When discussing the revitalization of downtown Wilmington, Will Minster rattles off a laundry list of positive news about lower Market Street, of the 30 businesses that have opened in the past year and a half, and of plans to attract more business.
Minster is director of economic restructuring for Downtown Visions, a company that enhances city services in the Wilmington Downtown Business Improvement District—an area of 70 blocks that includes more than 700 properties. Perhaps best-known for its ambassadors, who do everything from picking up litter to providing escorts around downtown, Downtown Visions also works with the city and state on economic development and runs a facade program to improve the appearance of local buildings.
“Downtown Visions is more than a management company,” Minster says. “It’s all encompassing. We work with businesses on marketing. We show them how to use social media. We also recruit businesses.”
Minster says Downtown Visions, the Main Street Wilmington program and a coalition of others are developing an action plan for downtown. They are analyzing every building to determine the ideal kinds of businesses that should be recruited to fill vacant storefronts.
Marty Hageman, executive director of Downtown Visions, says Main Street is a proven method for helping retailers and increasing jobs. “The idea is to return buildings to their historically original designs,” Hageman says. “This will drive traffic and commerce to the area.”