This article was shared with me via email this morning and was composed by Small Business Survival.  More information about Small Business Survival can be found at www.smallbizsurvival.com.

After reading the full article I have to stay that the Downtown Excelsior Partnership is on a great path toward our downtown revitalization.  It was not too many years ago that Downtown Excelsior Springs was extremely blighted with a vacancy rate through the roof.  Because of the hard work of DEP volunteers during the last 11 years we have worked extremely hard to turn that blighted community into a thriving business district that has become the central mecca of our community for all things fun.  We are extremely honored that our wonderful downtown is chosen by many organizations to host nearly 100 days of community events.  We are also extremely fortunate to currently have investors in our community that are making major improvements to not only our commercial shopping district, but the surrounding residential areas too.  Everyone is truly started to see the value of Downtown Excelsior Springs, I hope you are too.

Small Business Revival Article

“I’m often asked why I focus on downtown revitalization so much.  The three most common areas in rural areas that we hear need to be addressed are workforce, housing and leadership.  How does downtown revitalization fit into that picture?

You downtown is the heart of your city.  It’s the one place that everyone can identify with and claim ownership to.  The buildings downtown tell our histories and encompass the memories of its people.  The parades, the celebrations, the get togethers are generally held downtown and what people remember.

Andy Kitsinger, principal at The Development Studio says, ‘In most cases downtowns serve as the engine for local economies.  However, downtowns are much more than profit center to cities.  They also represent the image and character of a city to the rest of the world.  Downtowns are unique in that they are typically the only neighborhood that belongs to and is shared by everyone in the region.’

For local industry to attract workforce to the area, they will want to showcase the quality of life in the community.  Schools, parks and an active downtown really matter to people whoa re looking to move to your area.  It’s believed that if you can’t take care of the face of your community (downtown) how can you take care of me as a resident?

Second story housing downtown is gaining popularity for a variety of people.  The trend to living in a walkable community is rising.  You can now work from home and live in the downtown area and accomplish everything you need in one area.  Having a car is not so important anymore, with the advent of affordable rentals and being able to work from home.  We’re seeing young people taking advantage of this trend.  Not surprisingly, we are also seeing baby boomers wanting to move out of their sprawling homes into a loft unit downtown.  This makes room for the young parents to move into those former baby boomer homes.

But first you need the vibrant downtown area that includes retail and services.  You need to focus on the things that showcase quality of life for your residents.  These events and activities typically happen downtown.

In the Survey of Rural Challenges the top five concerns were:

  1. Downtown is dead
  2. Losing young people
  3. No one shops in town
  4. Missing out on tourism opportunities
  5. Need new residents

All of these concerns can be addressed by starting with downtown revitalization.  Helping your downtown and retailers will create a more vibrant downtown and reason for shopping.  Bringing back the pride in your downtown, and involving your youth in the process, helps to bring those same youth back to town after they’ve gone to college or trade school.  When tourists visit, they want to eat and shop – and explore your downtown.  If you’re working on 2nd story housing, now you’re offering cool and unique places for people to live.

Downtown matters, it’s the heart of your city.  Keep that heart beating and healthy!