Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Durham Art Guild Receives 2011 Best of Durham Award

The arts are alive and well in Durham, and they have been for decades as is evidenced by this award that the Durham Art Guild earned for excellence in their practice.

The organization has been honored with the 2011 Best of Durham Award in the Art Galleries category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2011 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strengths and Threats to Resident Attachment to Durham

For nearly two decades DCVB has used scientific polling to annually track things like community pride and satisfaction among residents. It has provided indisputable confirmation of the passion Durham residents feel about their community.  This is important to destination marketing because residents make emotional connections with visitors, and their engagement is key to delivering a successful Durham experience.

Durham was an early pioneer of this type of assessment as a means to monitor the resident attachment and engagement which is so important to the strength of a community.  In fact, there were no benchmarks to compare to except on the few occasions DCVB would sample opinions about similar communities in North Carolina.

Recently, though, the Knight Foundation and the Gallup Poll conducted a similar series survey of 26 areas of varying sizes across the nation over a three-year period ending last year.
  • Passion and loyalty turn out to be the most important indicators of resident attachment to their communities or connectedness which correlates with economic health. 
  • Compared to the overall passion benchmark of barely 1 to1 nationwide and in North Carolina, Durham passion among residents for the community is nearly 15 to 1.
  • In the measure of loyalty to community, which includes how likely residents are to stay and recommend it to others and the outlook for the future, Durham residents are three times higher than the benchmark. Overall attachment to Durham was more than double the next highest community in the benchmark.
The Knight/Gallup analysis also revealed something that threatens to erode resident attachment to Durham if not remedied. With only one glaring exception, among the dozen or so attributes that drive attachment, Durham was above or at the benchmark.

The three most important drivers for the benchmark were identified as 1) social offerings, which includes nightlife, restaurants, arts and culture, and caring about one another etc. 2) openness to different groups and 3) aesthetics, in that order.
  • In the area of social offerings Durham residents ranked the community 2.3 times higher than the benchmark.
  • In the area of openness Durham residents also ranked the community 2.3 times higher than the benchmark.
  • However, in the area of aesthetics, which by 4 to 1 Durham residents rank a as a high community priority, Durham ranks more than 4 times lower than the benchmark.
While by a ratio of 5 to 1 Durham residents rank the community high for availability of parks, playgrounds and trails, by 3 to 1 they disagree that roadsides and public areas are attractive and litter free. By 2.5 to 1 they disagree that Durham has good signs and way-finding to help people get around. And the longer people live in the community, the more they disagree with Durham’s standing on these last two measures.

Clearly Durham residents believe that if officials want to protect and improve the attachment and connectedness among residents then the element they most need to improve is the overall upkeep and aesthetics of the community.

Improving aesthetics will also help improve other drivers of attachment. Experts conducting regression analysis predict that if officials can engage in activities that improve resident perception of aesthetics from the current 2.45 on a scale of 1 to 5 or to 3.45, it will also improve the perception of education by 25% in the perception of overall basic services by 51%.

Durham Getting Friendlier for Bikes

Developing and fostering alternative forms of transportation is a priority for The City, County of Durham, Downtown Durham, Inc. and the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau - organizations charged with the mission of making Durham an even greater place to live, work and visit. With an influx of improvements to road conditions, Durham will soon be an even friendlier city for both recreational and commuting bicyclists alike.

The City of Durham Transportation Department continues to take steps to improve bicycling conditions in the city. Last week, the department began installing the first bike “sharrows” on Chapel Hill Street between Kent Street and the bridge over N.C. Highway 147.

Bike sharrows, also called shared lane pavement markings, consist of a large chevron and bicycle symbol. The pavement markings are used to improve bicycling conditions on roads where bike lanes are desirable, but roads are too narrow to stripe bike lanes. 

Sharrows are a simple, visible indication that motorists and cyclists should share the travel lane. The markings reinforce safe cycling habits and can help reduce wrong-way bicycling. Cyclists should ride through the center of the sharrow to ensure safe positioning in the lane. Motorists are expected to slow down and wait for the cyclist to turn off the roadway or wait until they can pass the cyclist safely. The sharrows are located at regular intervals in both directions. View an image of the new sharrows, also available on the City’s website.

According to the City’s Transportation Department, sharrows are approved for installation on Lakewood Avenue, between Duke Street and Roxboro Road. Additional locations are recommended for sharrow installations in the Durham Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation Plan, which can be found on the City’s website. In the past few weeks, Duke University has also installed sharrow markings on several campus streets.

