May 28th, 2024

Amies in new role heading up Downtown BRZ

By Al Beeber on November 4, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - Sarah Amies is the new Community Director of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone.


Sarah Amies knows the community well. She’s lived in Lethbridge since 1982 and spent two decades in the non-profit sector.
Now Amies has taken on the role of Community Director for the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone.
“I’ve arrived at a very exciting time,” said Amies Wednesday in an interview at the Downtown BRZ headquarters on 6 St. S. overlooking what will soon be Festival Square.
Amies has several key areas she will be focusing upon in her role with BRZ.
“My emphasis as the community director is to engage the downtown membership. Anybody who is within our 27-block radius pays an automatic levy which then funds us to run the downtown.
“The other piece to the organization is a connection or partnership with Economic Development Lethbridge and within that partnership, what we are going to do is really firm up processes, policies and procedures. We’re going to work on a strat (strategy) plan together.
The BRZ has identified several areas it wants to work on, including a policy manual, Amies said.
“We need a policy manual, we need to go through all the policies, some of which are quite old and just update and make this a more cohesive organization for the folks who work within it.
“Our policy manuals are wonderful to be able to go back to should there be an issue or a problem. We also need to create an annual report so we’re looking at a template that we can develop that we can use going on,” Amies said.
“We need some scorecards, both organizational and individual, sort of key performance indicators that we can consistently record, look at and year over year, then determine where our strategy lies, what we need to improve upon, and what we’re doing well,” she said.
“The member engagement strategy is a big piece. Downtown has a lot of moving parts, we have some very exciting new businesses that have opened up but have closed as well. So with new businesses, and with that sort of movement that’s going on downtown, potentially not everybody who is a member of the downtown BRZ understands what the business revitalization zone organization can do for them.
“That’s a huge piece of member engagement strategy.”
Amies said the BRZ has a couple of programs that she calls integral and important to downtown Lethbridge. One of them is the Clean Sweep program which has people who are either court-ordered to do community service or want to get gainful employment or move into permanent housing who clean up needle debris, garbage and during the autumn, the leaves falling to the ground in downtown, she said. They are stipend-paid volunteers, said Amies.
“They go around and do a fairly unpleasant job for the rest of us,” said Amies.
The BRZ also has an active ambassador program employing a couple of high school or university students who engage membership downtown.They plug parking meters for people or show shoppers how to operate them, Amies added.
“They spread goodwill, they welcome new businesses, they do a lot of social media activity so when a new business opens up, they’re featured on our Facebook page, we Instagram about them and we basically get the public interested in what’s going on downtown,” Amies said.
The marketing communications program of the BRZ has a considerable amount going on right now, Amies added.
Black Friday will run Dec. 26.
The BRZ also has a holiday gift box program. They purchase items from businesses and put them into boxes and the public can buy them.
“Last year, Lethbridge Police Services contracted us to create a number of these gift boxes that then they could go out and provide. It’s a little bit of revenue for us” and good advertising for downtown, Amies said.
First Friday will run Dec. 3 and free parking will be available to shoppers on that day as well as on Dec. 10 and 17.
On Nov. 27, an outdoor market will be staged on 2 Avenue South where the summer farmers market is held, Amies said.
The BRZ is also excited about the opening of Festival Square, she added.
“We’re very excited about Festival Square. We are going to be quite instrumental in the booking of events,” she said adding The Heart of Our City committee and the master plan envision events being staged in Festival Square almost on a continual basis.
She said the BRZ also has, as a priority with EDL, a program review and evaluation and an assessment process to “make sure that what we are doing and what we are contracted, particularly by the City to do, is being done in the most efficient and cohesive manner that we possibly can.
“And then finally, we will be working on a five-year Strat plan to give us some direction as to where we’re going next.”

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Citi Zen

People still don’t get it… downtown is dead. Why on earth would anyone pay outrageous rates to park, than be accosted by spaced-out Neanderthals? Only to wander and look at empty, abandoned store fronts.
Let it go, it’s a hopeless cause. Quit throwing taxpayer money at it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Citi Zen