Lismore CBD’s strong heartbeat
LISMORE'S loss will be Byron Bay's gain with Katie O'Rourke, current City Centre Manager with Lismore Come to The Heart, taking up a new role with the Visitor Industry Association for Byron Shire.
After two years in her current role Ms O'Rourke will be working as a consultant for VIA Byron as well as continuing work with other North Coast businesses through her strategic marketing company, Cake Marketing.
"The idea behind Lismore Come to the Heart is to revitalise the city centre and make it a vibrant and engaging place for people to come and do business," Ms O'Rourke said. "Instead of just settling for a media campaign, we looked at integrating public relations, marketing and place making."
Lismore Come to the Heart delivers events such as Carols by Candlelight, Spoilt for Choice Christmas Shopping promotion and City Centre concerts. One of Ms O'Rourke's final assignments will be to help launch a new website for Lismore with Tourism Services this Thursday.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said that shop vacancy rates in Lismore were the lowest they had been for the past five years.
"I believe this is attributable to the work of the Lismore Business Promotion Panel and the Come to the Heart promotions," said Cr Dowell. "When you think of Come to The Heart, Katie's name is always front and centre in delivering events such as last Sunday night's Carols by Candlelight."
"I can't thank her enough for all she has done for the CBD. She has done an amazing job and we are sorry to see her leave.
Lismore Come to the Heart also supported the creation of The Back Alley Gallery, a street art gallery in Eggins Ln, Lismore.
Ms O'Rourke was key in gaining finance for a short film about the gallery, Piece by Peace, through the online crowd funding site Pozible.
"The Back Alley Gallery project has been awesome, it has breathed new life into the city centre," Cr Dowell said. "Unlike events that come and go, the gallery is always there drawing people into the city centre.
Ms O'Rourke admitted that it could often be a challenge to juggle the aspirations of all Lismore's business stakeholders.
"I have had great support from the Lismore Business Promotion Panel (LBPP), and the events team," Ms O'Rourke said. "Through the LBPP, social media and council forums the community were able to give us feedback and we were able to stay on track."
"Results of a recent Southern Cross University research project also show that out in the business community 67% agree or strongly agree that over the past two years the CBD has improved and 66% agree or strongly agree the CBD is more attractive to them."
Ms O'Rourke said there were still challenges facing Lismore retailers such as flexible opening hours, online marketing and the role of social media.
"I'm looking forward to seeing who is next in the job and seeing them put their own individual stamp on the role," she said.