The EDA has a partner in its focus on downtown Sleepy Eye — the Downtown District Committee, a newly formed organization that wants to help bring business and activity to the downtown area.

Last May, EDA Coordinator Kurk Kramer wrote about the EDA’s focus on the downtown district. He said they discussed some downtown properties regarding possible rehab options, possible demolition possibilities, and possible purchase options. He reiterated their goal to assist in the revitalization of Sleepy Eye’s downtown.

Kramer mentioned a workshop he attended—Minnesota Main Street Basic Training—that stressed the importance of the downtown district for the whole community. One of the statements he brought back was, “Downtown displays the economic health of the community, it shows a partnership between the private and public sector, displays the quality of life and local pride, and displays some of the community’s most important history.”

At the conclusion of that month’s EDA column, Kramer said it was important for the community to “buy-in” to the idea of a revitalized downtown district. He wrote, “The EDA is going to continue efforts on their work downtown, will you?”

That column sparked interest by several downtown business owners—some fairly new to the Sleepy Eye business community. A number of individuals reached out to Kramer and said they wanted to be part of the effort. “Kurk said that was the first time he’d experienced that kind of response to his column,” said Christi Currier, one of those newcomers to Sleepy Eye with an interest in downtown.

These interested citizens got together and formed the Downtown District Committee (DDC). Some who were instrumental in starting the committee include Dave and Sara Hunter of Prairie Pizza, William and Chloe Breczinski of Faber Metalli, Kathy and Nichole Krenz of Krenz Real Estate, Sam Armbruster, Sean Connolly and Currier. Not all of them remain active in the DDC.

The DDC got to work right away, planning a car show to be held downtown during the Corn Days celebration. The new event, on a short timeline for planning, turned out to be a success, drawing many cars and trucks of various ages and entertaining a steady crowd of visitors.

The car show was Sara Hunter’s idea, according to Currier. “I’d been involved in organizing a car show before,” she said. “I had a good idea of what we needed to do.” Hunter said the DDC plans to have the car show again this coming summer during on the Saturday afternoon of Corn Days weekend.

DDC Treasurer, Nichole Krenz, gave credit to the Hunters for helping to bring like-minded people together. She expressed the committee’s purpose in a simple phrase: “to bring business and activity downtown.”

The DDC wanted to be able to offer assistance to building owners who want to improve their property. While the car show did make money, Krenz agreed it wasn’t enough to rehab a building. “No, that’s not what we have in mind,” she said. “We are thinking of smaller, spruce-up type projects. If someone would like to paint their storefront, perhaps we could give them funds for the paint, or something like that.”

The DDC also helped plan the new Polar X-Press event that was held in downtown on Saturdays in December. The event was mainly organized by Kathy and Nichole Krenz, who plan to revise it a bit and sponsor it next December through Krenz Real Estate.

Hunter said the DDC is in the process of organizing as a 501-c-3 non-profit. In addition to Krenz as treasurer, the DDC’s other officer is President David Hunter.

Have you heard of “Flip this Town” and consultant Ron Drake? If not, you will soon. The DDC and EDA have arranged to bring Drake to Sleepy Eye in April. Read more about that in next week’s article.