Metro begins promoting Mesa shops as light rail construction nears - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Metro begins promoting Mesa shops as light rail construction nears

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Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 4:05 pm

It will be more than a month before crews are on Main Street to build the Metro extension to downtown Mesa, but a marketing campaign has begun to steer customers to the roughly 300 businesses that will be affected by light rail construction.

Metro has launched a discount card that’s an early part of promoting deals and events that are planned until the 3.1-mile extension is scheduled to open in 2015.

The transit agency has been working with businesses and nonprofits in the area to make the best of disruption during the $200 million project, Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said.

“All of these kinds of things are happening prior to construction, which is important to get people really prepared for construction, to get their businesses set up for it,” she said.

A key part of the marketing campaign is a Metro Max Rewards card that the public can get for free, and then use for discounts. About 100 merchants have agreed to be part of the campaign and more could come on board. Metro doesn’t have any minimum requirements for what kind of discounts or specials are offered. The card is available at http://evtnow.com/mesashops.

Customers who don’t sign up for the card can also use a transit pass to qualify for the Metro Max deals.

The Max Rewards promotion is based on the campaign Metro had for the original 20-mile segment that opened in 2008. Foose said some businesses have continued to offer the same discounts they first promoted with the card during construction.

For the Mesa extension, Metro anticipates some changes. It is exploring a smart phone application. It’s also working with Local First Arizona to promote shopping at independent stores, as part of a trend that’s developed since the original segment opened.

And Metro plans to have more events when various elements of the transit system get underway or are completed.

“We’re really going to try to celebrate the smaller scale milestones to keep the attention on the project and the attention on the businesses,” Foose said.

Metro will work on marketing with nonprofits that serve the west Mesa and downtown area, including the Downtown Mesa Association. DMA Executive Director David Short welcomes Metro’s campaign but said the organization’s existing efforts are as important as ever.

“Construction is just a fact of life. It’s going to happen,” he said. “Our mentality is to keep going with all the great things that are currently going on.”

The construction schedule is still being finalized, so it’s not clear yet how much or when Main Street events could be disrupted. Downtown businesses will be promoting back doors on their buildings so visitors can avoid construction on Main, but Short said the DMA doesn’t want to shun Main Street.

He wants to keep events like Motorcycles on Main in their normal places.

“We’re going to use Main as much as possible,” he said. “Our goal with the events is to keep them near the businesses and near the buildings so people can enjoy the shops and restaurants that are open.”

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