On Avalon is a project sponsored by Councilman Joe Buscaino to strengthen the historic heart of Wilmington and promote economic development. This project is led by LA-Más and uses urban design and business strategies to support local entrepreneurs. The Small Business Support Program is a direct result of the community findings outlined in the On Avalon Strategic Roadmap, which outlines permanent enhancements and new programs for the boulevard. As part of the Roadmap engagement process the community created their vision for safer and more welcoming corridor where they (along with visitors) could socialize, recreate and shop locally. A central theme that emerged was ensuring that Avalon Boulevard is for and by the Wilmington community – which requires supporting existing small businesses and their potential to contribute to a local economy.
The Small Business Support Program is a free to low-cost program that combines technical assistance with design services to create comprehensive improvements for individual businesses and the corridor. Most businesses on Avalon Boulevard have yet to experience any formalized small business support, due to factors such as time constraints, unfamiliarity with city and county services, and language barriers. To that end, this program offers personalized and tailored support for the participating businesses in both English and Spanish. The menu of technical assistance strategies ranges from establishing a business, creating business and marketing plans, workshops and trainings on social media and legal aid, and applying for appropriate license and permitting. Design services include landscaping, signage, outdoor seating, and facade improvements — all of which attract new customers and enhances the pedestrian experience. Through this comprehensive support, we hope to grow and sustain the small business along Avalon Boulevard (between Anaheim and C street) and create an enjoyable, safe street for visitors and locals alike.
The Small Business Support Program is currently underway. The program began with two weeks of door-to-door canvassing of the 61 businesses along the street and a assessment of current vacancies. After speaking with almost 60 businesses along Avalon Boulevard between Anaheim and C street, the On Avalon team will be providing technical assistance to 12 small businesses and design services to half a dozen of those.
Each participating business has partaken in a detailed interview and intake assessment that informs the specific technical assistance and design services needed. Over the summer and into the fall, these business will be receiving hands-on support and check-ins to ensure the technical assistance and design services fit their needs and can continue after the program comes to a close. An evaluation model and exit interviews will help measure the impact and success of the program for each business.