Meeting to showcase La Grande’s downtown revitalization work

By Observer staff February 10, 2010 03:22 pm

La Grande Main Street will be holding a Community Meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Community Room at the Cook Memorial Library.

The meeting is an opportunity to introduce residents and downtown business owners to the program and showcase projects the La Grande Main Street program has taken on.

It is also an opportunity for community members to provide input for future Main Street projects.

La Grande Main Street said it encourages downtown business owners and community members interested in downtown revitalization to attend the meeting.

“I hope that people come and see and hear the enthusiasm for themselves,” said Carol Summers, La Grande Main Street board chairperson. “It takes a lot of hands and minds to move this train along, and we can use all the help we can get.”

Attendees will also hear a keynote address from Sheri Stuart, the new director of the Oregon Main Street Program. She will be delivering a presentation. “What Makes a Successful Downtown Revitalization Effort?”

Stuart began working for the State of Oregon’s Main Street Program office in October of last year.

She brought 19 years of downtown revitalization experience from previous positions in Washington State and at the national level.

Prior to taking her position in Salem, she was the Assistant Coordinator of the Washington Main Street Program.

Stuart has worked with local Main Street Programs across the state, including La Grande, through site visits, technical assistance and statewide meetings and trainings.

“This will be Sheri’s second visit to La Grande since October. She’s been very accessible and helpful, despite the fact that her office is 300 miles away in Salem”, said Jason McNeil, the City of La Grande’s Main Street program coordinator.

Stuart said she has high hopes for the La Grande Main Street Program.

“I think you have a great community and a great downtown based on a previous visit I made to La Grande,” she said. “I saw the important ingredients to a successful downtown revitalization effort.”

Stuart also emphasized the need for community and business support.

“I think the comprehensive approach offered by the Main Street Program is important to any downtown revitalization. However, the key ingredient is people – getting the community involved.

“You can have all the components in place, but without strong involvement from the community, a downtown revitalization effort will struggle to succeed.”

The community meeting will not only provide an opportunity to learn more about the Main Street Program, but will also be an opportunity to showcase completed, current and planned revitalization projects in downtown La Grande.

The public will be given the chance to provide input on potential new projects and program direction during a breakout session.

Also, key figures in the community who have helped forward La Grande downtown revitalization efforts will be honored with awards and certificates of appreciation.

Summers said she hopes the meeting will encourage more members of the community to join in the Main Street efforts.