Organization to promote downtown, Campustown

Champaign City Council finalized an agreement between the city and the Champaign Center Partnership during their study session Tuesday night.

Champaign Center Partnership is a partnership between downtown Champaign, Campustown and the area in between, which has been deemed “Midtown.”

Jill Guth, chair of the Champaign Center Partnership, said Champaign was unique in having two downtown areas, with both organizations wanting to accomplish the same goals. Guth said downtown and Campustown often competed with each other.

“We need to focus on both of those downtown areas and market their strengths, and that’s what this organization does,” Guth said.

“Successful downtowns have successful downtown business groups.”

The city would provide $50,000 and city staffing support for 20 hours per week as a part of the agreement.

Guth added that the agreement will create a partnership with the city, and the group hopes to match every dollar the city donates.

The money is budgeted in the city’s food and beverage fund, which is supported through taxes.

Steve Carter, city manager, said the money is coming from parts of the budget that are specifically allocated for such agreements, and the money would not come from the city’s general fund.

Downtown Champaign and Campustown have struggled throughout the years to fund and organize marketing and promotion activities.

Bruce Knight, Champaign planning director, said this organization can be sustainable over time.

The unified organization is expected to be able to market these areas, as well as Midtown, equally over time.

Council members Kyle Harrison, District 3, and Karen Foster, at-large, both expressed excitement for the project and said they gladly supported the measure.

This was also the final meeting for Mayor Jerry Schweighart, who announced he will not be attending next week’s council meeting.