With its compact urban core and miles of scenic roads, Durham is evermore the place where great cycling happens.

Monday, December 19, 2011

DCVB to Host Second Family Reunion Workshop

At their most basic, family reunions present an opportunity to reconnect with relatives. A great family reunion will be remembered long after the event has come to a close and family members have returned to their respective homes. For those looking to host a great family reunion in Durham, NC, the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau is there to help.

The DCVB will host its second Family Reunion Workshop on Saturday, January 7, 2012 from 8am-1pm at the Marriott at Research Triangle Park.  The seminar is open to family reunion planners looking to Durham as the host city for future reunions.

The workshop includes breakfast and lunch, as well as opportunities for attendees to meet with vendors and attend instructional sessions. The workshop is free but requires advance registration.  Exhibitors will include Durham hotels, attractions, printing companies and more.  Those interested in exhibiting should contact DCVB.

In Summer 2011, family reunions brought over 5042 attendees and 1683 hotel room nights to Durham.  Since these figures represent just the reunions DCVB worked with, they are only a percentage of all reunions occurring in Durham, and their resulting economic impact is even greater.

As Durham's official marketing agency, DCVB works to get the destination on the list for consideration for visitation and meeting, and these seminars are part in parcel of the fulfillment of that role.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Annual Tribute Luncheon Theme Announced

Durham's Annual Tribute Luncheon is a celebration of an aspect of Durham's unique sense of place...and Durham has a lot to celebrate.

Durham's attributes are well covered by media, but this annual event is about digging deeper into understanding and appreciating how the place became that which it is...and this year's theme, Great Families Make Great Things Happen, will explore exactly that in a very complete way.

Years past have seen chefs, architects and civic leaders honored. This year the McKissick, Rand and Teer families will be honored for the contributions that generations of their families have made to Durham. Their roles in developing Durham—particularly as a visitor destination—have been long-lasting and significant.

Being held at Bay 7 on April 25th, 2012 at 11:30 AM, the luncheon is always an event to remember.  Tickets are on sale here and those with them will get to enjoy the event first hand and be part of one of Durham's great events at which to be seen every year.  Those interested in sponsoring the event can email for more information.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2010 Crime Comparative

It's official.  Durham's crime rate in 2010 was...average.

Here is some FBI data that shows Durham in relationship to its benchmark (peer) cities in the Southeast and in the U.S.  It's part of the 2010 Crime Comparative.

This report is not meant as an apology or an excuse.  It in no way suggests that Durham lessen the intensity of its law enforcement efforts.  In fact, there have been many community conversations recently that indicate we should consider increasing our efforts. 

This is simply a tool that is helpful for residents and non residents working in Durham-based businesses and organizations, who are often asked by newcomers and visitors, “Is Durham safe?”  Safety is a relative term that means something different to each individual, but this report gives the actual data that shows Durham’s crime is, well, average.

Over the past 10 years, Durham's crime rate has decreased by anywhere between 24 and 30%. The Durham Police Department has--and will continue to--work diligently with the community on a variety of programs to help drive the rate even lower.  

The Crime Comparative is compiled by DCVB on behalf of the Durham Public Information and Communications Council, a group of 18 organizations working together to facilitate news coverage that is balanced and accurate and to eliminate communication that is confusing or misleading.  The data is provided by the FBI through its Uniform Crime Report.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Semi Pro Hoops in Durham

Durham is a City of Champions in many sports, but most notable are the baseball and basketball wins - and most rabid are the basketball fans.  In sporting circles, Durham is Bull, Devil and Eagle country.  Well, it's time to add a new mascot to the menagerie - the Jaguar.

The Carolina Jaguars are a professional basketball team located in Durham who play their home games on several area courts including NCCU's McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium. Having not suffered any delays during the NBA lockout, their season is underway.  Currently their standing is 3-4 having most recently lost to the Lynchburg Legends 111-103.

The team has a strong community focus and most players are alumni of local schools.  Playing in the American Basketball Association's (ABA) Mid-Atlantic Conference, the team is part of a trio of Carolina teams including the Rocky Mount-based Cheetahs and the Greensboro-based Cougars.  Founded in 1967, the ABA merged with the NBA in 1976.  One of the most significant contributions the ABA has made is to help bring professional basketball to the college athletics dominated markets in the Southeastern US.

Jaguars tickets can be purchased online where their schedule can also be found.

Increased Demand Drives New Hotel Openings in Durham

Durham's hotel room inventory is on the rise.

