When Mindy Aisling moved to Bend, Oregon she knew that she wanted to be a part of helping the Bend community grow and develop. From day one, she began volunteering and attending meetings to learn about, and give back to, the new community in which she was establishing herself. Now, 5 years later, as the Executive Director of the Downtown Bend Business Association (known as the DBBA or the Downtowners) she is ardently pursuing her passion to leave things better then she found them, and to expand and develop the historic core of the city that is Downtown Bend.
Working closely with building and business owners within the Economic Improvement District (EID), and the DBBA board of directors, Aisling quickly transformed the organization.
"I quickly realized that the DBBA needed to grow and change just like our city was growing and changing," says Aisling with a chuckle, "It wouldn't suffice for us to just to continue to sweep sidewalks and put up banners - we had to build the vision for Downtown's growth, advocate for it, and find a way to pay for it."
Upon being named Executive Director, one of Aisling's first orders of business was to develop a closer relationship with the City of Bend and City Council. She realized that much of their work was interconnected, and that both organizations could increase there efficiency and effectiveness by working together. In addition, it was important to gain a greater understanding of where the City of Bend was in regards to growth development and budget, and where Downtown Bend's development fit into that scope.
"Most people don't realize that it is the DBBA that funds daily cleaning, flower baskets, holiday decorating, web development, marketing, and more in Downtown Bend." says Aisling, "We are the organization that creates the look and feel of Downtown as you know it, and we are the backbone of downtown development. As such, we need to find a way to fund necessary Downtown growth."
In 2018, Aisling directed the most profitable Bend Oktoberfest fundraiser to date, and in 2019, Aisling added additional fundraisers, like the Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl, to help the DBBA meet their goals. Because of these fundraising efforts, the DBBA was able to purchase and install 4 Downtown Directory Kiosks. These kiosks will serve to help drive more traffic into Downtown businesses as well as create an additional stream of revenue for the DBBA.
Each kiosk guides the user to an online directory where that user can see a list of downtown businesses, go to each businesses website, or open a GPS map on their smartphone to that businesses location. In addition, the new directory kiosks provide a map of the entire EID, downtown parking locations, and for businesses that desire extra exposure, there is an opportunity to be listed in print on the map with a marker to their corresponding location. Each kiosk also features 4 ads spaces on each side. These ad spaces are open to any business in the Bend community, as long as that businesses doesn't compete directly with a current business in the EID. Ad rates are on the low end for print and display advertising, starting at (for the intro special) only $2.50 per square inch of full-color advertising space.
These kiosks are intended to grow and develop with Downtown Bend. The DBBA will be changing out the inserts every three to six months so that downtown developments and seasonal photos can be updated.
"We are excited to include downtown developments as they happen." says Aisling, "For example, we'll be able to show the new EV Charging stations on the directories as soon as they are installed."
The DBBA is a small nonprofit dedicated to the vitality of Downtown Bend. They are funded through the EID, advertising programs, and fundraising. The new directory kiosks could be the 'seed of change' for future downtown developments. Developing programs that can continue to feed the organization is key to meeting Downtown's needs as our city grows.