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Drumming Up Business

Carrollton, Ky., business owners
explore need for merchants group

Arts advocates also see need
to form a new group

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (December 2012) – Business owner Dinah Marshall believes the formation of a Merchant’s Association in Carrollton “would be a good thing.” Many in the community are contemplating this idea, along with a desire to revamp local arts programs.

Point Park

Photo by Don Ward

Carrollton’s Point Park is the site
of many events but merchants
want to mobilze an effort to bring
more activitiy to the retail district.

Marshal owns Artful Gifts, Etc., located on Highland Avenue. She says that a Merchant’s Association would benefit business owners by “helping us to grow and co-ordinate ourselves so that we can work together.”
She says that many in the community “don’t realize what is available. We have a variety of businesses, but they have to be used on a regular basis to stay open.” If you live on the other side of the county and don’t travel downtown often, you won’t know what’s there, she said.
Alice Richter is among a handful of people trying to change this. She wants to establish a “better downtown rapport between business owners, the city council and the community,” she said.
Richter chairs the Organization Committee, a subcommittee of the Carrollton Main Street Program. The goal of establishing a Merchants Association is to become “an advocate for business and property owners. My part is to do the footwork for them.”
She said such a group would be different fro m the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce in that no dues would be required at the present time. “The purpose is to have downtown merchants working together to do things, and make downtown more appealing.”
Rhonda Riley, executive director of Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism, said “this would be a great thing because certain events held downtown helps tourism. It’s a win-win situation for both groups. It’s also a good boost for small, individual businesses.”
Anything we can do to showcase our downtown area is needed, said Riley. “The historic square, old courthouse – it’s a dying breed.”
Richter said that so far, “several merchants thought it was a good idea.” She added that “there is power in numbers” if this plan is to come to fruition.
Two meetings have been held on the topic and attendees “raised a lot of questions,” Richter said. The police chief and Mayor Gene McMurry attended one of the meetings.
Richter said the mayor is supportive of these two projects. But as to whether a Merchants Association is really needed, “it depends on their goals,” said McMurry.
“The chamber is business oriented and already in place. At the meeting, I encouraged people to join the chamber, which represents the city and county, rather than establish a whole new organization.”
Rae Burgin, who owns Burgin’s Floor Covering, has been in the same location since 1998. Before that, she ran a business on Main Street for 18 years that is still open.
“We have so many different things going on, and right now we have several different people working the downtown area,” she said in reference to the Main Street Program and the chamber. “I don’t know if we have any use for another committee.”
She agrees with Marshal that “sometimes outsiders don’t know what’s going on.” A big issue for merchants and shoppers is parking, according to Burgin.
Nevertheless, many agree with Riley that “we’re headed in the right direction.”
In regard to renewing the arts scene in Carrollton, McMurry said he would “like to bring arts back to the community. I hope to be able to provide funding in next year’s budget.”
Riley said the Carroll County Public Library “does a great job in showcasing our artists and the arts.” But more exposure and venues are needed to bring about a greater awareness of what the county has to offer.
Hilary Arney, a library employee, is spearheading the reformation of a local Arts Commission. There is a lot of important legwork to be done to make a long standing in the community, said Arney.
“Our goal is to learn from the mistakes of the past.” In regrouping the Arts Commission, “We have a very valuable product to offer to the community,” she said.
Carrollton has had an Arts Board in various forms for the past 25 years, said Arney. In 2007, several individuals attempted to bring it back again, but this effort was met with obstacles. This past spring, the mayor asked several members to rejuvenate the commission, she said.
Right now the commission is working on establishing itself as at 501c3, which will make it easier to attract potential donors in the future and lay the groundwork for applying for grants. “We need to find a way to be self-sufficient.”
Once the core group has been established, “we will open it up to new membership,” Arney said. “We need a firm foundation to grow.”
She would like to see some type of spring kickoff membership drive event and for the committee to plan some seasonal events for 2013.

Back to December 2012 Articles.

 

 

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