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Annual Report 2020

The Business Loop Community Improvement District is pleased to present our 2020 Annual Report. Our mission is to improve the environment and the economy of The Loop and we've made significant progress in both of those areas with our Loop Corridor Plan and our Small-Scale Manufacturing Plan.

It goes without saying that this was not the year we anticipated. The year started off with some great projects--a shared commercial kitchen, a test garden of Missouri natives, new banners, and another national grant to support makers, creators, and producers. 

COVID-19 forced us to pause a number of projects and refocus our efforts on business support and recovery. We’ve educated our businesses on funding opportunities, city ordinances designed to keep the public safe, and on ways to pivot to online sales and non-contact activities. We also shifted resources away from some projects and devoted them to marketing and other customer outreach to support Loop businesses. We were the first to put a running list of open or modified businesses on our website and we backed that up with advertising dollars to get the message out. We even redesigned our website to better highlight our businesses.

The true heroes though are the business owners and employees who are doing everything in their power to remain open and serving the public. We will continue to do our best to support their efforts.

Achievements

  • Designed, purchased, and installed branded banners along the entire length of the CID, adding a needed shot of color and showing customers a united Business Loop community. 
  • Added branded signage to our Community Pop-Up park as a way to welcome the public to use the new space. This spring we also replanted flowers, tomatoes, and peppers at both the park and the Bike Repair Station at Parkade Plaza.
  • Teamed up with the students at Hickman High School to plant a native garden at the corner of Providence and Business Loop. This garden of hardy Missouri native plants will serve as a test for future landscaping options. 
  • Were one of only 5 cities to be named an Etsy Maker City, in partnership with Jabberwocky Studios. We’re working together to support local makers as a way to eventually bring these new businesses to the street.
  • Despite the COVID-19 related shut down, we’ve made substantial progress on a shared commercial kitchen at Mizzou North in partnership with REDI. The ultimate goal is to encourage the growth of local food entrepreneurs by reducing barriers and creating opportunities for those without easy access to a certified kitchen.
  • Launched a newly redesigned website complete with updated business listings to better highlight all our local shops, restaurants, service providers, and schools.

The Maker City

The Loop CID and Jabberwocky Studios received one of five national Maker City grants from Etsy and the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth. 

This grant will help us build a community of diverse local makers and use that energy to revitalize The Loop in a way that builds on the existing vibe of the street. The Loop is already a collection of fixers, builders, and makers and by identifying and supporting these up-and-coming small manufacturers, we can expand our local economy while remaining true to the character of the area.

Support for Local Makers

By identifying and supporting a diverse collection of small manufacturers, food producers, and makers, we can begin to grow our own local businesses. Maker meetups, workshops, and other activities are helping us form a local hub for these creators. Workshops on social media, packaging and shipping, and maintaining an online store are helpful to both makers and Loop businesses. 

Shared Workspaces

Small startups can’t always afford their own space so we’re turning to shared spaces. We’re building a commercial kitchen at Mizzou North in partnership with REDI as a way to provide accessible, inclusive, and affordable kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses. MACC is building a shared makerspace at Parkade Plaza with 3D printing, woodworking, industrial sewing machines, a long-arm quilter, and more. We plan to support the small businesses being incubated in these spaces and, as they grow, find a place for them on The Loop.

Pop-up Retail

We’ve already hosted two Maker Faires at the Community Pop-Up Park with great success. Although COVID-19 lead us to delay all events, our eventual goal is to continue this bi-yearly event and host smaller pop-up retail events at the shared spaces to highlight the goods being produced on site. 

Branding

Small makers don’t always have the time or funds for marketing so the grant is allowing us to create a joint brand that all makers can use for labeling, social media posts, and other messaging. By combining many smaller businesses under a larger brand, we can help promote The Loop and Columbia as a place for makers.

Marketing and Advertising

In addition the shared brand, the grant will allow us to develop a maker website and directory, an advertising campaign, and a promotional video showing our makers in action. With these projects, we’ll not only promote these growing businesses but we’ll solidify The Loop as the place where makers, producers, and other creatives can find a home.

Due to COVID-19, some of the key elements of the plan have been postponed and the timeline of the grant has been extended. However, our joint commitment to this project and the related economic development activities remain strong. The complete Small-Scale Manufacturing plan is available at www.theloopcomo.com/make.

Metrics + Benchmarking

  • Property assessments ticked up 3% this year and our assessment rate remained at .4478 per $100 of assessed valuations. 
  • Public improvements outlined in the Loop Corridor Plan will give property owners additional confidence in the future of the area and will help spur additional private investment.
  • Sales declined by 3%, expected given local trends. However, core businesses on the street remain strong. The timeframe for this data is prior to COVID-19 so we continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on sales.
  • Long-term impacts of COVID-19 are unknown so we are anticipating reduced revenues. As such, we are postponing major corridor projects and instead shifting our funds and resources to increased marketing, advertising, business support, and other projects to keep the economy of The Loop as strong as possible.
  • Our small-scale manufacturing plan is a comprehensive, multi-year effort to attract and support new businesses. It also shows our understanding of the nationwide changes impacting traditional retail models, both anticipated changes and COVID-related ones.
  • This plan will also help increase smart development along the corridor, leading to fewer unused lots and more active, vibrant spaces—as well as new businesses that support our current retail and commercial niche.
  • The Loop generated over $1.2 million in city sales tax, demonstrating that The Loop is a key economic generator for Columbia.

FY 2021 Budget

Due the coronavirus pandemic, we are estimating sales tax revenues at 85% of the average of our past three years. Thus, we have budgeted for $268,563 in sales tax. Property assessments have already been collected and we are budgeting $65,204. In addition, we are anticipating a fund balance draw down of $40,000 in anticipation of expenditures.

Due to the crisis, we are putting larger corridor projects on hold until we have a better sense of revenues and instead will focus on advertising, marketing, business recovery, and other economic development projects designed to support our businesses in this unprecedented time. We have budgeted for a surplus of $74,841, and are holding those funds in anticipation of future improvement projects once the crisis has passed. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 crisis, our revenues, and our needs throughout FY2021.

For the full FY2020 Budget and supporting documents, visit our Minutes + Financials page

On behalf of the entire board I want to thank everyone for their support, their input, and their commitment to making The Loop a vital and innovative corridor.

Our entire 2020 Annual Report is available for download. We also have hard copies available in our office at 601 Business Loop 70 West, #128 and if you'd like some for your business, just let us know.

The Loop
601 Business Loop 70 W#128
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 443-LOOP
[email protected]

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