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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Downtown Superior consultant: 'Be bold, audacious'
A downtown revitalization specialist believes it's not too late to breathe new life into Superior's core business district, even though it has suffered a slow decline for decades.
But the task won't be easy, predicted consultant Matthew Godfrey, who speaks from experience. While mayor of Ogden, Utah, he spearheaded a highly successful effort to revamp the city after railroads vastly scaled back their presence.
“We have to do big things – be bold, be audacious,” Godfrey told the Superior Business Improvement District's (BID) annual meeting Wednesday.
Superior business leaders believe Godfrey has the talent to lead that effort. When meeting with him on two occasions, “You could feel the energy in the room,” said Bruce Thompson, president of Wisconsin Banks at National Bank of Commerce. “Shame on us if we don't do something now.”
That effort began with the launch of Better City Superior Inc., a non-profit economic development group that Thompson chairs. It has retained Godfrey to provide professional direction.
“I've lived here all my life,” said Thompson, who personally has witnessed the closure of many small retailer stores. “Downtown Superior has to be revitalized.”
In his keynote address, Godfrey explained how blighted business districts in Denver, Louisville and Birmingham, Ala., were nursed back to health. Certain steps are essential, he said:
• The district needs to be cleaned up.
• Key attractions need to be identified and established.
• The district needs to be “cool” so it attracts visitors.
• Housing must be established in the district to enhance synergy.
• Historic buildings must be preserved and creatively re-used.
It will take an infusion of public money to make the effort work, Godfrey said, warning that some people will object. To advance that sort of agenda, politicians will need ongoing support from the business community.
“City councilors will need to hear from the business community to fight CAVE people,” he said, describing CAVE people as “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.”
“More than anything else, we'll need a healthy dose of courage to make this happen,” Godfrey said.
In an election of BID officers, Alan Jaques was named chair, Julie Nelson vice chair and Joye Bedard secretary-treasurer.Previous Daily Briefing Articles:
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