A little bit of history: In 2008, BMS conducted a survey of Beverly residents to find out what people liked and didn’t like about downtown Beverly. We followed up the survey with some focus groups and we did street interviews with visitors to find out what they thought. More than 1000 people responded and the results were eye-opening. People described the downtown as dirty, quaint and boring. One mom said it was like her teenaged boy’s bedroom – smelly and dirty, but you knew there was something cool underneath it all. Well, no one wants to hear that their downtown is boring. We accepted the challenge to fix it!
By 2010, we had raised the money to hire a consultant to help us, and we were lucky to find Kennedy Smith of The CLUE Group. For 13 years, Kennedy had been the Executive Director of the National Main Street Center, so she understood the model and what it takes to excel at implementing it. Kennedy spent several days here and conducted focus groups with elected officials, city department heads, bankers, residents, business owners, property owners, developers and community leaders. She studied our competition, shopped in our stores and traveled our streets. She spoke about trends in downtown revitalization at a community meeting which drew more than 200 people. She recognized the many strengths of Beverly that we all love, called out our issues and recommended a clear strategy to revitalize downtown. It was enormously helpful to have both the insider view from our residents and the view from an outsider with broad experience. Kennedy’s recommendations blended the community’s desires with a proven revitalization approach. The best news was that she highlighted the ability of Beverly Main Streets to lead the work and she expressed strong confidence that we could make it happen.
Our Board of Directors and committee members then reviewed all of the input and synthesized it to focus on four goals:
1) downtown will be a regional center for arts & culture, creative industry & innovation
2) downtown will be the location of choice for retail & creative businesses
3) downtown development will recognize the unique assets of Cabot & Rantoul Streets
4) we will continually strengthen BMS to do the work of revitalization
We follow the plan and maintain a laser focus on these four goals to this day. Much of what we collectively set out to do is either now in place or in process. In 2018, we will start work on Downtown 2030!