In 2021, we led our client, the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority, to an award winning initiative.The Royal Oak DDA had an immense impact on small businesses in the Downtown Development District during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caught the attention of Main Street America. 

The DDA took two million dollars from a land sale from a developer earlier the previous year and dedicated it to relief and recovery programs, specifically helping businesses. The first program was the Rebound Royal Oak Small Business Assistance grant. The grant amount ranged from $4,000 to $32,000 and was available to restaurants, retailers, salons, and cafes. The amount of the grant award was a complex calculation of the square footage of the business, the average amount of monthly hours worked by employees, rent, and the age of the business. 92 businesses applied for the program. And all 92 businesses were approved for funding. This accounted for nearly $1.3 million dollars. The grant was disbursed in two to three installments for businesses that could count on a monthly check. 

The grant program continued to keep the local economy from collapsing. The second program stimulated demand by helping to subsidize consumer spending through a buy-local program called Royal Oak Downtown Dollars. The Royal Oak DDA partnered with a company called Yiftee, which recently launched an electronic community card program. The DDA initially allocated $400,000 to this program, which began by sending out free $20 e-gift cards to anyone who signed up for its newsletter. The e-gift cards could be redeemed at up to 75 locations in downtown Royal Oak, including restaurants, cafes, retailers, and salons.

For some businesses, these programs made a difference between closing forever and continuing to have a presence in the community.

As a result of their efforts, the Royal Oak DDA was recognized nationally and awarded a coveted Main Street Forward Award. They were just one of six downtowns across the country, and the only community in Michigan to receive the recognition. 

“The business recovery program established by the Downtown Development Authority is the most impactful project we have ever implemented, and we are honored to be recognized by Main Street America,” said Sean Kammer, former downtown manager for Royal Oak. “The grants and the Downtown Dollars program are helping to make sure all businesses are successful, and that Downtown Royal Oak continues to evolve into the future. We have heard from so many that these programs saved their business – and it’s amazing to see what can be accomplished when a community comes together.” 

With impact being one of our core values at Siren, driving meaningful results for our clients is something we continuously strive for. Through the power of communication we were able to bring this community together in an unprecedented time and get them the recognition they deserve. And when they’re winning, we’re winning.