Who Said There is Nothing to Do?
Fifty businesses along the Michigan-Grand River corridor and across the region signed up for the first event, so organizers are optimistic that the concept has traction.
It’s a marketing no-brainer for businesses because they can take advantage of a lot of free promotion to increase business and attract new customers who could become regulars. It’s also an opportunity for them to get creative with discounts, contests, clever theme nights, giveaways, how-to classes, live entertainment and other activities without a long-term commitment.
And Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) provides free bus rides all evening.
The fun factor
The social aspects of First Fridays should not be overlooked as an important part of the economic development effort. Keep in mind that Kiplingers.com named Lansing one of the 10 Great Cities for Young Adults last year, observing “Michigan’s capital is a little-known hotbed for young professionals.”
Events like First Fridays and the variety of established music festivals, including Common Ground, help give Greater Lansing a sense of place and culture that is attractive to young professionals. Attracting and keeping young people is imperative, especially since the area has lost thousands of residents over the last decade.
First Fridays gives the restaurants, art galleries and retail shops a chance to become part of the nightlife along with what Kiplingers.com called a “respectable bar and club scene.” First Fridays also gives residents of all ages an opportunity to socialize in extraordinary ways just by being in the same crowd.
It only took weeks for more than 600 people to join First Fridays on Twitter and Facebook.
Room for everyone
The great thing about First Fridays is that there is no limit to participation. Every business in Greater Lansing can take part. And there are attractions for young people, families and seniors alike.
First Fridays is a collaborative effort, led by the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau, CATA, Team Lansing Foundation, along with key partners: Thomas M. Cooley Law School, City of Lansing, City of East Lansing, downtown East Lansing merchants, Downtown Lansing Inc., Old Town Commercial Association, Lansing EDC, Lansing Community College, Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Leap Inc., Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA), Board of Water & Light, Lansing State Journal, Pace and Partners, Capital Gains, Adams Outdoor Advertising, Skyline Outdoor, Grand River Connection and other organizations.
Over time, the first Friday of each month is likely to be the date of choice for organizations and businesses to hold their annual events. It’s also an opportunity for them to partner to create new events or package deals.
There is no limit to the possibilities. So how will you be spending the next First Friday?
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Christina Campbell is an account manager at Pace & Partners, a Lansing-based marketing communications agency founded in 1978.