Coming in January 2012, a new Hampton Inn & Suites at Gregson Street and I-85 will open adding 137 new rooms to the existing 7,644 rooms in Durham and becoming the 66th hotel here.  The hotel will feature a complimentary hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, state of the art fitness center and an indoor pool.

"Of course, all new hotel rooms open with their rooms empty, so marketing the destination is critical to fill these and other hotel rooms," said Shelly Green, DCVB President & CEO. Currently there are a total of nine lodging properties under development in Durham representing 1,462 rooms, which would bring the total rooms available to slightly more than 9,700 in 74 properties.

"Like most other destinations in the Southeast, additions to Durham's hotel supply have been somewhat slow the past two years during the recession," said Green.  "But as lodging demand increased, hotel developers remained very interested in Durham, particularly in and around Downtown Durham," Green added.

An inventory of all Durham lodging properties is available online, as is a detailed list of other hotel projects in the works. Overnight visitors to Durham spent $113.5 million in 2010, representing about 16% of all spending by visitors which totaled $704.7 million.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Durham Farmers' Market Weekly Report

Tomorrow the Durham Farmers' Market's WINTER HOURS begin!!  From this Saturday through the end of March, the Market will be every week from 10am to Noon - market will be open on Saturday Dec. 24th & Dec. 31st!  With the new winter hours notice that a few other things change, too.

First, the Market starts with the Opening Bell.  The bell will ring promptly at 10am. Vendors can start selling their goods when the bell rings, but not before.  Early window shopping is encouraged.

Second, during the winter all of the vendors are in the Pavilion (there may be some in the gravel to the north of the Pavilion).  There are no vendors in the street during the wintertime and the street is open -- except this week, see below.  Some vendors are in new spaces during the winter.  If you have any trouble finding your favorite vendors, go to the info table and they'll point you in the right direction.

Finally, because this is an all local Market, the selection of products is a little different in the winter.  Meats, eggs, cheeses and crafts will still be abundant, but the produce selection is different than the selection in the summer.  During the winter, look for lots of greens - cooking greens, salad greens, Asian greens, LOTS of greens; root vegetables - like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, radishes;  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel will be abundantly available in December and March;  special winter vegetables and vegetables that can be stored well, including winter squash, pumpkins, Jerusalem artichokes, dried herbs; and a few green house grown specialties like tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans! 
Eating locally, supporting farmers and the local economy means changing menus with the season.  Favorite winter recipes will be shared throughout the winter. 

Tomorrow, the Durham's Parks and Recreation Department will hold its first annual Holiday Fun Fest, the replacement for the Holiday Parade.  The Fun Fest will take place in Durham Central Park from 2-6pm.  In order to be ready to start the fun at 2pm, Parks & Rec will be working on setting up the Fun Fest during the Market hours.  They will be setting up in the other side of the park & in the street.

So, for tomorrow only, Foster Street will be CLOSED from Hunt to Corporation during Market hours.  The street closure will be exactly the same as it is during our regular summer hours.  After this week, Foster Street will be open every week while winter hours are in effect.

Fresh this Week....

Fruit: Asian Persimmons
Vegetables:   FENNEL! Asian Greens (Tatsoi, Bok Choy, Mizuna), Arugula,  Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Cress, Collards, Cucumbers, Dried Herbs, Dried Shiitakes, Garlic, Ginger, Green Onions,  Gourds,  Jerusalem Artichokes, Mustard Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Leeks, Peppers (sweet & hot), Potatoes,  Pumpkins, Radishes, Salad Mix, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes (red and green), Turnips, Turnip Greens, Vitamin Greens, Winter Squash (Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn)
Meats: Cornish Game Hens, Beef, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon, Lamb, Pork.  Look for whole cuts, sausages, hot dogs, jerky, liver pate and more!
Flowers & Plants: A few Anemones - come early!, Holiday Greenery and Wreaths, Landscaping Plants
And: Raw Honey, Pecans, Chicken and Duck Eggs, Flour, Yellow & White Cornmeal, Grits,  Wines, Fresh and Aged Goats and Cows Milk Cheeses, Baked Goods, Pasta, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Raw Wool,
Crafts: Jewelery, Yarn, Pottery, Hand-printed Cards, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Soaps and much more...

Research Triangle Park - As Vibrant as Ever

It doesn't take a lot of digging to realize that Research Triangle Park (RTP) is always growing and evolving as a great place for business to locate.  That it is the leading and largest high technology research and science park in North America, certainly doesn't hurt.

