HQBD continues to promote growth with innovation

Posted: Jan. 28, 2013 1:25 pm Updated: Feb. 18, 2013 2:15 pm

THE HISTORIC Quincy Business District unveiled its latest innovation last week, one that officials feel will expand the sales potential of member businesses. -- called the nation's first downtown cooperative e-commerce site -- was created through a partnership between the HQBD, the Great River Economic Development Foundationn and Rokusek Design. It joins an HQBD smartphone app made available a year ago as a valuable communications tool for the district as it expands its business footprint in an ever-changing retail climate.

HQBD Executive Director Travis Brown explained during the organization's annual meeting that the technology will allow downtown Quincy businesses to capitalize on the growing online shopping market and enable them to better compete in a national marketplace that otherwise would be cost-prohibitive.

The e-commerce site will allow customers across the country to view sales specials and buy products from downtown Quincy businesses and have them shipped directly to them. Brown said the online store will cost member businesses a fraction of what it would be for a traditional e-commerce site.

This proactive approach is not new to HQBD. It is part of the district's standard operating procedure.

Since 1994, there have been 259 building or rehabilitation projects in the district, representing a private sector investment of more than $162 million. The city of Quincy also has spent $9.3 million during that time on a series of improvements, including the Maine Street streetscape project.

It was in the early 1990s that Quincy City Hall moved to Eighth and Maine, the Oakley-Lindsay Center also opened in the heart of the HQBD, increasing foot traffic and building momentum for downtown revitalization. With the addition of more residential units, the district is flourishing.

There was a net growth of 15 businesses in the district in 2012, increasing the overall number to 583. That has helped boost the occupancy rate to 94 percent. A concentrated, door-to-door campaign last year resulted in a 37 percent increase in traditional HQBD memberships, meaning an additional $5,000 in revenue for the organization.

The HQBD is in the initial stages of creating a 501c3 organization to be eligible for grant funding and to provide greater financial security for an organization that has previously relied largely on a special taxing district and membership fees.

The Historic Quincy Business District has defied the national trend by growing the number of shops, offices, restaurants, entertainment venues and residential units within a downtown business district. Growth on such a scale would be impressive at any time, but it is even more so during a challenging economic climate.

Vision and action have been the guiding principles for HQBD's board and staff. Quincy area shoppers have been partners in this growth by patronizing downtown businesses.

That's a solid formula for success.