About

Since 1981, the Downtown Carlisle Association has been striving to enhance the civic, cultural and economic vitality of the entire community – retail, service, academic, government and industry. Currently in our 30th year, Carlisle has the distinction of being one of the longest, continuous running Main Street based programs in the Commonwealth.

The DCA follows the National Historic Trust Main Street Principles for its’ organizational management structure.  Trained by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the DCA provides an array of benefits for downtown business & tourism, and Borough staff augumentation.

The Downtown Carlisle Association’s mission and programs are solely crafted and dedicated to the implementation of various aspects of the Borough of Carlisle’s Comprehensive Plan and the observed need of downtown business owners and stakeholders.  With oversight from a community-based volunteer board of directors, regional liaisons, volunteers, and borough leadership, the DCA provides an array of programs dedicated to achieving the common goals of Carlisle, using the managerial structure provided through the National Historic Trust’s
4-point Main Street Approach, adapted by the DCA to include a 5th point to service the residents of the C1 and the Elm Street Program.

RETAIL RECRUITMENT
The DCA implements a recruitment program based out of the ERA 2007 Merchandising Mix study and the 2012 Gibbs study.  Using these concepts, our team of recruiters have used the momentum of Carlisle’s success to drive our vacancy rate to its lowest point in years.

Embedded within the retail recruitment program, is a retail retention program whereby we network with local businesses and offer management or marketing assistance when an individual business is struggling or the same management or marketing assistance and financial assistance when an entrepreneur is poised to expand within their C-1 business. Acting as a guide through either process, our retail recruiter would identify needs and solutions for the business owner. These solutions are countless but could include managerial training from local mentors up to the Small Business Development Corporation, direction to fiscal assistance from local, state, federal or private dollars, navigation through local and county building or business expansion codes.

We assist in business expansion through a “one stop shop” listing of currently listed properties that are available for purchase or lease, and additional properties that are not listed but are available through private owners or speculation of current tenant turnover. This list contains a host of information including square footage, utilities, proposed rent or purchase price.

LOVECARLISLE.COM BRAND
Through the DCA 5-point Main Street approach the Downtown Carlisle Association gives the Borough of Carlisle a cost-effective resource to assist in accomplishing long-range planning goals set by the comprehensive plan and short-term goals designed by the current Borough Council strategic goals.

The DCA started its aggressive branding and marketing strategy 36 months ago with the launch of the LoveCarlisle.com brand. As any brand manager, the DCA has put all of its resources and efforts into marketing this brand through traditional and non-traditional mediums and outlets along with supporting and encouraging others to use and embrace the message.

The DCA markets downtown Carlisle as a travel/visiting destination to a 30 mile radius. Using our brand of LoveCarlisle.com we have utilized all methods of traditional media (television, radio, newsprint, glossy print) along with non-traditional media (internet, social media, sponsorships) in promoting and raising awareness of the relevancy of downtown Carlisle as an entertainment, dining and shopping option comparable to other mid-state destinations.

DOWNTOWN CARLISLE GUIDE
With the LoveCarlisle.com brand, we provide free listings and opportunities for upgraded, pay for service, ads in our glossy printed downtown guide and map. 25,000 of these maps are distributed throughout the downtown and mid-state to appropriate lodging and high traffic attraction sites.

WEBSITE
Along with the downtown guide is the correlating LoveCarlisle.com website. With over 61,000 page views in 2012, this site, as intended, is fast becoming the one stop source for information on entertainment, attractions and visitation information for Downtown Carlisle.

DOWNTOWN EMAIL BLASTS
The DCA also provides downtown merchants with free advertising in a 1,400 person distributed e-newsletter through Constant Contact. In 2012, 120,866 recipients have viewed information sent via the DCA’s “It’s Happening in Carlisle” informational email news blasts.

SOCIAL MEDIA
In addition to the aforementioned free advertising we offer to retain businesses and support local entrepreneurship, we also offer a maintain a highly-used social media based Facebook page. With OVER 1,150 people keeping track of events and postings daily, this advertising outlet has become an up to the minute way of displaying and retrieving information on local opportunities within and outside of the Downtown.

CREATIVE SERVICES
The DCA also offers free creative services when local businesses owners utilize any of its complementary advertising services. The DCA executive director creates the proper print or internet ad for the downtown client, submits it for approval and places it in the requested medium whether the printed guide, website or e-newsletters. The artwork belongs to the downtown client and they are free to use it in whatever additional projects they choose.

These free services of advertising and creative services provides direct, off the bottom-line cash savings to the merchant in their marketing and creative budget line items.

Along with the introduction of LoveCarlisle.com, the DCA produces one of the most successful special event series dedicated to bringing people into Downtown Carlisle.  As an organization we bring over 50,000 guests into downtown annually from special events.  These guests shop in local stores, eat downtown, and take great experiences home to share the positive assets of Carlisle with their family and friends.

