A variety of methods — tried and true, as well as cutting edge — are being utilized to tell the positive story of downtown Jackson. Downtown Jackson Partners is leading the charge with an aggressive campaign that has president Ben Allen speaking on the luncheon circuit several times a week, launching a slick new magazine and planning a high-tech marketing center, slated to open early next year.
Titled Boom Jackson, the 100-page magazine debuts in May and will be placed in various office waiting rooms and every hotel room from the quality of a Best Western and up. It’s being produced by the Jackson Free Press, which Allen says was chosen for a reason.
“They’re young people, and young people get what we’re trying to do downtown more than older people. Younger people want urban living,” he says. “It won’t be a boring magazine, but will be one you can wrap your arms around and will have interesting stories about local people.”
As he speaks to groups all over the metro area, Allen is bringing excitement with a new three-dimensional presentation. “It’s a virtual tour presentation, an interactive tour showing every building and future development in downtown Jackson,” he says. “There’s a landing page for each one and it’s made to never be dated.”
It’s a computer-based interactive tour that enables someone coming to Jackson from another city to see exactly what Mississippi’s Capital City has to offer. The presentation was developed by the Marketing Alliance of Jackson, whose president, John Abbate, says computer animation is used such as that used in gaming devices.
“We used some unique three-dimensional capabilities that give a sense of scale and magnitude,” Abbate says. “It’s an innovative way to do it — the latest thing. We’re still fine tuning it. It’s a work in progress.”
That work in progress will reach its full potential when Downtown Jackson Partners opens its new offices and marketing center at 509 East Pearl Street, hopefully in early 2009.
“From the marketing center, visitors can view all downtown. The presentation will incorporate a panoramic photo and will showcase everything down there and will give a better feel for it instead of driving around,” he added. “People can get their bearings. To my knowledge, there’s nothing like this in Mississippi.”
Allen says his organization will share second-floor office space in the building with Main Street Mississippi. The first-floor marketing/multi-media center will have theater-style seating and is projected to cost $500,000. It will be available for use by other entities, too.
Steve Davis, a partner with Canizaro, Cawthon & Davis Architects, is re-designing the building that has been vacant 10 years. He thinks it was built in the early 1920s. The store front facing Pearl Street will be left in tact.
“It’s a nice old building with a lot of good things to save,” he says. “It will be seen first as people come off Interstate 55 into downtown and will be like our gateway office.”
The idea came from a planning trip Davis made to Holland four years ago. Cities there had gateway marketing centers filled with information, computer screens, posters and maps. Leaving the historic elements of the building intact and juxtoposing the 21st Century marketing displays against it will create a cool look.
“We’re trying to make people understand that we’re blessed with a strong community that makes Jackson attractive to investors,” he says. “Investment money is pouring in, and 80% is from out-of-town investors. Convincing our local people is the job.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.