Albany - Downtown now has its own events planner. "At the beginning of next year, you'll see a schedule of events from the entire upcoming year," said Lakisha Bryant.
Bryant is the city's first downtown manager. Her job is to plan events such as festivals, concerts, and fairs to draw people back to downtown Albany. Albany Tomorrow Incorporated will pay her $52,500 a year. The city hopes for a return of millions of dollars for downtown businesses.
Subway is one of the newest businesses to come to downtown Albany. "Since we're downtown, many people still don't know we're here," said manager Bonnie Pitts.
But, Pitts wants that to change and feels a downtown manager can help Subway take off. "Anything the city can do to help drum up business is great not just for this business, but for all downtown businesses," said Pitts.
Over the last 30 years, the once thriving business district downtown has nearly disappeared. But a few businesses stuck around and others are slowing moving to the area. One of the main jobs of the new downtown manager is to get people to walk the streets of the city's main square. "Once we can get people to downtown Albany, they will hopefully see the places to eat, shop, and work. Eventually, those people may even move to Albany and make this a destination city to live, work, and play," said Bryant.
Bryant's face is a familiar one. She most recently worked in the public relations department at Miller Brewing. Now, she will brew up tourism. "Our plan is to get different educational, cultural, and recreational activities to downtown Albany."
Bryant will work with the Downtown Merchants' Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Visitors Bureau. "Our first big job is coming up with a some events and promotions to coincide with the major openings, such as the Rivercenter which is already about 50% complete," said Bryant.
Those events will include a huge festival to mark the opening of the Rivercenter next summer, and Pitts hopes festival go-ers will stop in for a Subway sandwich before heading home.
Bryant, an Albany native, was one of dozens of applicants for the position. She is also working with the Merchants' Association to throw a downtown Halloween Party.