Ron Drake, the consultant on downtown development, was really impressed with our community.
Ron Drake, the consultant on downtown development, was really impressed with our community. Here is a quote from an email he sent to our EDA Director, Kurk Kramer after his time in Sleepy Eye: “Good morning, Kurk. Man, I’m exhausted from the week! Good exhausted though. I really try to put all my energy into these trips and this one used even more than usual. I was thinking back to all the communities I’ve worked in, and I believe this was the largest group I’ve ever presented to at the final day presentation. I’ve spoken to much larger groups as a keynote and such, but the amount of people that came for this type event is amazing. You guys should be super proud!”
Last summer’s survey of one-third of our community’s property owners identified Main Street as an area of the community that needed improvement and that residents were least proud of. Some of our downtown folks identified Ron Drake as a possible asset to help the community address Main Street. Christi Currier and Sara Hunter, from the downtown group, drove to talk to Ron and view his work in other communities and came back with a strong recommendation that he should be brought to town.
Our community EDA was already well aware of the Main Street challenge and had been working on Main Street for several years. They are looking forward to Ron’s recommendations that we’re slated to receive in the next couple weeks.
It’s so good to be able to say that progress is already happening. One business is already in progress (they started before Ron’s visit). An offer has been made on another storefront, that may require some zoning change, and I spoke to another party that is looking at making an offer on another storefront. Still another property is being considered for future development.
So, as Main Street begins to transform itself, be assured that this will not be an easy process and it will not happen over night. It is going to take money, hard work and persistence to make Main Street a part of our community that we can all be proud of. We have to keep in mind, too, that not every Main Street property owner wants this transformation, so the challenges are there.
Drake stated to me on the side that his goal was to help the residents of this community see that Sleepy Eye Main Street restoration is a doable project. Further, in his email to Kurk Kramer he said, “The crowd support at the presentation and all of this social media encouragement is a great sign that your community is craving restoration.” Two hundred to 250 people at his closing presentation spoke volumes about how Sleepy Eye feels about downtown restoration.