Many changes have taken place over the years, and quite a few of them have been recent, including the announcement of a new CEO, Bob Geolas, and several new companies and expansions in recent months.  The Research Triangle Foundation keeps an up to date site announcing all such activity.

Founded in 1959, this 7,000-acre, namesake for the entire Triangle region is two miles wide and eight miles long, based in Durham with an extension now spilling into Wake County toward Cary and Morrisville.  Most of the businesses and employees working in the park are in the Durham portion which contributes to the nearly 100,000 people who commute into Durham to work every day.

Just four miles from Downtown Durham and encompassed on three sides by the City of Durham, RTP was originally named for its affiliation with three major research universities: Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. This part of Durham is approximately equidistant between Raleigh and Chapel Hill.

Originally envisioned by UNC’s Howard W. Odum and fostered by the administration of Durham native Governor William Umstead, the Park was developed by the Research Triangle Foundation in 1959 and now includes over 170 companies, 42,000 full time employees, and 10,000 contract workers.
The three original universities are joined by Durham’s North Carolina Central University (located less than two miles from RTP) playing a major role as home to the Biomanufacturing Research Institute & Technology Enterprise (BRITE) Center for Excellence.

Today, RTP is surrounded by a variety of other Durham business and corporate parks populated by pharmaceutical, microelectronic, biotechnology, telecommunications, and textile businesses to name a few.  Research Triangle Park is not a city, but it has a special Durham postal substation—Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. It exists in a special county district, serviced by Durham utilities.

Start to Finish - Entrepreneurialism in Durham, NC

Imagine a community welcoming to people with ideas, passion and the desire to start a business; a place where when people hear the ideas of others they respond with “How can I help?” instead of “Good luck;” a place where even failure is ok as long as the road there is lined with integrity.
That place is Durham, NC.
Durham, a city with deep entrepreneurial roots, has been garnering national attention for its progressive and innovative nature for hundreds of years. Durham is home to Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest high-tech research and science park in North America.  In addition, Downtown Durham is home to over 60 startup companies employing more than 500 people.
The startup culture is hardly new. Durham has always been a hotbed of entrepreneurialism - the Great American Indian Trading Path ran through here; a route that was an early manifestation of entrepreneurial activity.  In the 1860s, Washington Duke started what grew into the mega-giant American Tobacco Company from pocket change.  Businesses like Durham-based Cree and Quintiles grew from a handful of employees 25 years ago to their current status as multinational companies with thousands of employees.   
More recently, in 2011, Durham was the first stop on the US Small Business Administration’s national tour of roundtable discussions called Startup America: Reducing Barriers. In other words, entrepreneurism is an essential part of Durham’s DNA. 
With the startup landscape flourishing in Durham, the future looks brighter every day.  An influx of small business incubators and accelerators has drawn entrepreneurs to Durham from around the world, all of whom have a dream and the drive to succeed.  Organizations like JoyStick Labs, LaunchBox Digital and Bull City Forward, to name a few. 
Much of the success of these small businesses can be traced to organizations and programs that help entrepreneurs thrive.  The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Durham Inc. have hosted The Bull City Start-up Stampede, a competitive initiative matching start-up companies with free office space and technical assistance.  CED, the regional council for entrepreneurial development located in Downtown Durham also provides entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and tools to start and grow their businesses.  
Duke University recently launched a major campus-wide initiative in innovation and entrepreneurship led by Kimberly Jenkins.  A Duke alumna, Jenkins’ resume includes working with Microsoft’s Bill Gates back when it was a start-up company, leading the marketing department for Steve Jobs at NeXT, as well as stints advising companies such as Sun, Oracle and Cisco.  This effort will help keep bright graduates close by and further expand the societal impact of Duke innovations. 
Turns out, Durham is also a great place to be to work on stepping away from a business that has grown to great success, too.  Two of Durham’s entrepreneurs, Jess Eberdt and Doug Townsend, did exactly this and maneuvered away from the daily operations of their hugely successful business Parata Systems.  They started Tempus Durham, a firm that helps successful entrepreneurs do exactly as they have done, devise an exit strategy from a successful business to have freedom to pursue other things. 
Durham has myriad stories of dreams that became ideas that became realities that grew into great successes.  It’s really a city to be reckoned with when it comes to starting a business, routinely being named in the same breath as Silicon Valley.
Considering that more than 80% of relocating executives visit a location first before deciding to move their companies, the success of Durham as a visitor destination can only further encourage the natural evolution and current momentum that made Durham such a highly sought-after business climates in the U.S.