These events include the Savor the Flavor/Taste of Carlisle, First Friday Retail Promotion events, Corvette Parade, Ford Parade, Harvest of the Arts, USAWC Welcome Jam, Discover Downtown, and Santa Comes to Town.  These events, coupled with the partnerships we have with regional assets such as Carlisle Events, USAWC, USAHEC, Dickinson College, PSDSL ensure that Downtown Carlisle is known and marketed as the place to go when you are in the region.

DCA SUCCESSES
The DCA, as with any revitalization program, is not always able to show concrete data on the ROI ratio.  But with confronted with the obvious, reasonable people can see there is life, vibrancy, and a plan for success being implemented in downtown Carlisle.  Not all success, or failure, can rest on one person in this agency.  As a community lead group, all of Carlisle’s success is related to the teamwork of borough leaders, DCA committee and community members, media, sponsors, chamber executives, and everyone else who wants to see downtown succeed.  While many of our successes are qualitative and long in fruition, the following are some “by the numbers” successes we have enjoyed the last 3 years.

ORGANIZATION – GRANTS & SPONSORSHIPS
Because of the DCA, Carlisle was able to obtain an Elm Street district that surrounds the C1.  This program, along with others, we were able to secure over With this program we brought the following grants into Carlisle.

organization

Through our Fiduciary agreements we were able to help …
East Side raise $14.5K towards the Biddle Mission Park improvements
South of South raise $7,K toward the Butch Tot-lot improvements

ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING / RETAIL RECRUITMENT
Carlisle is at its lowest vacancy rate since 2005.  Based on 133 storefronts
March 2005    – 20 vacancies    15%
March 2007    -18 vacancies    14 %
Feb. 2013        – 10 vacancies    8%
March 2015     – 11 vacancies    8%

 

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DESIGN
Expanded BLOOMIN’ CARLISLE from 24 downtown flowering planters to 48 planters. Business owners purchased giant flowering pots to place in front of their businesses for spring, summer, and autumn decoration.

Purchased over 100 new downtown way finding banners that give visitors a sense of place and advertise LoveCarlisle.com.
Secured donation of four large downtown planters for the square that are planted seasonally by the DCA.
Created the Carlisle Historic Downtown Commercial District Building and Signage Guidelines. This 20 page reference guide for Historic Commercial Buildings provides a consistent style source for the historical overlay of commercial buildings in the C1 zoning district.

Our current list of special events are as follows:

SAVOR THE FLAVOR

Location: St Patrick’s Community Room
Audience:    Carlisle/area residents
Average Attendance: 500 people
Purpose:    Provide an expo style location for area businesses to sell/sample/promote product.

FIRST FRIDAY SERIES

Location(s):
May – Art Walk
June  – Kid’s Night Out
August – Restaurant Walk/ US Army War College Welcome Jam
September – Football Friday
October – Music Walk – Dickinson Discover Downtown

Audience:    Carlisle/Area residents

Carlisle / Area residents, Ford Show – South Hanover Street (June)
Carlisle/Area residents, War College, Dickinson College – West High Street First Friday
Average Attendance:    500 each
Purpose:    Promote and raise awareness of the integral shopping/dining retail neighborhoods in downtown Carlisle.

FORD PARADE

Location:    Carlisle Fairgrounds, Downtown Carlisle
Audience:    Ford car show enthusiasts, Carlisle/Area residents
Average Attendance:    1,500 (first year)
Purpose:    Provide a joint promotional event between the Fairgrounds/Ford car show guests and Downtown businesses. Provide a presence at the Fairgrounds to promote downtown Carlisle to show guests.

CORVETTE PARADE

Location:    Carlisle Fairgrounds, Downtown Carlisle
Audience:    Corvette car show enthusiasts, Carlisle/Area residents
Average Attendance:    5,000
Purpose:    Provide a joint promotional event between the Fairgrounds/Corvette car show guests and Downtown businesses. Provide a presence at the Fairgrounds to promote downtown Carlisle to show guests.

HARVEST OF THE ARTS

Including:    US Army War College Welcome Jam
Dickinson College Discover Downtown

Location:    Downtown Carlisle
Audience:    Local and regional consumers of the arts, Dickinson College students/parents, US Army War College students, families, and staff.
Average Attendance:    20,000
Purpose:    Harvest of the Arts – Provide a special event dedicated to the promotion of Carlisle being a viable and trendy arts destination.

USAWC Welcome Jam – Provide a the new students of the War College a “Welcome to Carlisle” musical performance along with showcasing of downtown with the Arts Festival.

Discover Downtown – Provide a the students and families of Dickinson College with an event where they can explore downtown merchants along with showcasing the downtown in a festival style atmosphere.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
Location:   Downtown Carlisle
Audience:  Carlisle / Area residents
Average Attendance:  5,000
Purpose:  Develop program to coordinate with national American Express “Small Business Saturday” program

SANTA COMES TO TOWN
Location:    Downtown Carlisle
Audience:    Carlisle/Area residents
Average Attendance:    2,000
Purpose:    Provide a parade to launch the holiday season and promote downtown shopping.