Summer Festivals Boosting Business in Downtown Syracuse Summer Festivals Boosting Business in Downtown Syracuse

Syracuse business owners believe this is the busiest they've been since COVID.

ANCHOR (Kalia Bulter): Business owners in downtown Syracuse appreciate the increased amount of events during tourist season. NCC’s Griffin Della Penna is live on the scene reporting the economic impact of these local festivals.

DELLA PENNA: Communications Associate Vanessa Szwejbka works directly with 240 storefront businesses in the downtown area. Last week’s arts and crafts festival was one of the most popular ever, drawing over 40 thousand visitors. More people means more money for the businesses nearby.

SZWEJBKA: That’s people coming down and exploring the festival and then maybe going out to a restaurant or doing some shopping, which is our goal.

DELLA PENNA: Business leaders are making up for some of their losses during the COVID-19 pandemic with the increase in revenue.

SZWEJBKA: They’ve expressed that they’re happy with the traffic and it does feel like those pre-pandemic days, which is good to hear.

DELLA PENNA: Szwejbka and her team believe the additions of QR codes and increased signage throughout downtown have promoted local businesses better than ever before.

SZWEJBKA: That’s probably the biggest thing and we’ve noticed that’s a direct link to people actually scooting out of those festival areas and exploring the broader area.

DELLA PENNA: Even though summer is coming to a close, make sure to visit the downtown farmers market at Clinton Square every Tuesday from eight to two until October 10th. Live on West Genesee Street, Griffin Della Penna, NCC News.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Local businesses in the heart of Syracuse have seen an influx of customers throughout the summer months due to the city’s initiative of revitalizing the downtown area.

Downtown Syracuse Communications Associate Vanessa Szwejbka is the main contact for all 240 businesses located in her district. Businesses range from restaurants to coffee shops and everything in between. Regardless of what goods the sell or services they provide all of the businesses have seen an increase in revenue during tourism season.

Need more proof? The Syracuse Arts and Crafts festival is one of the most popular events of the year because of the number of visitors that travel into downtown. In its 52nd year, the festival brought in over 40,000 tourists and central New Yorkers, the highest attendance rate in Szwejbka’s tenure.

“So, it really does draw a lot of people that maybe don’t necessarily come downtown every day or very often. Festivals like that help get people here. They’re parked and then they decide, ‘okay, let’s explore the city at large,” Szwejbka said.

Once these individuals are downtown, the chances of them staying to explore increases. However, if they aren’t aware of the new and fun things to do in downtown Syracuse then you lose a chunk of that potential customer base.

That’s why Szwejbka and her team implemented more signage at events that promotes all of the nearby businesses. It’s a symbiotic relationship between downtown pop-up events and physical brick and mortar locations. The more customers one receives only means money generated for the other.

“We implemented signage at our farmers market that says, ‘Are you a foodie?’ The signs have a QR code where you scan and all of the restaurants that are footsteps away from this particular area will pop up,” Szwejbka said.


Increased signage in an effort to attract visitors to explore the downtown area.
Increased signage in an effort to attract visitors to explore the downtown area.
© 2023 Griffin Della Penna

It makes sense that foot traffic would be higher during the summertime in comparison to the winter months. But how does the Downtown Committee Syracuse plan on sustaining that growth throughout the rest of 2023? That’s one of the toughest tasks for Szwejbka is to brainstorm fresh ways to continue engagement in the area even when the weather gets worse.

“One of the new ways that we’ve been testing is by linking promotions and marketing together to try to help the businesses because it’s easier for businesses to stand together than one individual business trying to capture an audience outside of downtown,” Szwejbka said.

A promotion that received positive feedback from business owners was “Downtown Dining Weeks,” earlier this year. Restaurants partner with one other during the slower months by offering deals so customers can receive three different courses for under $30.

The Downtown Committee of Syracuse will host their annual progress breakfast in the fall that all 240 businesses are able to attend to voice their ideas or concerns. In the past, this event has been a valuable tool to get a pulse for what owners are looking for.

“We talk about all the new projects that are taking place in the new financial year just kind of getting people excited about new projects and new restaurants and businesses opening so that people can kind of keep investing and have the energy to invest in downtown,” Szwejbka said.

While the weather is still nice in “The Salt City,” make sure to visit the downtown farmers market at Clinton Square every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until October 10th on West Genesee St.

Related Articles