Making a difference downtown

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Downtown Cassville is looking better and better. Two Saturdays ago, I walked around the Square enjoying the spring sidewalk sale and found myself grinning because our town felt downright prosperous. There were a good number of people walking around the square and spending money at local businesses, and all the merchants seemed to be enjoying the event. The renovations and expansion at Whitley Pharmacy seems to have provided an extra boost of energy in the downtown area, and it's my hope their example will spur on other property owners to embark on similar projects.

I appreciate the investments made by many of the business owners in the downtown area. In addition to the Whitley expansion project, there has been previous work completed by Ellis, Cupps and Cole, Security Abstract, Towneley Furnishings, Neill's Home Store, Barry County Abstract and Title and Gussied Up Boutique. And years before that, Tomblin's (and Whitley Pharmacy) made it clear they were here to stay by choosing to rebuild in downtown Cassville after a fire gutted their buildings. Willis Insurance, Commerce Bank, Smith's, Sater Pharmacy and Westco have also served to anchor the square for decades and provide stability.

What is happening in downtown Cassville should serve as an inspiration to other business owners or investors who are currently deciding whether or not they want to invest in a building renovation or purchase an existing business and begin a new venture. In both scenarios, we hope these individuals will realize Cassville has a vision and downtown is headed along a path of growth and prosperity. Through the DREAM Initiative and Main Street Connection, additional incentives and planning direction will be offered. Cassville's opportunity to revitalize its downtown is now. Downtowns are the heart of any community, and a vital downtown more often than not translates into a strong overall business community.

In the coming months, there will be meetings held concerning DREAM and Main Street Connection, and we hope local citizens will choose to get involved. Feedback and input from the community is always needed, and I hope business owners, in particular, will buy into the program or at least explore what it has to offer. I also want to again thank all the businesses around the Cassville Square who have already made a significant investment in improving the look of their buildings. Your effort has not gone by unnoticed, and Cassville is a stronger community because of your investment of time and money.

Lisa Schlichtman