Matthews commissioners have approved $20,000 for the Red Brick Partnership, a new downtown organization designed to bring downtown businesses together to work on common problems, attract new business and visitors and make the area more vibrant.
The group has secured more than $10,000 in donations from interested property owners and will have its own board of directors and committees, with support from town staff.
The partnership is the result of an 18-month evaluation by the town’s appointed Economic Development Advisory Committee, tasked by town leaders to discern how best to organize downtown businesses. Several public meetings were held and more than 200 individuals expressed interest.
Matthews business owner, EDAC member and partnership co-chairman John Urban said the new organization will allow business owners to work together for their common good.
“Downtown Matthews is like a mall without a roof, but a mall has management,” Urban said. “We don’t have an organization like that; we have to look out for ourselves. This way we can bring everyone under one roof and figure out how we as individuals can help all of us cumulatively to grow.”
He said the name of the organization symbolizes what they hope to accomplish. “It takes a lot of bricks to make a house. It will take a lot of merchants working together to make this a success,” Urban said.
The partnership already has plans to promote itself, creating a new website and mobile application, securing banners displaying its new logo and offering coasters stamped with logos to be used in downtown food-service establishments.
The Red Brick Partnership will hold its first event the first Thursday in May, with the public invited to stroll through downtown Matthews taking advantage of specials offered by local businesses.
Urban said it will be similar to the annual “Holiday Stroll.” They plan for the downtown stroll to become a regular event the first Thursday of each month.
Rob Jacik, partnership co-chairman and owner of Carolina Beer Temple in downtown, said it’s an exciting time to be part of downtown.
“Business owners throughout the downtown area are excited, and there is a ton of enthusiasm for this group. We see great potential with the partnership,” Jacik said.
“For me, I see a great opportunity for all the businesses in downtown to collaborate and work together. The Red Brick Partnership also includes residents and will be a great opportunity for businesses and residents to shape the future of Matthews.”