Revitalizing Downtown Rector a Team Effort

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Bradley S. Jordan, Main Street Arkansas assistant director, presents Rector Mayor David Freeman with a check for $1,500 following Thursday's meeting focusing on revitalizing downtown Rector.

Rector Downtown Central, the community's Main Street Arkansas affiliated organization, welcomed small business consultant Mark Miller, exterior design consultant J. Mason Toms, assistant director Bradley Jordan and assistant director Samantha Evans from Main Street Arkansas for a special training session Thursday in Rector.

Main Street Arkansas provides technical assistance and design services to help create economic development in the state's downtown areas. The Main Street approach to downtown revitalization focuses on four areas: design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion. Main Street Arkansas is a program area of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

A group of community and business leaders including Rector Downtown Central president Johnny Williams and Mayor David Freeman met with the four representatives to discuss potential methods to spark interest and renewal along Rector's Main Street and downtown areas.

"We discussed several things which I think could be of use to downtown Rector," Williams said. "(We discussed) things like storefronts and interior design for shops and how to make them more appealing to customers. Main Street Arkansas helped organize the historic district and create Rector Downtown Central, and they're continuing their support of the program here."

Williams noted possible activities in downtown Rector, which has seen a number of its buildings become vacant through the closure of businesses or due to structural damage through the years.

"There are possibilities such as hosting one-day sales or flea markets in empty buildings, cleaning up the empty storefronts and placing items there to attract people to buy the building and using things like that during Labor Day to maybe encourage someone to open a small business here along Main Street. We would love to see more small businesses here in town, and we discussed the different ways we might be able to attract them."

The Main Street Arkansas representatives also presented Mayor Freeman with a check in the amount of $1,500. The funds represent the membership dues Rector Downtown Central has paid in over the past three years, which the organization returns to the community after such a period of time.

Williams said the discussions provided a great deal of useful information, and hopes those who attended the meeting, as well as others within the community, will show their support of the effort by working together to help implement some of the possibilities discussed.

"There are things we can do that will certainly help," Williams said. "There are no immediate answers or guarantees, but every little bit can make a difference."

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  • 1. Establish regularly occurring public events showcasing downtown merchants, with music, and food. Think about the Labor Day Picnic as a great example.

    2. Consolidate regional economic development partner organizations into a single downtown location along side goverment offices.

    3. Create a permanent public market - Not a junk yard or a flea market. Something upscale serving citizens and visitors. Work to make Rector downtown a visitor destination for a purpose. Think clean and colorful. Farmers Markets, crafts fairs, local flavor.

    4. Open a downtown satellite micro campus of a local university.

    5. Create an awesome downtown playground to make your downtown more kid-friendly and family-friendly.

    6. Create a branded downtown entertainment district that fits Rector's personality, something that fits the wants and needs of Rector people and visitors.

    7. Enhance and make good use of public spaces.

    -- Posted by JCfromMounds on Mon, Jul 28, 2014, at 9:54 AM
  • A halfhearted attempt of making Rector vibrant and alive will only make things worse. It has to be a serious undertaking with town leaders being visible and actively involved and involving those with ideas and energy to make things better.

    It is going to take more than time; it is going to take investments. The investments have to have a tangible return.

    Success begets success. Start something and make it work. Make it sustainable. Then repeat that success with another new project. Make it part of the downtown rector DNA. Make Rector classy in its own way. Do not make Rector junky. Make Rector Clean. Rector has a long agricultural heritage, leverage that in a vibrant way.

    -- Posted by JCfromMounds on Mon, Jul 28, 2014, at 10:03 AM
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