The Downtown Milton Business Improvement Area (DMBIA) conducted a survey for members in February and March 2022. We asked members (business owners and property owners within the BIA district) to share their perspectives on key issues and opportunities for our downtown and to identify their goals and needs. The findings of the survey can help the DMBIA and other stakeholders better support the success of local businesses and contribute to a vibrant and resilient downtown.
About the respondents
A total of 73 members participated in the survey, which is approximately a third of our membership. We received responses from a wide range of member businesses and property owners. The largest segments of respondents were retail store owners (36%) and restaurant owners (27%).
DMBIA strategic priorities
Members ranked the DMBIA’s strategic priorities in order of importance to them (most important = 1, least important = 4). They ranked the priorities as follows:
- Enhanced promotion of the Downtown Milton community and its businesses (through events, marketing and promotions, etc.)
- Enhanced downtown experience for businesses and visitors through beautification efforts
- Increased focus on the attraction of new businesses to Downtown Milton.
- Enhanced advocacy with local governments on key issues affecting downtown
What members like most about the DMBIA
Members appreciate the DMBIA team’s work in promoting the downtown, sharing relevant information and updates with members, planning events, beautifying the downtown, supporting businesses and reaching out to members in person.
What members like least about the DMBIA
Members indicated that some businesses get more exposure than others and that they wanted more in-person meetings with other members. They also said that there is a lack of parking downtown and that more needs to be done to clean up litter garbage on the sidewalks and streets.
Greatest opportunities for our downtown
Members see opportunities to strengthen the downtown and capitalize on our current strengths. Hosting events downtown is one of the best ways to increase foot traffic to local businesses. Members believe that the unique historic character and welcoming atmosphere of our downtown is one of our greatest assets. They believe downtown needs a wider variety of businesses, and specifically, more retail. Marketing and exposure are an important opportunity to support the downtown and local businesses.
Most significant threats for our downtown, businesses, property owners
Members identified a lack of parking as the most significant threat to the downtown. The decline in foot traffic as well as lockdowns and public health restrictions have severely threatened the downtown community and local businesses. The high cost to run a business downtown (property taxes, cost of rent, etc.) is a significant challenge for many businesses. Other important threats include speeding and traffic downtown, competition from big box stores and online shopping, emphasis on growth and development outside of downtown (due to floodplain, etc.) as well as poorly maintained storefronts, streets and sidewalks.
Over 70% of respondents said downtown feels safe. Pedestrian safety was the top safety-related concern raised by members. Members stated that there is a lot of traffic downtown, many motorists speed and that more crosswalks are needed. Members also raised some concerns about safety after dark, crime and break-ins.
Members‘ top priorities for next couple years
DMBIA members are focused on growth. In the next couple years, members plan to grow their businesses or expand some element of it (ie expand their retail or service offerings, open a patio, expand customer base, increase their space, etc.). They also plan to build or support a community, promote their business and make improvements to their property or space. Downtown revitailization and helping the business recover from the negative impacts of the pandemic are also important to members.
Supporting our members‘ needs
Members believe the DMBIA can best support their needs by continuing to promote their businesses and the downtown community. Members also want lots of events and activities in the downtown core to help increase foot traffic downtown. They want greater connections to other members and ongoing member communications. Better crosswalk and road safety, beautification and advocacy are other areas to be addressed. Other stakeholders are encouraged to play an active role in supporting the success of members in these and other ways.
In general, members believe that events positively benefit the downtown community and they would like events to continue running as much as possible. Through the survey, members rated various downtown events (hosted by the DMBIA and others) and for each event, indicated whether they agreed or not with the following statements: ‘Event benefits my business’, ‘Event benefits the downtown community’, ‘I want this event to continue running’. The events that received the highest scores from members were the Downtown Milton Street Festival, Downtown Milton HolidayFest and the Milton Farmers’ Market on Main Street.
The way forward
Drawing from the results of the survey, the Downtown Milton Business Improvement Area looks forward to working with members and other stakeholders in the community to support the success of local businesses and to build a vibrant downtown community.