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Home arrow News arrow Business & Ag Life arrow Downtown wants to continue growing Eastern relationship

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Downtown wants to continue growing Eastern relationship

Officials note efforts from outgoing President Bob Davies, hope push will continue

In November 2011, Eastern Oregon University opened its Mountaineer Market in downtown La Grande.

Situated in the Liberty Theatre building, the store’s presence has helped bridge the gap between the university and downtown.

With EOU President Bob Davies set to leave this summer, downtown businesses are hoping the effort to bridge that gap will continue.

“The president has been a big supporter of the (Liberty Theatre) project,” said Chantell Cosner, executive director of the Liberty Theatre Foundation Board.

Last week, Davies was named the next president of Murray State University in Murray, Ky., following an extensive series of meetings with community and university groups at Murray State. 

In addition to his support of the Liberty Theatre restoration project and events, Cosner said that he has brought a warm and friendly presence to
La Grande.

“I think that a lot of community members respect him, and I do believe he was one of those people that tried to bridge that gap (between EOU and downtown),” she said.

Public relations efforts at events are meaningful, said John Howard, chair of the La Grande Main Street Downtown board.

“One of the things Bob has done as president of EOU is make a big effort and outreach to our local community and downtown,” Howard said. “That was great for downtown and we’re still working toward a better relationship with downtown merchants and Eastern. We look forward to having that partnership grow with a new president.”

Howard, who owns John J. Howard Real Estate, said he hopes that in the search for a new president that is a priority.

“It’s very important that we have a strong, vibrant relationship (with EOU),” he said. “We don’t want to lose ground.”

Just last week, an EOU marketing class presented the results of a market study for downtown La Grande. Charlie Mitchell, La Grande community and economic development director, said that’s an example of progress that’s been made to enhance the EOU-downtown relationship.

“Hopefully that’s going to be a catalyst for our next step,” Mitchell said, noting that there is a push to enhance EOU’s flex dollars program. Mitchell said the Mountaineer Market and support of Liberty Theatre bode well for the relationship.

“Hopefully we can grow and expand that type of presence,” he said.

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