Downtown Hays Development Corp. has many functions. We are a very active 501(c)3 who, when we put our minds to something, make it happen. This can been seen in the many events we organize, the completion of the Downtown Pavilion, and our commitment to building relationships not only in downtown but throughout the Hays community. But beyond the downtown pavilion, there’s not a lot that people see us “developing.” It’s even been suggested we take “development” out of our name. I want to take this time to tell you how I define development and how we accomplish it. It’s through incredible partnerships and collaboration.

DHDC does so much behind the scenes and we often forget to tell people about it. We have created business Facebook pages, given social media tips and tricks, designed eye-catching flyers, promoted events and ticket sales even if they’re not ours, we sit on several event and marketing committees to offer whatever support and ideas they might need, and the list goes on.

To me, development doesn’t just mean building or renovating anymore. It means developing an organization’s effectiveness and viability. Creating learning opportunities that can enhance the quality of leadership within an individual or organization. Initiating conversations that can affect how a situation is handled or seen or give someone the opportunity to share their secrets for success.

Creating these partnerships helps strengthen businesses, organizations, DHDC, and our community as a whole. It allows us all to grow and expand in a way that would have been impossible on our own.

Here are just some of partnerships DHDC already has created in 2018.

• Hays Arts Council: The seasonal arts walks hosted by the Hays Arts Council are known throughout the state. Wonderful pieces of art are showcased during each one. The Arts Council serves as the “hub” for these events as they always have a stunning exhibit or contest to display. DHDC is excited to act almost as a second hub during each of this year’s walks. We will be providing information about our community as well as highlighting performing arts group under the new downtown pavilion. The Spring Art Walk this Friday will be our inaugural event. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., enjoy live jazz with the FHSU Jazz Ensemble (directed by Brad Dawson) followed by the well known trio of Dawson, Luke Johnson and Ken Windholz.

• Hays Symphony Orchestra: DHDC is a proud sponsor of the Hays Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has been providing remarkable performances to our community for over 100 years and is the longest continuously running orchestra in the state of Kansas. Thanks to generous donors, all performances are free to attend and offer a beautiful reception after the concerts. This is the second year DHDC has been the grand finale reception sponsor. This concert can be enjoyed at 7:30 this Saturday night at the Beach-Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

DHDC also is partnering with the Hays Symphony Orchestra to bring you “Bach’s Lunch on the Bricks!” This will be a summer music series at the Downtown Pavilion. It will take place the first and third Thursdays of June, July and August. Box lunches will be available for purchase or bring your own. Just make sure you get downtown to enjoy live music over your lunch hour.

• Hays Area Chamber of Commerce: Each year at the annual Golf Tournament the Chamber staff also offers a “patio party” for non-golfers like myself to enjoy. This year the party theme is “The Bricks on the Green.” The Blue Heron Boutique, Lilly and Marie, Simply Charmed and Refine are working with DHDC to bring downtown to the golf course for the day. Swag bags, door prizes, fashion shows and more will all be enjoyed May 4. The chamber can be contacted for tickets.

• United Way of Ellis County: I not only have the pleasure of sitting on their marketing committee but look forward to working with them on their 2019 campaign kick-off this summer. DHDC will help organize a children’s cook-off so watch for that announcement soon!

• Bethesda Place: Discussions are underway to create a market to farm fun run or walk. The location of the Downtown Hays Market is exactly 4 miles from the Bethesda farm. Participants will enjoy a free homemade breakfast and farm tours once they arrive and a shuttle will take them back to the start once they are finished enjoying and exploring. Again, watch for the announcement coming soon!

• Big Brothers Big Sisters: There are a number of great 501(c)3 organizations in downtown Hays and we work hard to support them in any way we can. This year DHDC is excited to be a lane sponsor for the BBBS Bowl for Kid’s Sake event. This event is Wednesday. Contact the BBBS office for more details on how to get involved.

• Relay for Life: I am thankful to be involved in this year’s Relay for Life event. Sitting on this committee and hearing the passion the others in the room share to make this a successful event is inspiring. We have all been touched by cancer. The research that this event funds is life-changing. Someone on the committee stressed to me, just because the money doesn’t stay local, doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect locally. If a cure is found, it will effect everyone. So true. The relay this year is called “Light up the Bricks” and it will take place in the downtown pavilion on June 1 from 7 p.m. to midnight. To sponsor this event or purchase a luminary please call (785) 623-1971.

There’s always a lot going on in Downtown and DHDC is always looking to create partnerships and in turn, opportunity. To keep up to date on what we have going on, make sure you bookmark www.DowntownHays.com or follow us on social media, @downtownhays.

Sara Bloom is executive director of the Downtown Hays Development Corp.