I met Olivia in person earlier this year as I needed to coordinate with her for a series of events that I am producing in Franklin Alley in downtown Troy and wanted to coordinate with the BID. Personable and energized, I was excited about doing some joint promotion with her. Then came Troy’s first annual TROY PRIDE event, a new programmatic initiative that Olivia spearheaded with downtown business owners. The streets were packed, so many folks from Albany and around the region! I realized I needed to get a better understanding of what makes this capable woman tick.
Please state your name, title and organization. What are you responsible for and what is a typical day for you on the job.
My name is Olivia Clemente, Executive Director of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District. I am responsible for the overall administration, financial management, and day-to-day activities of the BID, but in a more simple terms I work for the people who live in Downtown Troy and the businesses that reside here. I work to help bring people to our downtown and explore all of the businesses and experience what we have to offer. If I’m not busy in event planning mode, I spend most of my days visiting Downtown Troy establishments, speaking to them about what makes them unique, how long they’ve been serving the community and what they would like to see in Downtown. I always like to ask, “What would make a difference? What do you want to see happen in this area.” I try my best to listen to everyone and make their suggestions and ideas a reality, whether it’s an event, block party or a new marketing campaign, I’ll always say “I can try!”
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be in this position? In addition to working with a lot of creative talent as an event producer, how do you keep your creativity alive?
I’ve been in a lot of different industries since I was in college. I received a BA from Manhattan College and stayed in the city after I graduated, I spent about five years in Manhattan and worked in public relations, ad sales, events and political fundraising, I like to think I’m well versed in the changing media around us. I spent time as an intern at the Bronx Zoo with the Wildlife Conservation Society as their events intern, worked as an Ad Sales Admin at a start-up for mobile apps, went to a high-profile PR firm and my last hoorah in NYC – NBC Universal where I worked on public relations and social media for an ecommerce division of the Golf Channel.
I moved back to Upstate New York in 2019, and I decided to take a dive into the political world, I worked for the NYS Assembly where I started as a Press Coordinator for three downstate members and then I moved onto handling fundraising and events for the minority conference, I developed more fundraising initiatives for the conference turning a focus on the different regions of NYS and creating fundraisers that were more creative than your regular cocktail hour, I always try to make experiences fun for everyone involved and have them looking forward to the next one.
I joined the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District in 2021 as the Director of Events and Partnerships. My first month on the job I was tasked with getting events that had been stalled due to COVID-19 back up and running, it wasn’t a small task to take on, but I managed to bring back Riverfest, Rockin on the River and Chowderfest. I went into 2023 taking over the Executive Director position of the BID. My main focus was to continue to hold “OG events” like the aforementioned in addition to retooling our popular Pig Out event. Additionally, I initiated additional events including the Hot Chocolate Stroll, Pride Night Out, Collar City Pop and a College Student Focused Block Party. I always have more up my sleeve, but for right now I’m working on getting people back to Downtown Troy.
When it comes to events or marketing I would definitely say I have a more creative approach to taking things on, I am always asking businesses or people in the community what they would like to see and then I begin to think like a consumer, so I try to think, “Would I want to see this at an event? Would this make me want to come back to visit? Is this appealing to me or people I know?”
Troy has a lot of creative economy businesses and arts / cultural organizations. How do you take advantage of the creativity of these downtown partners to raise awareness about how cool downtown Troy is?
Last year I worked with the Arts Center of the Capital Region during their exhibit ‘Troy Glo.’ We decided to bring business and art together by putting together a “bar crawl” that would get people to visit our downtown businesses. The BID created the bar crawl map to guarantee you walked past every installation of the ‘Troy Glo‘ project. Having an art pop-ups like this in our downtown is important to me as they can provide additional traffic to our businesses while creating quality of life for residents and out of town guests alike. People want to walk around and see art and as they’re walking around they can pop into a retail shop or a coffee shop and I love that.
I know another big thing for me right now is using our local artists that live in Downtown Troy to develop our marketing collateral for downtown events. I’ve currently worked with four Downtown Troy artists: to develop our Collar City Pop invites, Hot Chocolate Stroll poster, Pride Night Out and Pig Out collateral. All of the artist have been Troy natives and they are all so talented. I give them a lot of freedom in the design process. I’m going to continue using artists that live in Troy since this is an economy I care about.
What are your current goals in the job, things you would like to do with it?
I have a lot of goals, I know an ‘Adopt-a-Block’ is on my plate of goals to accomplish, I’d love to work to do clean-ups block-by-block downtown and work with other organizations and businesses in Downtown Troy to make a difference, even if I clean one wall of graffiti tags, fix one store window, or work to get a beautiful piece of art on the side of a building, I’ll feel accomplished in my role of getting the community engaged in quality-of-life. Currently, this program is being implemented for 2024, so stay tuned for more information!
For things I am currently working on, I am hunkered down on bringing more tourism to Troy and making our downtown the place to visit. I can share we are currently working on creating better walking guides for the community that will showcase an easy to read map, a list of our businesses, a historical walking tour and a public art guide, all of this is currently in production and should be ready before the holiday season.
Anything coming up that you are especially excited about or want to share with our readers?
We have a heavy event schedule coming up. Pig Out returns on Sunday July 16. Our Rockin on the River series starts Wednesday June 28 and running every other Wednesday until August 9th, for the first time ever, we are putting together our very own College Block Party on Sunday, September 10 to welcome the students of RPI, Russell Sage and Hudson Valley Community College back to Downtown Troy. We are working to showcase to the students what the downtown has to offer while also having each school’s student organizations pop-up around downtown’s Monument Square to pass information out to friends, family and new students. It’s the downtown’s way of showing their love for the students who live and play here too!
Downtown Troy is on the rise, we have so much going on from new businesses, new public art programming and housing options, I’d say Troy is the place to be right now and it’s time everyone schedules a visit!