Downtown Elgin, get ready to feel the love.
"We (Heart) Downtown Elgin" is a new campaign the Downtown Neighborhood Association is planning to launch sometime around mid-May or early June to celebrate its 15th anniversary.
There will be banners featuring downtown businesses, a free printed business directory, and a website that will include full restaurant menus and information about special promotions.
The whole thing will be smartphone-friendly, including QR codes and an easily accessible website, DNA Managing Director Jason Pawlowski said.
"We wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion for 15 years of revitalization. The DNA has played a fairly significant role in the process," he said.
"Buy local" will be the mantra of the initiative, Pawlowski said.
"From the gas that you put in your tank to drive downtown, to going to eat after you go shopping and the impact that makes on a restaurant and the waiter who serves you, it's all part of it," Pawlowski said.
"It's also when you shop and see something that you don't necessarily like for yourself, but you know someone else would like it. It's that organic, word-of-mouth marketing."
The initiative will put a real, human focus on Elgin business owners.
The banners will showcase the faces of Elgin business owners, and the new website will feature one-minute "webisodes," or video clips telling the stories of local businesses, Pawlowski said.
The goal is to get not just Elginites, but people from surrounding communities and beyond to shop in Elgin, he said.
The DNA also plans to hold six "cash mobs" this year, Pawlowski said.
A cash mob is a sort of retail flash mob during which people agree to meet at a specific time in front of one or more businesses, and agree to spend a set amount of money -- usually $10 or $20 -- in one hour, he explained.
The first Downtown Elgin Cash Mob will take place sometime in April at Elgin Knit Works, 8 Douglas Ave., and Soulful Sparrow, 10 Douglas Ave., he said.
Later this month, the DNA also will be holding a brainstorming session open to the community.
"It's to sort of do a 'reset' of what the DNA does, to look at what we can do for our residents, for our businesses, for our visitors -- any stakeholder," Pawlowski said. "We want to generate feedback from the community so we can develop our programming."
Downtown Brainstorm 2013 is scheduled 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 at The Centre of Elgin's Heritage Ballroom, 100 Symphony Way.