Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2001

Chamber, city advances on downtown upgrade

June 7, 2001

The Eudora Chamber of Commerce is working with the city in an effort to give downtown businesses a facelift that could breathe new life into the local economy.

The Eudora City Council will hear from Marylyn Graham of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing at 7:30 p.m., Monday, at Eudora City Hall. A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program manager, Graham will speak to the council about options the city can pursue to fund a downtown renewal project.

"She's going to make a presentation to the city council on the different programs that are available," Keith Turnbaugh, Eudora chamber president, said. "We met with the mayor, and he likes the idea. This is just to bring it up to the council, see if they have interest and then take the ball and run with it."

Through the CDBG program, the state receives up to $4 million in funds and typically grants $1 million to $1.5 million for projects. With several programs available through the CDBG, the Eudora Chamber and the council will focus on one to improve the downtown look. An approved CDBG would fund upgrades to building facades, streets and other business areas.

Mayor Ron Conner said he hoped the meeting helps advance the CDBG application process.

"Hopefully, in the long run here, we'll be doing those types of things as far as sprucing up downtown," Conner said. "I don't think it has to be that far down the road. It won't be here in the next six months but I don't think it'll be years and years."

Christina DeArmond, Quilting Bits and Pieces co-owner, said she's in favor of programs that would help give the downtown area and its businesses an improved look. The fabrics store has been on Main Street for almost four years. DeArmond said most of her customers are from outside Eudora, and she feels that aesthetically-pleasing storefronts would entice customers to bring others downtown.

"I think we need the revitalization downtown to bring in more businesses," DeArmond said. "I think a lot of businesses need work done on them so it's more appealing to the eye when you come downtown."

In addition to sprucing up local business exteriors, Turnbaugh said the Eudora Chamber is looking at ways to help keep local businesses' internal machines running smoothly. Turnbaugh said the Eudora Chamber is interested in holding workshops to help local business owners.

"What we'd like to do is help businesses learn to market themselves," he said.

Turnbaugh said some workshops haven't had great turnouts, citing one last year that focused on how to make businesses successful. Turnbaugh stressed a need for greater turnouts for future workshops' success.

"I was surprised by how few people actually showed up," he said. "I guess we can do something like that again, but we've got to have a response."

Eric Gruber can be reached at egruber@eudoranews.com

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