Part II of an Exploratory Study to Establish a Special Improvement
District on Springfield and South Orange Avenues, Newark, NJ

Report to the Corinthian Housing Development Corporation and New Community Corporation

May 11, 1998

Phase II: Formalizing a Merchant Organization and Developing a Plan

As community leaders have now been identified, the sponsoring organization can start the transition from a leadership to a support role. The process of true ownership by the business community can begin.

Establishing Identity

It is important at this stage of revitalization to begin to establish a neighborhood and organization identity. With tools like a name and a logo, local residents and businesses start to associate the organization with it projects and activities. It is also important that local government, business and community leaders recognize the efforts of a formal organization. These institutions are more likely to offer their support and their resources to an organization with an established record of initiative, hard work, and success.

Establishing Group Goals and Priorities

Ultimately, organizations dedicated to neighborhood commercial revitalization seek to increase the "bottom line" for neighborhood businesses. However, it is the responsibility of the individual organization to enlist both its members and its community in establishing specific goals and priorities.

Seeking neighborhood input is important for two reasons. First, the information obtained can be invaluable in assessing individual needs and perceptions. Second, community members who feel that they have been given a voice in planning are likely to take a greater stake and role in revitalization efforts. Input in the goal-setting process can be gathered via informal conversations with local merchants, surveys, open planning meetings, or any combination of these. Once an organization has established its goals and priorities, it can begin to plan the efforts needed to meet those goals.

Planning Initial Projects and Activities

The new organization can begin to plan small, structured projects which seek to promote the neighborhood and introduce the organization and its future activities. These projects show fellow merchants what can be achieved with commitment and energy and may inspire their own involvement. For example:

Funding or support for these activities may be solicited from the local, state, and federal revitalization resources discussed in later sections of this report.

Moving to a New Level of Organization

A group that has successfully created neighborhood identity and motivated its merchant and owner population to recognize its stake in revitalization may wish to establish a new level of organization. In the next section, we look specifically at the Special Improvement District strategy. However, these first two phases of organization will be essential when implementing any of the revitalization strategies discussed in later sections of this report.

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