Memo for fiscal year 2017, updated 2016-04-05

[Archived] What MGM report initiatives were included in the proposed budget?

To prepare for the MGM National Harbor resort opening in late 2016 or early 2017, the City Manager asked Visit Alexandria to convene a task force to assess the opportunities and risks of this new regional attraction and draft recommendations to respond to it. 

The Task Force delivered draft recommendations in a preliminary report to the City Manager in January. The City Manager considered those recommendations in light of other City obligations and projected revenues for FY 2017, and advanced the following initiatives by including them in the proposed FY 2017 Budget:

1) Wayfinding:

Enhance signage and wayfinding to assist visitors with identifying off-street parking options in Old Town. Ensure international travel symbols are fully integrated into City’s signage and wayfinding plan. Of the total CIP plan for wayfinding, $400K is budgeted in FY 2017 and $515K in FY 2018. 

Cost: $200,000 additional funding in FY 2017

2) Retail Training:

Following a similar model to that implemented effectively during the National Harbor opening in 2008, implement front-line staff training for retail, hotels, restaurants and attractions that promotes extraordinary customer service, strategic business practice and local area knowledge. The Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC), in coordination with Visit Alexandria, will execute the training by bringing in highly-regarded industry experts to conduct workshops and training programs. Attendees at those sessions will complete evaluation forms that rate the presentations and presenters; and will ask attendees about likelihood of attending other SBDC events. The Alexandria SBDC currently uses this program evaluation method with the following 2015 program evaluation resulting in 448 of 451 attendees gave the programs the highest ratings.

In addition to Retail and Restaurant-specific training programs, individual in-store visits by expert presenters will be included as part of these efforts. Businesses that receive those visits become SBDC clients and, like all of the SBDC’s clients, are surveyed at the end of every year to collect their increases in Sales, Jobs Created and Capital Raised. These metrics are presented annually to gauge the impact of the SBDC’s assistance, and efforts will be made to calculate the specific impact of these new efforts.

Cost: $10,000 

3) International Trade Shows:

Coordinate with the MGM sales team to attend international trade shows such as IPW and World Travel Market as part of Capital Region USA consortium to raise visibility of the Alexandria-National Harbor area. Develop and distribute collateral material for tour operators. Other than design and printing of collateral, there is little new activity or cost associated with this project—simply coordination of existing efforts to raise visibility and credibility as a combined destination.

Cost: $5,000 

4) Marina Refresh:

Recognizing that the marina will be the gateway for many MGM visitors to Alexandria, this location represents the critical first impression of our community, and is our highest aesthetic priority. Funding would provide new welcome signage, ongoing cleaning of waterfront garbage and debris, and enhanced seating.

Cost: $45,000

5) Public Programming:

Develop a coordinated program of performing arts for the waterfront. This would include: paid performers, curated buskers, public art, historical tours and re-enactments.

Cost: $30,000  

6) Tree Wells:

Funding would support plantings and maintenance of trees along King Street for consistent presence and maintenance for the one mile stretch from the King Street Metro to the Waterfront. The King Street Metro is another gateway to Alexandria, so beautification along King Street is key to a positive first impression and maximizing revenue capture for restaurants and retail in this corridor. This is part of an overall area tree initiative indicated in the FY 2017 budget.

7) Jobs for City Residents:

While there was money recommended in the task force report for a job fair ($20,000) it was concluded that existing collaboration between MGM and the City’s Workforce Development Center would be more than adequate in addressing the job issue.

The total cost of the MGM Task Force specific recommendations included in the City Manager’s Proposed FY 2017 budget is $290,000 ($90,000 in the FY 2017 Operating Budget and $200,000 in the FY 2017 CIP), excluding the tree planting initiative. 

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