A Busy Month for Economic Development
The past several weeks have been busy for Economic Development, with staff attending the City Block Part and a Denton 360 event. While the events had different audiences (family and kids vs. local citizens) both events allowed the department to share more about what is done on a day-to-day basis and connect with the community.
The City Block Party was a family-oriented event for Denton residents with games, giveaways, and demonstrations. Residents were able to speak directly with department representatives to ask questions, voice concerns, and share information.
Denton 360 is a program for Denton residents to learn more about their local government. On Oct. 5, the Economic Development staff presented to the current Denton 360 class about what the department does for the City of Denton. Participants were very involved and had many questions that Economic Development staff were able to answer. Many seemed surprised and excited that Economic Development, Denton Chamber of Commerce, and Discover Denton are housed in the same building as Development Services (planning and permits), Engineering, Capital Projects, and Community Services.
During both events, economic development staff wanted to get acquainted with the entrepreneurial sense of the Denton community. A poster was put up during the City Block Party with the prompt: “If money wasn’t a constraint, what kind of business would you start in Denton?”. People from all age groups and with various attitudes walked up to us to write down their ideas. The most recurring idea was for a downtown bodega/small grocery store, but it’s hard to characterize the diversity of proposals we received when ideas ranged from “A hobby class store” to a “Sheep Café.”
Inspired by all the great ideas received at the Block Party, staff asked the Denton 360 participants the same question. It takes someone who is passionate about the community to sign up for a class about departments within the City government, after all. Their ideas did not disappoint, and we were glad they could combine their personal experience and passion with what they think the City needs. It’s impossible to summarize the answers without leaving some great ideas out, but “Puerto Rican Restaurant,” “Photography Studio,” and “IT Consulting Firm” are good places to start as far as examples go.
Why do these ideas matter? One of the many things we learned in 2020 is that people have a strong sense of entrepreneurship and sometimes need a little push to convert that sense into a reality. The second half of 2020 had the most small-business openings in the country for any semester since the turn of the century. Two explanations come to mind. The first one is that during quarantine, people had a lot more free time, time that they could use to think about what kind of business they would open or how they were going to pursue their already existing dreams. The second one is that while stimulus checks were vital for some people to stay afloat, many people also retained their primary source of income. For these people, stimulus checks were surplus capital that could be used to start a new business. Economic Development certainly sees this entrepreneurial spirit in the day to day operations here at the City and is here to foster it. The Denton 360 and City Block Party events were strong evidence of this spirit in Denton, we hope that the survey question inspired people to think about future possibilities.
If you want to take the survey, you can do so here.
If you want to look at survey results for inspiration, click here.