By JEFF JOBE
The resurgence of Downtown Glasgow is gaining momentum, but it will require a community effort to take it to new levels and sustain the progress.
Our road to revitalization is long overdue and certainly had its bumps. The movement in place today is fueled by motivation and a true love for Glasgow. We know how blessed we are and we are rolling up our sleeves to prove it.
This community deserves better than we have given her and the time is now to put her first. Glasgow is home to those of us who choose to live here, and I’m comfortable in speaking for the Glasgow Downtown Business Association (GDBA) when I say we are ashamed at the rankings our city has fallen to and determined to do our part in putting those days in the past.
There is not a single member of our association who feels our best approach to growing Glasgow is to sit back and pray alone for a large company to come here and save us. We are united in our effort to build something together that we all can enjoy and fully believe that if we do, in time they, too, will come.
I could fill this page with obstacles we have, but we’ve overcome many and have faith that Mayor Harold MD Armstrong and a majority of city council members are doing their very best to address others.
This past week the GDBA hosted our second Sip, Shop & Stroll event on the square and I have never been so proud of the cooperation from city department heads, their employees, and our community as a whole. Not only did the city department heads help us get paperwork and approvals to host this event, but their employees redid flower boxes with new recycled glass chips and painted all the curbs around the square. The next time you are in downtown Glasgow just notice how clean and colorful the islands are between the turns.
We are so very thankful that we had so many families come out to the kids’ zone, bring their classic cars, and stay late to enjoy some awesome local music.
In its beginning, a downtown recovery can be sparked by a few visionary leaders who are willing to take a risk and invest their own time, energy, and money to start a city’s turnaround.
We’re doing this and I am proud of the response we have received. But as time goes on, day-by-day and month-by-month, we must keep focused. We have decades of spending and marketing pulling our community in several directions when our first objective should be to rebuild downtown.
Growth comes from us all doing our part to support one another while looking for ways to creatively use our resources to improve our community.
The writing is on the wall as plain as day for anyone who wants to see it. We will never attract industry to a town we ourselves don’t support. I will stake my name, business reputation, and all that I am as a community newspaper publisher that if we can create incentives to rebuild and grow downtown to a place where we spend our evenings and weekends then companies will stop driving by us to Bowling Green. Years ago it was my job to seek newspaper acquisitions and I assure you, I would never suggest buying a newspaper in a community I wouldn’t want to live.
We need city, county, state, and evenfederal officials to look for ways to help a community by helping those willing to take risks for our downtown revitalization efforts. I met with some tourism executives and was told if I would commit to $1M they would loan it to me. This is an absurd amount of debt for someone just wanting to do something nice for his or her community.
I’m not one on task forces and certainly don’t want another meeting. I believe we spend too much time in meetings and not nearly enough time with a paintbrush in our hand. It would cost nothing to establish a volunteer task force to look for ways to coordinate incentives to continue to revive downtown.
We need members of the community to serve from various cliques and political backgrounds to assure a broader appeal and diversity. After all, Glasgow doesn’t belong to any one of us any more than another.
Perhaps this group could coordinate funding from tourism or establish forgivable loans in exchange for quantifiable downtown revenue. I know my brewery is already making some nice tax payments and, in all reality, it is found money for Glasgow.
We currently have several projects being maneuvered and discussed: some private, some government, and others with promises of government and private partnerships. Each has individual merit, and as the GDBA has proven, they can be done on their own, but none will realize the full potential until we can push aside our differences for the good of Glasgow.
The local businesses making up the GDBA (including myself) are willing to help and support anyone or any group that has a true love for Glasgow, and we welcome everyone who might want to join us in rebuilding downtown Glasgow.
There is no better time to begin working together for Glasgow than today.
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 sckentucky.com