For more than three hours Thursday evening, a few dozen members of the Denison Main Street community gathered to share their ideas for downtown’s future.
“It is all about you, and talking about what you want to do with your program,” said Texas Main Street Program Coordinator Debra Farst, who served as facilitator for the planning session.
Those who attended ranged from downtown business and property owners to loft residents and Main Street shoppers. “Everybody should have a voice tonight,” Farst said. “Everybody should feel free to say what needs to be said.”
Attendees discussed a number of specific areas, but much of the conversation centered around the need for better communication and planning.
Participants highlighted the need for better communication among downtown businesses and stakeholders and with those outside the downtown community. There seemed to be a consensus among them that better communication was needed to change the perception among business owners and shoppers that Denison’s Main Street is viable.
“The people who are in this room right here that have a business on Main Street are the positive people on Main Street. The ones who are not here are not (positive),” said one participant. “It’s our job to change the attitude of these people, because if they don’t change their attitudes, people are not going to want to come on our Main Street.”
One business owner new to the area told the group a story about having another Main Street business owner visit her shop. She said the visitor looked around her store and told her she “wasn’t going to be here very long.” It was that type of attitude that participants seem to be keying in on as representative of the perception problem.
The other primary subject of much of Thursday’s conversation was about a focused business recruitment and retention plan. Farst told the group that a good first step toward that is a marketing survey to determine exactly what kind of businesses the community wants.
Farst will develop a written plan for Denison Main Street and the process of developing more specific action items and determining who will be responsible for them will move from there.