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A new program from the Iowa City Downtown District will put cash in the pockets of anyone who successfully refers a new retail business to open up shop downtown.
The ILoveIC Retail Referral Program will award $500 to anyone who refers a business to downtown Iowa City that then signs a lease on a downtown store space.
Residents can earn a $10 downtown gift card for any referral that results in a business owner contacting the Downtown District.
The money is from the Downtown District’s general fund. Bird declined to set a total on how much the Downtown District would be able to spend on the program.
“We decided to put it out to the larger community to help us recruit and help shape the community, essentially, into something they’d like to see in the future,” said Nancy Bird, executive director of the Downtown District.
The program is aimed to help bring more retail to the bar and restaurant-heavy district.
Bird said it is difficult to convert restaurant space into other types of retail space — so the Downtown District works to bring dry goods retailers into spaces that already are suited to those needs.
“The independent retail is the category that really needs additional support to make sure they can find a great space to lease downtown,“ Bird said.
The program will continue through the year, or until the funds expire.
“It’s a goal of our organization to make sure that this remains the community’s living room and a hub to the region,” Bird said. “We’re here to support those who enter here, enter our ecosystem and that it’s as welcoming as possible.”
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