Economic development group has big plans for downtown Wetumpka

Updated: Jun. 29, 2017 at 8:25 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - Main Street Wetumpka partnered up with Main Street Alabama and the Downtown Professionals Network to conduct a market study of the city's downtown district in the spring.

On Thursday, representatives from all three groups came together to present the findings to the community at the Wetumpka Civic Center. The executive summary presented showcased the data collected from the survey, as well as strategies to help downtown Wetumpka expand and grow.

Jay Schlinsog is a principal with the Downtown Professionals Network, the Tennessee-based company contracted by Main Street Alabama to conduct surveys for the local chapters. Schlinsog said the collected data is a positive sign for downtown Wetumpka's economic growth.

"It's apparent that downtown Wetumpka is evolving as a dining and entertainment district," Schlinsog said. "Folks are kind of seeing it as a reputation. It's exciting to think about complementary kinds of uses and miscellaneous retail that could be part of that mix in the future."

He said more than 600 residents and almost 90 percent of downtown business owners participated in the survey.

Schlinsog said the results also showed people want to feel there are more activities for people of all ages downtown- a point he said the City is already working to address.

"What stood out is that the festivals and events in the downtown area are viewed favorably," Schlinsog said. "People love them and come for them often."

Main Street Wetumpka started a little more than a year ago as a chapter member of Main Street Alabama. Main Street, itself, is a national organization that gets on the local level to revitalize downtown and commercial areas.

Main Street Alabama President and State Coordinator Mary Helmer said Wetumpka has been enthusiastic and willing to grow through the process. With the Wetumpka chapter being in its second year, Helmer said it's in phase two of three for the three year introduction setup.

"We came in about June of last year to give them their Resource Report," Helmer said. "That's the part where we really come in and start working with the community having them understand the vision and get them involved."

Year two is about the market analysis, and year three focused on branding. Though the first three years are intended to set the community up, Helmer said this is not a three-year program. The process to strengthen downtown Wetumpka will be ongoing.

Data from the survey showed people value the historic value of the downtown district. They want to see more options of places to live downtown as well as more places to eat, drink and buy miscellaneous items.

You can access a full copy of the report here.

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