TWIN FALLS — Originally thought of before COVID-19, "Connect Downtown" seeks to assist local business owners by meeting and discussing issues or concerns. Other local owners will be able to provide comments or thoughts on the issues at hand to reach a solution.
Now, amid the pandemic, this initiative is even more resourceful as business operations have been negatively affected throughout the area. Twin Falls Economic Development Director Nathan Murray, who has been the driving force for this idea, said, "This really is a moment to get some good insight. I know people hire consultants, and they pay people to give them feedback. But here you're going to get critiqued by other business owners in your same geographical area."
The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Twin Beans Coffee Company at 9:00 am. Each meeting, a different business is selected to be the focus of that discussion. There, the owner can consult the room about problems ranging from marketing to correctly enforcing safe hygiene practices. Following this tends to be a 30-45 minute conversation where other local business owners can evaluate and give constructive criticism and advice on overcoming such obstacles.
Owner of the fashion store, The Brass Monkey, Kenzie Taylor, said, "It's kind of like having your own peer group. So you speak, and then they could tell you ideas or experiences they've had to overcome that kind of a hurdle for your business."
The first meeting was on August 5th, and around 13 business owners attended, along with a city manager. The city expects those numbers to grow because, despite its being downtown focused, other local owners can participate if they choose. Since a different business is the main topic of every meeting, business owners are encouraged to contact Nathan Murray to put you on the schedule. Prospective business owners can also attend if they wish to find tips on how they can successfully operate a business.
This period in time is unprecedented for everyone, where even the most successful business finds themselves struggling. Being able to receive feedback from a wide variety of people can truly make a difference. "It's just nice to have that feedback, because sometimes as a business owner, you feel isolated, but you don't realize that all the problems are universal. And so to be able to have a group of your peers discussing things is really nice."