Poised for growth

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Good things are in store for Cassville, and the latest "good news" to hit the area supports that prediction. Cassville is one of only five communities in the state selected to receive a DREAM Initiative grant. DREAM stands for Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri. The DREAM Initiative helps small and mid-sized Missouri communities navigate through the various downtown revitalization, business development and residential resources available through the state to help spark downtown revitalization and job creation efforts.

I have visited other DREAM communities, like Kirksville and Boonville, and been impressed with the changes I have witnessed in both these cities' downtowns. The net effect is a more vibrant city center and an increase in the number and type of businesses operating downtown. In both the cases of Kirksville and Boonville, the history of the downtown areas has been preserved; it's just been shined up and expanded upon.

I have always believed that the downtown business district is the heart of any small community, and in Cassville, that holds true as well. The DREAM Initiative will give city planners and local business owners the guidance and tools they need to give Cassville's downtown a makeover of sorts. The vision for what Cassville's downtown can become is laid out in the city's master plan, and the DREAM Initiative offers the community the means to make sure that plan moves forward and one day becomes a reality.

In talking about the DREAM, I use the words community rather than city when referring to those who will be involved in the DREAM planning process. The effort will of course include city officials but it will also require the involvement of a host of other community groups and individuals. Planning for the revitalization of a downtown area will require the backing of more than just those on the citypayroll. Revitalizing Cassville will need the support of business owners and community leaders and citizens of all ages.

The city's master planning process was successful because citizens got involved and made the plan their own. The same holds true for the DREAM Initiative. There will be opportunities for community involvement and input. I encourage the citizens of Cassville to stay informed and stay involved in the process. I pledge to keep you informed on what's going on with DREAM so you can stay in touch with what's going on with the process as it unfolds.

It's also important to note that the grant money received through the three-year DREAM Initiative process is earmarked for planning purposes. As City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck explained, DREAM is not a bricks and mortar grant but rather a grant that will provide the techinical expertise needed to pursue those brick and mortar programs down the road.

The DREAM Initiative is truly a sign of good things to come for Cassville. The citizens of Cassville now have the chance to dream about what they want their downtown to become. Being a DREAM community gives cities like Cassville a chance to spark change and revitalization in their downtowns, which in turn, can attract new business and tourism to the area. I am excited to watch the DREAM planning process begin, and I'm anticipating involvement from all those citizens who love Cassville but believe our fine city has untapped potential to position itself for further growth.