(This is a repost in honor of the Tennessee Downtowns Celebration held downtown just recently at The Gap @ Olivia’s Opera House.)
”What’s in it for me? I don’t have a business down there.”
“Money is being spent to install new sidewalks and lighting. How does that help my business?
“How does all this effort going into the downtown business district help my business outside of downtown?”
Admit it, if you don’t work in or own a business downtown these may be some of your thoughts as the City of Martin continues to push forward in revitalizing our downtown business district. All of the efforts of past downtown projects and now the launch of the city’s involvement in Tennessee Downtowns, a revitalization program operated under the principles of the successful Main Street ® program, raises questions. Of course it does. It is change. Someone will benefit. Who will it be?
The answer is: All of us.
When you describe Martin to others outside our area, do you include a glowing recommendation to visit our downtown area for shopping, eating, business services and entertainment?
Do you include downtown Martin as part of your stops when you are holiday or back-to-school shopping or simply looking for a birthday party gift for your child?
Do you consider downtown Martin as one of the places to go when you bring guests or family members into town on the weekends?
Answer these questions, and ask yourself if you are actively supporting what is happening downtown right now to help it grow? Are you willing, but unsure of how you can help?
You may have read in the newspaper, recently, that Martin was one of ten TN towns selected for the Tennessee Downtowns grant. Yesterday was the first planning session, and the steering committee and the coordinators involved with Tennessee Downtowns met in the conference room of Office Products.
My main take-away from this meeting was that comprehensive revitalization takes time. We should begin our endeavor by taking “baby steps,” as one of the coordinators described it and questioning what we like about our downtown. So, I am asking you to help with the homework. Take a look at what downtown means to you. Find the positive qualities of our downtown, and focus there for now.
Here’s how you can join in. A suggestion was made for the steering committee to complete a list of The 100 Things You Can Find In Downtown Martin. There is now a list growing on Facebook on the Historic Martin page. If you aren’t a friend, join and add to the list. Start the process and get involved. Visit our downtown area. If you aren’t satisfied with what you see, think about where your skills and interests may help bring change. And if you aren’t on Facebook, you can email me your suggestions, and I’ll add them in. Email 100Things@lesliehaywood-moore.com or add as a comment to this post.
A vibrant downtown is a drawing point, a source of pride, a centralized location representing the very heart and soul of a town. And revitalization efforts are not just for the people who own and operate businesses downtown. My business location isn’t downtown, yet I want downtown Martin to continue its efforts in growing as the center of our community more than it already is. The results affect my business and my quality of life in Martin, TN.
As a Realtor®, my perspective is that a healthy downtown brings life to a community. A vibrant downtown is a tremendous selling point and attraction for newcomers whether they will be working with existing business or bringing a business to town. (Follow the progress of a new business now in downtown Martin on their Facebook page, The Looking Glass Coffee & Curiosities. )
Plus, an increase in successful businesses downtown can increase revenues to our city and contribute to a healthier economic condition. Remember, new businesses provide an upswing in opportunities for the many people who provide goods and services to Martin residents. The more people pulled to Martin to work, or to open new businesses or to visit means increased needs for housing, food, entertainment, lodging, shopping, and the list goes on and on.
2) Additionally, the renovation of existing streetscapes is an investment in the physical elements of our city and adds to the beauty and charm of our area. Spending money to upgrade our town in this manner makes sense. A well-kept and appealing downtown area only boosts the attraction quality of Martin to others.
As a long-time Martin resident, my perspective is that I want a vibrant downtown filled with shops, businesses and restaurants that offers me and my family ample, in-town opportunities for entertainment and business. How many of us travel to other towns and cities in Tennessee and end up in the downtown area due to the variety of businesses, shops, restaurants, entertainment outlets, art and music fairs, special events and more—all in one central location?
My wish for our downtown? I see a place where people fall in love with our own unique Martin downtown. I want visitors to ooh and ahh when they go home and describe the excitement and life they saw in our business district. Think about a downtown you have visited in the past year or so. Have you ever described for someone what you loved about the area? I always talk about Paducah’s downtown with its brick-street alleys and antique shops, its restaurants and Kirchhoff’s deli-bakery–a have-to stop on every trip.
(P.S. Another thought for those of us who have businesses located outside the downtown business district and wonder how all the attention to downtown helps them. My experience has been that Paducah’s downtown may be the attraction for me, but I’ve become acquainted with the town because of my trips there and have found other shops, restaurants and activities outside of downtown where I also spend my money and time.)
The point is there are towns all over the nation where people started out small with big ideas toward enhancing their downtown area. I believe Martin is a part of this forward-thinking group.
The amount of work already done to downtown has infused energy and excitement to the area. I offer kudos and a big thank you to everyone who has worked to bring new life to our downtown. My family has enjoyed the benefits from the existing businesses downtown and the positive effects of a new downtown look, a new restaurant, a new arts facility and several businesses that have entered the scene over the years.
The first step is to change how we all look at our involvement in supporting additional downtown revitalization efforts. These are my personal observations as a business owner and resident of Martin. Will you join me in helping to promote growth downtown by taking a small baby step and help build our list of The 100 Things You Can Find in Downtown Martin?