Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) serve as an economic development tool to fund public improvement and/or municipal services in a defined geographic area. PIDs, which are created only at request of land owners via petition, are funded by special assessments apportioned and paid by land owners that benefit from the public improvement and/or services.
Soul-y Austin identifies capacity building as a key component of developing sustainable merchants associations. Through district trainings, Soul-y Austin hopes to strengthen the skills and abilities that both the businesses and forming organizations require to adapt and thrive in the community. On-going trainings on association formation, management, fundraising and sponsorships and contracts and intellectual property are just a few of the trainings available for participating districts.
Through district placemaking, Soul-y Austin provides an additional resource to assist in the beautification and enhancement of business districts. The goal of Soul-y Austin placemaking is to promote the Soul-y districts, increase pedestrian activity and encourage patrons to experience the businesses and services found in Austin’s unique and vibrant business districts. Through direct collaboration with a placemaking consultant, Soul-y Austin districts develop placemaking projects that positively impact the economic vitality of businesses within the commercial area and are visible to the public.
Pop-ups focus on the activation of vacant space to spur economic development in the area. Pop-up shops within the Soul-y Austin districts provide an opportunity for placement of creatives and artists that are not prepared to take on the burden of renting or buying property. Food vending in some locations can also be considered as a pop-up in districts.
Tactical urbanism is an urban intervention of quick, often temporary, and inexpensive projects that aim to enhance or address a specific area. Tactical urbanism interventions focus on working with the community and stakeholder to develop ideas and realistic goals for implementation. Soul-y Austin looks forward to utilizing tactical urbanism as a resource to temporarily improve areas and stimulate pedestrian traffic in its districts.
The Soul-y Austin Speaker Series exposes merchants associations’ success stories to the business community in Austin. Through this speaker series, Soul-y Austin targets businesses within the community that are, or would like to be, involved in the process of forming a merchants association and creating an organized business district. Previous speaker series included the “Imaginative Merchants”.
Soul-y Austin provides a series of on-going trainings designed to assist with the development of sustainable merchants associations. The district trainings focus on strengthening the skills and building leadership within the merchants association. Trainings include, but are not limited to, merchants association formation and management, contracts and intellectual property, recordkeeping and taxes, and association leadership.
Business districts who successfully form a merchants association and go through the Soul-y Austin process are eligible to receive a monetary activation award to be used for district activation. The award serves as an opportunity to collaborate in the development and implementation of a public facing project that positively impacts the community and attracts individuals to the district.
Placemaking: In 2017, Soul-y Austin will launch its first round of placemaking projects in the districts, which will allow each merchants association to work collectively with Public City and the Soul-y Team to further activate their district, attract more patrons and highlight place.