The Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization unveiled a new sponsorship structure during its annual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19, at the Jackson Civic Center.
The new sponsorship structure and investment package was created by UJRO’s organization committee, which was formed last year. UJRO Executive Director Janna Clifton said the new structure is more comprehensive than the previous system of supporters and individual event sponsorships.
Previously, both businesses and individuals could be supporters of UJRO through monetary donations – $120 for businesses and $35 for individuals. Now individuals and businesses can make donations at any various levels and be recognized by the organization as investors. Leveled recognitions start at $50 donations and go up to $500 donations.
“Being an investor in uptown means you see the value in what Uptown Jackson is doing and you want to invest back into it,” Clifton said. “Being a sponsor of our organization mean you get your business logo out there and shown during our events.”
Clifton said UJRO used to ask businesses if they wanted to be a sponsor for individual events. Now, businesses can pick a sponsorship level between $500 and $1,500 to be included as sponsors at every UJRO event.
In addition, businesses can now sponsor individual aspects at UJRO events, such as the artist at February Annual or the stage at Oktoberfest. “We’ve worked very hard on this and are excited about it,” Clifton said.
Clifton, as well as board members and subcommittee chairs highlighted the work UJRO did during 2022 and what the organization is working on in 2023. Clifton said the organization’s volunteers logged 2,001 hours in 2022 helping UJRO and the uptown district.
“Our volunteers are truly what makes this organization work,” Clifton said. “Aside from myself, we are entirely volunteer led. Every event, every committee, our board – everything is made up of people in our community who want to make a different in uptown.”
In November, UJRO was recognized by Missouri Main Street, a coordinating statewide organization in which UJRO is a partner, and progressed a tier in the Missouri Main Street Connection system.
“We moved from the affiliate tier of Missouri Main Street Connection to the associate tier,” Clifton said. “That essentially means we are following all the guidelines from Main Street Connection, and they are seeing things happening in uptown Jackson that are making a difference.”
The uptown district had several new businesses open in the area – including The Purple Finch, Pulse Nutrition, Photography by Rori, Wes Langston Photography, Innovative Supply Store, Charmed at Cobblestone Corner, Miss Priss Boutique, Arrow Boutique and the Busy Bee Craft Mall.
“2022 was a great year.” UJRO President Hunter Williams said. “The organization is doing a great job moving forward and growing. Overall, all of our events did better than we expected.”
Clifton added that every event hosted by UJRO in 2022 either sold out or was the largest the event had ever been. Planning has already begun on 2023 events, with this year’s February Annual art event scheduled on Feb. 25.
The 2023 February Annual is themed “Draw!” and will feature a drawing exhibit, live artist demonstrations and a showdown of artists competing for the title of “fastest draw.”
Other events scheduled this year are Springfest on April 21, Jackson In Bloom on April 29, Oktoberfest on Oct. 6-7 and the Christmas parade on Dec. 3.
Clifton added that UJRO plans to partner with the Jackson Community Outreach Board during the monthly Crusin’ Uptown Jackson events in April through September.
“The outreach board does a phenomenal job with Cruisin’ Uptown, and we hope to work with them to expand on that event – including live music and a farmer’s market,” Clifton said.
In addition, the organization is planning on adding a farm-to-table event called “Taste of Jackson.” Clifton said the event would include menus created by local restaurants and tables lined down high street.
The economic vitality committee hosted its first commercial open house in 2022, highlighting vacant buildings in the uptown district. “It went so well that we will be hosting another one [in 2023],” Economic Vitality Chair Tarry Baker said. “The date will be coming, so look for that this spring.”
The committee also hosted a social media workshop on Jan. 23 and is working on an updated business directory. Baker said it has been several years since the district’s business directory has been updated.
In addition to event, UJRO is working on several initiatives including renovations to the fountain in front of the historic Cape Girardeau County courthouse, installing public Wi-Fi for uptown visitors and adding new uptown Jackson signage.
UJRO’s design committee has worked on a signage package that would add new directional and informational signs in uptown Jackson, as well as gateway markers indicating the borders of the uptown district.
The directional signs would lead visitors to parking, shopping, food and other landmarks in and near the uptown area. The informational signs would allow the organization to promote upcoming events and provide a map of the district.
Design Committee Chair Craig Milde said UJRO has submitted the sign package to the Missouri Department of Economic Development for potential grant funding. Clifton added that the organization hopes to have the signage project be underway by 2024.
During the meeting, Clifton showed photos of the courthouse fountain from when it was new and water sprayed significantly higher than it currently does. “It’s not quite the same, so we are very excited to renovate the fountain,” Clifton said, adding that the fountain turned 60 years old this past June.
Clifton said UJRO is working with the city and with the department of economic development to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the fountain renovation, as well as partnering with the city and Circle Fiber for public Wi-Fi.
Members of Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization voted to replace the word “supporter” with “investor” throughout its bylaws, as well as change the board member term limit from two to three consecutive terms.
“I think the point of the term limits is to keep some freshness on the board, and we think we can still do that with three consecutive terms,” Williams said. “Sometimes it takes board members some time to know exactly what’s going on and get a feel for everything.”
Madison Boeller was elected treasurer, replacing outgoing board member Donna Cook, and Natalie Pannier was elected secretary, replacing outgoing board member Janet Sanders. Board president Hunter Williams and Vice President Scott Givens will remain in their positions for 2023.
The board also includes new members Kathy Jansen and Brian Thompson – as well as Paul Sander, Mike Seabaugh and Tina Weber.