Awardee: Mount Vernon Downtown Association
Award: Economic Vitality
City: Mount Vernon
The Economic Vitality Award is an annual award that recognizes enhancement efforts that have improved the economic vitality of the district including job creation and retention, sales growth, and more. The Mount Vernon Downtown Association received the 2023 Economic Vitality Award in recognition of their work creating the Lido Collective retail space downtown to support local artists.
With the Tulip Festival Street Fair as their longstanding signature event and a five-year strategy centered around the arts, the Mount Vernon Downtown Association (MVDA) has close connections to the region’s artist community. They were acutely aware of how this economic sector was impacted by the pandemic and how dependent on seasonal events creative entrepreneurs are in the region. The MVDA believed they could serve both their arts entrepreneurs and their downtown retail environment by offering a brick-and-mortar outlet to expand artists’ revenue opportunities. When a prime retail space opened, MVDA executive director Ellen Gamson moved quickly, pitching the idea to her board, applying for a Nonprofit Community Recovery Grant, hastily persuading the building owner to support the idea.
After remodeling the space using grant funds and their own revenue, as well as key contributions from donors and volunteers, the MVDA opened the Lido Collective for business in April 2022, with 47 local artists’ works available for sale. Their consignment model enables artists to keep 60% of their sales, pay no fees for space, and have no staffing requirements (since the MVDA staffs the retail space). After 18 months in operation, the Lido Collective has created three jobs, prompted the opening of two new businesses nearby, and led to revenue generation for 60 local artists.
The Mount Vernon Downtown Association is truly leading the way in fostering a stronger and more resilient creative economy on Main Street.