No magic required

Dedicated people, not tricks, will make downtown viable

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Main street revitalization expert John Schler said there's no magic formula to creating a viable downtown. What is necessary is a dedicated group of people working to get it done.

Whether that group exists still isbeing evaluated.

Downtown business owners have heard presentations from two experts in the past four months, and they are trying to figure out where to go from here.

"We're all just trying to figure out where to go," Downtown Business Association President Karen Brown said. "We want everyone's input."

The DBA has been reviewing a 1993 Craig Improvement Authority Plan to see whether any of the ideas outlined still can be used. They also are working to develop partnerships with the city, county and other businesses.

"The most important thing is to get everyone involved," Brown said. "It's important to work on the downtown area but to also include the city and the county. But, if you don't have a strong downtown, you don't have a strong city."

Business owners are discussing staying open late on the second Saturday of each month. Schler said 65 percent of all shopping is done after 5 p.m. and on weekends. Some downtown businesses are staying open until 5:30 or 6 p.m., but the group hasn't come to a consensus about uniform hours of late operation.

"We have talked about it. It's just a matter of hammering it in," Neolithics owner Carol Wilson said. "I feel certain that's an area business owners are open to."

One night a month, Wilson said, is a start. She hopes the group can add another reason for people to be downtown, such as entertainment.

"It's something that we'll build on and learn as we go," she said. "We just do what we can."

Wilson said DBA members are motivated and energized, but currently they are operating in neutral.

"We're just trying to figure out what gear to get into," she said.

Ron Laselle, owner of the Gol-den Cavvy, said the presentations didn't teach him anything he didn't already know, but they may help motivate business owners to work together toward a common goal.

He recommends that the group seek grants to help make downtown more appealing.

Specifically, he'd like to see better lighting if businesses are going to draw people in the evenings and Schler return with a plan that is less generalized and more tailored to Craig's specific needs.

The DBA meets at 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays in the back room of Serendipity.

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