Centennial’s effort to boost local businesses is back: ‘Spark Centennial’ program helps businesses adapt to customers who want experiences – Centennial Citizen

Local businesses

Ellis Arnold
[email protected]

The shift in American consumerism toward preferring experiences rather than products or things has weighed on Centennial city officials’ minds over the past few years, and the city is pushing forward with another round of its program to help local businesses adapt.

It’s more than just an effort to lend a hand to local shops — local governments depend on sales-tax revenue, and when the economy changes, cities find themselves hoping businesses can keep up.

The Spark Centennial Experience Accelerator program provides mentorship and funding to “inspire business owners and entrepreneurs to reshape their business value by building meaningful customer connections through for-sale experiences,” the city said in a news release.

City officials kicked off the Spark Centennial program in 2019 to fund pop-up, or temporary, events. The program intended to bring the community together and call attention to shopping centers in the city, some of which have struggled with closed grocery stores and other shuttered retail shops.

“We heard from business owners that participated in Spark that they could use more support developing these unique ideas, which led us to explore the Experience Accelerator model,” Allison Wittern, city spokesperson, said this month.

The Spark Centennial Experience Accelerator program started in 2021, with five businesses completing the program. One of those was Bridget’s Botanicals, a local business that offers herbal and plant products focused on health and well-being.

Bridget Molloy, the business’s founder, used her Spark Centennial funding to develop a mobile cart that allowed her to bring products and educational classes to public events to reach new audiences.

“I really feel like it allows me to have an element of surprise and curiosity,” said Molloy, a 35-year-old west Centennial resident.

The change added an “exploratory element” for kids and adults alike to interact with the products, Molloy said.

It encouraged “connecting with plants through health and eventually using our products,” Molloy said. “So that’s kind of the newer philosophy that blossomed out of Spark.”

City backs gatherings

The city has spent tens of thousands of dollars on the program so far, starting with public events.

In 2019, the city offered small grants to business owners who had ideas to bring more activity to public spaces in their shopping centers, Wittern said.

In total, about $16,000 in grants went to local businesses to fund four events: a crawfish boil and concert at Rolling Smoke BBQ, a video game tournament, a shopping center’s 10th anniversary celebration, and an “interactive video game where your movements are the controller,” Wittern said.

“The city’s funding leveraged an additional $30,000 in private funding, and these events helped attract nearly 42,000 people to Centennial’s shopping centers,” Wittern added.

Spark Centennial also supported some artsy public experiences. In a vacant storefront in west Centennial, an unusual …….

Source: https://centennialcitizen.net/stories/spark-centennial-effort-boost-local-businesses-back,391125

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