Gushing on Goshen
Downtown Goshen, Inc. Helps Local Businesses, Residents and Prospective Visitors Alike
Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
When folks want to fully embrace the vibe and the energy of a community, there is one certain way to find it. They go downtown.
Because it is far more than a place. It’s a phenomenon.
The City of Goshen represents this quite well, to the extent that there is an active movement to showcase the diversity and camaraderie that has grown within the vibrant business thoroughfares. It is known as Downtown Goshen, Inc. (DGI).
DGI originated in 2006 as a revitalization endeavor, stemming from the expertise and talents from several existing committees of the time. The organization offers a range of initiatives and incentives for both existing and new businesses, and creates a network of communication that fosters encouragement and enthusiasm for retailers and entrepreneurs.
Among the ways that DGI achieves those goals is through sponsorships of special events, hosting various workshops designed to attract shoppers, and grant programs for facade and building enhancements. The businesses of Goshen can reap the benefits of partnership with DGI for a modest monthly membership fee.
Amanda McMahon is one of the DGI committee members who also serves as the director of First Fridays, as well as a liaison for Eyedart Creative Studio. She assists with social media and marketing for the membership of DGI, and shares some insight on what the missions of DGI entail.
“We offer promos that generate interconnection and collaboration, opportunities to participate, and have conversations about how to entice people to visit downtown,” McMahon says. “We value business input and feedback, and we continue to work on identifying what is best for the community, and how to keep small businesses invested and motivated.”
The current president of DGI is Myron Bontrager, who is well-known around Goshen as the patriarch of the family who currently owns The Electric Brew. In his leadership role, he says one of the factors he most appreciates about belonging to DGI is the challenge of “trying to find what we’re good at, and then focus on the opportunities that flow from that.” A self-professed champion of historic causes, Bontrager is excited about one of the group’s newest programs, which focuses on matching grants for building facades, many of which have adorned the downtown sectors for generations.
The businesses that enter into consideration for the program must follow a set of criteria, which assures historic or architectural integrity. Matching grant funding could then be used to cover the full facade, or integral parts such as awnings, windows or cleanings.
“We drew inspiration from what other communities were doing with their downtown businesses,” Bontrager notes. “We felt that this was a way to help business owners to bring people to downtown in a creative way, while increasing awareness and engagement.”
The DGI website has proven to be an invaluable resource to prospective visitors, residents and retailers by offering information on how to apply for the historic beautification grants, a calendar of special sales promotions and events, and a business directory for ease of shopping. There is also abundant information on how to participate, volunteer or secure a spot on the mailing list.
To obtain more details and stay apprised of downtown Goshen’s happenings, visit downtowngoshen.org.