, services and community organizations. Those partnerships help advance our mission of improving life in downtown Reno.
In fiscal year 2018-2019, the Downtown Reno Partnership’s $2.35 million budget covered various services, including Reno Police officers who had been patrolling the district for two decades already under city-run special assessment districts. Those special assessment districts helped fund extra police and maintenance in downtown. The Downtown Reno Partnership’s creation converted the City of Reno’s special assessment districts into one business improvement district. Doing so created a funding gap for the full cost of the police services. To close the gap, generous supporters of the partnership’s mission pledged more than $625,000 annually for the first three years to ensure those existing patrols are maintained in order to support downtown and ensure success of the Partnership and its ambassador program.
Specific partnerships with our ambassadors and marketing staff will be discussed in more detail in the related sections of this report.
In the first quarter of 2019, the Downtown Reno Partnership was awarded a Nevada Main Street Grant, through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The grant matched $35,000 in spending on:
- Informational brochures about the new business improvement district
- Window clings for supporting businesses
- Bike racks to be installed throughout the district
- Vinyl window coverings for vacant businesses
Completing these projects required the Partnership to collaborate with the City of Reno, local businesses, property owners and vendors. The Truckee Meadows Bike Alliance, for example, helped select the locations for bike racks throughout downtown while Public Works installed them. Local artists created the vinyl window coverings for the properties. Foundry created the brochures and window clings and businesses agreed to display those decals. Reno Type printed and mailed the brochures.
- Basin Street Properties
- Club Cal Neva
- Eldorado, Silver Legacy & Circus Circus
- Harrah’s Reno
- Jacobs Entertainment, Inc.
- NV Energy
- REMSA / Care Flight
- Reno Aces & Reno 1868 FC
- Reno Land, Inc.
- Renown Health
- Siri’s Casino, Jeff & Sherry Siri
- St. Mary’s Regional
- Medical Center
- Tolles Development
- University of Nevada, Reno
The first eight months for ambassadors a great success
Ambassadors have been receiving training by local agencies, law enforcement and service providers every week since the day they hit the streets. We continue to have ride-along training with the Reno Police Department (RPD) Downtown Enforcement Team and monthly meetings with Code Enforcement and Reno Direct when needed. We have received training on the proper use of Narcan, which resulted in saving two lives and becoming qualified to distribute Narcan to anyone who believes they, or someone they’re around, is at risk. In addition to this, all ambassadors are CPR and First Aid certified, which helped us to sustain a life until the ambulance arrived and took over. Reno Behavioral Health has also provided training on dealing with persons with mental illness, which builds on the Bridges Out of Poverty class attended by ambassadors. The class teaches strategies for professionals and communities to better serve our homeless population.
Ambassadors also assist in community outreach projects. One of our favorites was helping the RPD to distribute thousands of gifts to local children living in motels during the holidays. We participate in needle clean up with the Northern Nevada HOPES Clinic. We are piloting a program at Washoe County Jail where we work with inmates, most of whom come from the downtown area, on utilizing services available to them and provide guidance to getting off the streets.
Providing support for events downtown is another service we offer, with events like BBQ, Blues and Brews, Street Vibrations, and Hot August Nights to name a few.
We are also excited to educate public officials on efforts being taken and programs being piloted to improve the downtown area. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto toured the downtown area and said this of our program: “Your work is not only improving the downtown experience, but also helping the less fortunate get on their feet.”
Strong relationships with stakeholders build networks that can develop credible and united voices about services and products provided by them. Our marketing department has been working on forging mutual and beneficial relationships with stakeholders in the Downtown Reno Partnership, such as Whitney Peak, The Row, The Discovery, Reno Axe & Bar, Greater Nevada Field ballpark and so many others.
Ambassadors by the numbers
The Downtown Reno Partnership ambassadors were trained by Reno Police, Northern Nevada HOPES, The Life Change Center, Advantage CPR Instruction and toured numerous service organizations in downtown. They use this training to keep downtown safer by approaching everyone with kindness and administering CPR or Narcan in life-threatening situations. They keep downtown cleaner by alerting City of Reno Public Works and Code Enforcement to problem areas that need immediate attention. They track those interactions as they happen.
Marketing and media
Marketing and media In our first year, we wanted to establish consistent branding, digital presence, a community presence and become a resource for local businesses. We established a website, Facebook and Instagram accounts and hosted our first town hall meeting at The Basement. We worked with businesses to create original content marketing distributed through our social channels and website.
Our primary media focus was to establish the ambassadors as people making downtown Reno “Safer. Cleaner. Friendlier.” for locals and visitors. We marketed the ambassadors through a combination of earned media and hospitality training at businesses. The Downtown Reno area, ambassadors and the Partnership were mentioned 92 times in local and regional media – many of those were stories about the ambassadors’ social outreach work.
For Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, we secured KOLO8 morning show spots focused on holiday gifts available to purchase at downtown businesses. During Mother’s Day we brought two business owners onto the show. With assistance from Foundry, we launched a Summer in Downtown content campaign that extended into year two. This campaign focuses on spreading locals and visitors out to small businesses for food, drink, retail and recreation.
The ambassadors also visited local businesses for tours in order to learn more about the business’s offerings. They use that information to make better recommendations to tourists and locals seeking directions or visitor information.
We partnered with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the Riverwalk Merchants Association and local businesses to strengthen the local and visitor marketing in downtown. Those organizations also help provide support with assets and collateral that the ambassadors give to locals and visitors. The ambassadors became the on-the-ground marketing force for businesses that previously had no way to directly connect with potential customers. The ambassadors passed out more than 3,500 pieces of collateral in the first year.
By the numbers
The first year (2018-2019 fiscal year) budget was $2.35 million.
$725,000 of that paid for 14 ambassadors, their manager and equipment.
$725,000 paid for supplemental Reno Police officers in order to maintain previous police force paid for by the previous special assessment district.
$500,000 paid for the management staff, operations, marketing materials and enhanced services along Virginia Street.
$400,000 paid for the City of Reno staff who performed maintenance and cleaning throughout the district.
Cindy L. Carano
Board Chair and Executive Director of Community Relations at THE ROW
Board Vice Chair and President of Tolles Development Co.
Board Secretary and Chair of Operation Downtown Committee, Owner of Krater Consulting
Board Treasurer and Basin Street Properties
Vice President of Nevada Operations at Jacobs Entertainment
CEO of Northern Nevada HOPES Hospital
President at Reno Aces Baseball and Reno 1868 FC
Resident of the Palladio Condominium Tower
Executive Director of External Relations at University of Nevada, Reno
Property owner in downtown and Reno Planning Commissioner
Reno City Council Member
CEO of Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center
Washoe County Commissioner
Steven T. Polikalas
Attorney at law
Dickson Commercial Realtor, owner of The Depot Craft Brewery-Distillery and Louis’ Basque Corner
Downtown Reno resident at The Montage