Board also explores $1,000 grants for businesses that make virus-related building improvements
Sanford’s Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) approved funding for a video campaign aimed at promoting businesses affected by statewide shutdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
About $1,800 will be used for video production with the remainder used for ad buys on cable, broadcast and social media networks. The Sanford Main Street organization, made up of downtown businesses, will kick in an additional $10,000 for the campaign.
The ads will use the hashtags #sanfording #safely to remind Central Floridians that visiting downtown Sanford’s restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars can still be done in a responsible way.
The hashtag #sanfording began popping up on social media feeds about 6 years ago as a way to encourage people to support locally-owned businesses in downtown Sanford.
Restaurants in Florida can only operate at 25% capacity, and breweries and bars without a food license remain closed. Still, CRA Chairman Charles Davis said now was the time to move forward on funding a marketing campaign.
“It’s going to take 2 or 3 weeks to produce the video, so by the time we’re ready to place ads a lot of the restrictions could be lifted,” Davis said. “I think it’s better to approve the money now so we’re ready to go as things start opening up more.”
Board member Theo Hollerbach, who’s Willow Tree Cafe serves more than 5,000 guests per week when operating at full capacity, suggested the campaign should be done in conjunction with a downtown event.
Other board members noted It could be sometime before state officials lift restrictions on the large-scale street festivals popular in Sanford. A drive-through art exhibit could be a solution, Hollerbach said.
City Communications Director Lisa Holder will work with a local production company to create the video, and she is expected to have an ad to show CRA board members by their June 3 meeting.
In other business, the CRA board discussed creating a $1,000 grant program for downtown businesses that have to make permanent building improvements to meet social distancing and sanitizing guidelines in response to the pandemic.
Such improvements might include the installation of permanent barriers or shields, sanitizing stations or other measures.
Creating a brand new program would require approvals from the Sanford City Commission and the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners and could take as long as 9 months to implement.
Instead, the CRA board asked CRA Director Sonia Fonseca to update the agency’s existing Facade Grant Program to accommodate the Covid-19-related improvements.
Fonseca is expected to present the changes to the CRA at its June 3 meeting for approval. Businesses that have already made physical improvements could be reimbursed for expenses.