October 5, 2013

Main Street seeks new businesses for downtown

The Express-Star


With the holidays approaching and a little more than six months under his belt, Chickasha Main Street Director Andrew Ford is ready to make some changes. 

Over the Summer Ford, in conjunction with volunteers and organizations in the city painted several buildings in an effort to beautify Chickasha's downtown. 

Now that this project is coming to a close, Ford is focusing on empty square spaces on the sidewalk that once contained trees. Ford plans to liven up the streets with some brush that doesn't require a lot of attention. Ford said he plans to place these plants along the entire downtown portion of Chickasha Avenue. Despite the obvious aesthetic improvement, this is only a stepping stone in Ford's overall goal; bringing more retail and restaurants to downtown. 

"Things are really starting to move in the direction I want them to go and a vibrant downtown is good for the entire community," said Ford. 

Working with the Chickasha Economic Development Council, Ford said he has several irons in the fire that could cool in the shape of more revenue for the city. 

"This has been my main goal since taking this position," he said.

Economic Development Council President Christy Elkins said she is working diligently to bring retail back to the downtown area. 

"We know Bistro Lorene wants to move downtown," she said. "They don't have any set plans, but that's definitely something on the horizon. 

Elkins said funding is a major issue when it comes to bringing new tenants to Main Street. She said many of the buildings need remodeling, which slows the process. 

"There are a lot of people looking at what we can do to make these projects work and determine what the needs are," she said.   

With about 85 members, Ford said the future is bright for Main Street and he expects many more to join before too long. 

"We have Neewollah coming up and I plan to have banners with sponsors names on the side of the streets, or hanging across the streets," he said. 

Such action should result in more business for said sponsors, according to Ford.

As is the case with any organization, some members of Main Street have expressed misgivings over what is done with their membership money. Ford said all membership dollars go to Main Street's operating budget and he is happy to discuss such issues with concerned members. 

"They can come in and talk to me anytime they want," said Ford. "I'd love to discuss where the money is going." 

Regardless of what companies open shop in downtown, Ford will be busy for the next few months with festivals and parades on Main Street.