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Wayne DDA: The year 2023 in review

The City of Wayne joined Chef Curtis, the owner of Taste the Smoke, his team and family for an official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony last month. (Pictured) Councilman Eric Cleereman, Councilman Alfred Brock, Mayor John Rhaesa, Chef Curtis, Michael Sloan, Councilman Kevin Dowd, Councilwoman Deb Wass, Community Development and DDA Director, Lori Gouin, Building and Engineering Director, Mike Buiten, and Planning Commissioner Don Quarles. Photo by Lisa Nocerini

By Sarah Shurge – Throughout the year, the City Wayne Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has partnered with many businesses and sponsored many events for the City of Wayne.
As the year comes to an end, it’s important to bring the DDA’s involvement into the spotlight and give them the recognition they truly deserve.
The DDA has many purposes, some of which are to correct and prevent deterioration of business districts, promote economic growth and revitalization, and to encourage historic preservation. The goal is to bring business into the City of Wayne and do it in a fun and exciting way for the public.
The DDA Administration and Board of Directors consists of various business owners that own or operate business within the DDA district.
In 2021, the DDA hired Lisa Kubany to serve as the Marketing and Events Director.
“From the time she started to now, older events have gotten bigger and better and new events have been successful right out of the gate,” said Lori Gouin, DDA Director. “Without her, we would not have what we have.”
Kubany plays a huge role in one of the annual events the City of Wayne always looks forward to: Cruisin’ US12.
The 17th annual US12 Car Cruise added pit stops throughout Downtown Wayne for the third year in a row. The pit stops included food trucks, activities, and entertainment. The DDA served as a partner with the businesses to help with the organization of all the extra activities.
“It went really well,” said Gouin. “It grew this year and will continue to grow with more participation from groups and organizations.”
Another huge event the DDA was involved with was Movie Night Under the Stars in Goudy Park. The new event was so successful last year, the DDA added a second movie night this year.
The movie night in June had a demonstration from Kicks Tae Kwon Do and a live dog show performance by K9 Star Productions. The movie night in August was the Back-to-School Party with a backpack giveaway.
“It was incredible. Multiple businesses donated backpacks. We gave away a record number of backpacks at the second movie night – double the number of backpacks as last year”, said Gouin.
Something you have to experience in Downtown Wayne are the Concerts at Goudy Park in August. The free summer concerts are made possible through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Wayne.
“We had to overcome major obstacles this year but the Rotary pulled it off. We received more positive feedback this year than any other year before. People love the new layout,” said Gouin. “We [the DDA] can’t take credit for this because it’s all on them [the Rotary].”
The DDA has continued its relationship with the Knights of Columbus Notre Dame Council 3021. The Knights have hosted the Open-Air Christmas Market event for the past three years and the DDA has proudly sponsored this event each year.
The “Small Business Saturday” event at the Makers Market drew in over 100 people. The annual Passport Program kicked off on Small Business Saturday in November and the DDA also hosted the Gold Box giveaway in December.
The DDA also continues to collaborate with the Wayne Historical Society and sponsored the annual Holiday Night at the Museum. The event has grown every year and become much more than just a tree lighting and seeing Santa.
“Despite the rain, which stopped just in time for the parade, there was a great turnout,” said Gouin. “Over 700 toys were donated, so every child there received a toy, and Hillcrest provided us with a wonderful fireworks display.”
The Russo family donated a new Christmas tree in honor and memory of their late father, Jack Russo.
“It’s really awesome that businesses that normally don’t get involved in community events are now getting involved,” said Gouin. “Businesses are seeing the benefits of sponsoring events on a marketing level.”
The DDA held a networking event for businesses in November. This event is where businesses come together to network and learn about programs and incentives available through the DDA. Attendance for the event was double the attendance from last year.
The DDA continued to host annual events such as Egg-cellent Adventure in March, the annual Mother’s Day Event in May saw record attendance, along with Wednesdays in Wayne Food Truck Experience in May and June.
In April, the DDA added a new event, Restaurant Week. This was a way to showcase restaurants in the city. Some restaurants even had special menus available.
“It went pretty well and exposed people to somewhere they may not have gone before,” said Gouin.
The DDA is proud to announce that Flowers in the Mitten took over Makers Market in February.
Twenty businesses in 2023 submitted zoning applications: Midnight Masterworks, Chicken and Fish Market, F&R Automotive, Moonlit Mystic’s Magic Realm, Chrome Studio, Above and Beyond Urgent Care, Faris Retail Appliances, M&S Commercial Windows, Puff Zone of Wayne, Big Mikes 2, Broomz, Wayne Market LLC, Alberts Home Furnishing ANNEX, Agape Creations, My Place, SD Maintenance, Lady DI’s House of Soul Food, RV Land, Tsolorry Auto Care, and Imperial Press.
The City of Wayne celebrated grand openings for Snazzy Treats and Eats, Wayne Chicken and Fish, and Moonlit Mystic Magic Realm.
The Facade Improvement Grant was used again in 2023 and six businesses took advantage of the grant for either a new awning, signage, or doors.

“I need to give a special shout out to our Administrative Assistant, Cathy,” said Gouin. “We’re blessed to have her.”

Cathy Broge has been a long-time city employee but started the Administrative Assistant role in July and provides support and assistance to Gouin and Kubany with planning events.

Thank you to the DDA and everything they do for our city!

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