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Economic development director provides council with final focus group report

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Feb. 6, Lynette Dilbeck, Cassville economic development director, presented the Cassville City Council with PGAV Planners' final focus group report.

Last year, PGAV conducted three focus groups in Cassville as a portion of the research for the DREAM Initiative. The purpose of the groups was to learn about the community's priorities regarding the downtown area.

Through the groups, PGAV learned that local business owners, residents and city staff members see Cassville as a family-oriented small town that serves as a hub for surrounding communities for employment and recreation.

Participants felt that there is not enough dining options in Cassville. They said that a wider variety of restaurants, longer business hours and easing of alcohol restrictions would improve the downtown area.

All of the groups agreed that the downtown area is "fairly stagnant." Many of the participants said they would visit downtown more often if business hours were more convenient and the area was more aesthetically pleasing.

Participants recommended the downtown area focus on attracting affordable speciality shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. The area should be developed as a shopping experience for customers.

Some of the businesses recommended by group members included: a shoe store; a bakery; a diner; sidewalk cafes; art galleries; and art stores.

The groups said that new businesses should be encouraged to locate in the downtown area and old businesses should be encouraged to renovate their buildings through incentive programs.

All participants agreed that building and facade renovation, streetscape enhancement and improved landscaping are priorities for downtown Cassville. The area should aim for a cohesive, aesthetic design to attract customers of all ages.

Events designed to attract residents and out-of-town businesses to the downtown area were also listed as a priority. Several group members commended the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce for already developing one event, Friday Squared.

Focus group participants were asked to give feedback regarding downtown revitalization, which will likely help with job creation, but questions posed by PGAV representatives were not directed toward the job creation topic.

During her economic development report on Monday night, Dilbeck also updated the council on the city's new website. She is currently learning to navigate the website and make changes and additions.

Dilbeck's presentation also offered updates on the following:

* Casey's is planning a late April opening. Dilbeck has offered assistance with job fairs or other services to help prepare the new store for the opening.

* Tractor Supply Company is still on target to open on March 3.

* Bob Donnelly, Department of Economic Development Business and Community Services Division business development manager, has provided the city with guidelines, contacts and application information for Community Development Block Grants.

* The Barry County Courthouse will receive a historic designation from the Civil War Trust in Washington, D.C. This will allow Cassville to apply for Civil War signage through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

* Dilbeck has been asked to co-chair the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership as the public sector representative.



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