Downtown is the heart of community
By JEFF JOBE
Last week I was asked to speak at the Glasgow Rotary club by a friend Sam, Day Dickinson. I believe he was the August program chairman and I seem to remember the honor to schedule speakers rotating throughout the membership. I myself was a Rotarian for many years until my schedule became so hectic with regional demands that I couldn’t commit to be in any location each week at the same time; so, I resigned.
In my decades of life and business, I believe my generation has done little to embrace change, take our inheritances to new levels or done little to encourage one another. As I spoke to the group about a new venture I have undertaken, I was reminded of this so I made my presentation with a theme of; sharing community, tears and learning to laugh together.
I was comfortable with this group and it helped me speak from the heart. I love our community and I wanted this to be conveyed as my motivation for bringing our region the first microbrewery and gastropub.
This new business is named Yancey’s Gastropub and Brewery and it is located in a beautiful old renovated building on the square in downtown Glasgow, Kentucky. It has been open for only a month and expansion is already happening to meet current demands and plans for the future. I am overwhelmed with the support we are seeing from a cross section of generations; from those who love breweries to so many others who just want to see life back to our downtowns.
I shared that my daughters encouraged me to step out because for years we have visited cafes or some type of business on the square in several towns. While there I would often say something along the line of; our buildings at home could be just as nice as these. In August of last year they actually said, “Dad, you have said this a thousand times, for gosh sakes if you can’t get someone to do it then just do it yourself.”
In my travels I have come to the conclusion that any community with no activity on their downtown square after 6 p.m. is a dying community and any community with leadership not encouraging growth downtown is doomed.
Whether it be Russell Springs, Jamestown, Morgantown, Horse Cave, Edmonton, Brownsville, Munfordville, Tompkinsville or Glasgow it is essential to have a lively and active downtown life or our communities will leave and live life elsewhere.
If you want to see what I write in action, jump in your car and drive to the fastest growing sections of Nashville, Lexington, and to some degree Bowling Green and watch as people are walking to dinner, sitting on the square in an outside cafe or laying on the grass listening to music. They are doing nothing more than living life together.
When you find this after six activity you will notice buildings being renovated and younger new ideas coming into play. When you find these communities filled with life you will also find jobs, lots of them because companies and business managers want to be close to life.
If you take the time to trace back the success of these sections of big cities or small town renovations it will lead to a time when a city council, mayor, county judge, magistrate, individual or group came to realize that Main Street is the heart of our community and just as a strong heart is essential to our personal health; so is our downtown to all that we do in every community.
Over the past 20-years of owning Jobe Publishing, I have witnessed thousands of ribbon cuttings and sadly most never survive the first few years because of the tremendous time commitment and start up cash involved. But when it comes to downtown businesses most don’t need too much to survive and this is where just a few of us each day can make a difference.
When you and co-workers are contemplating lunch, or a family date night consider stopping into one of the locations around the square; your visit is nothing less than a push for a stronger more active community.
I truly believe it is essential that we continue to hurt, work and struggle together but we must do all we can to learn to laugh and smile together.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com