OPP, AL (WSFA) - The City of Opp is looking for revitalize their downtown and recently had some encouragement from the stars of HGTV’s show “Home Town.”
The city has seen a steady economic decline after losing several businesses and industries to overseas. Amanda Henderson with the Opp Downtown Redevelopment Authority says the city needs an economic comeback.
“We would love to see our downtown area vibrant and bustling again with thriving businesses,” Henderson said.
Henderson, who traveled to Laurel, Mississippi, where the show “Home Town” is filmed, says she was inspired by how Laurel was making a comeback and the way they were marketing their city.
That’s when Henderson asked the show to come and provide some insights on what Opp could do to revitalize their downtown.
During a meeting with the stars of the show, city leaders and community members got to get a behind the scenes view of the community restoration that took place in Laurel. They also learned how Laurel created an atmosphere to instill preservation, promotion and economic development efforts community wide.
After the meeting, the revitalization board asked residents to become a part of Opp’s comeback story.
The revitalization board is looking to bring in jobs, retail and restaurants back to the downtown area. Currently, there are several empty buildings needing to be filled.
“We hope to do improvement projects in our downtown area that would make it a place that businesses want to located and open, and also a place that would support our current businesses and encourage our citizens and people from out of town to be patrons of those businesses as well,” Henderson says.
Henderson says she believes the people of Opp have lost hope but, like the stars of “Home Town” say, “It takes a town to save a town.” Henderson says she hopes they can inspire the community to come together to make change happen.
“People need to know that it can happen, that we can come back, that is it possible," she said. "People need to know that there are people who are willing to work to make it happen.”
But before they can see change, Henderson says they need the community’s support.
“We have to encourage citizens to support local businesses. They can’t thrive and grow and give us things until we are patrons of what’s already here,” Henderson said.