PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - "It has been a good spot for people to come down here and shop, and eat, and entertainment. It got down to there was hardly no business here at all," said Natalie's Jewelry Box Owner, Natalie Burke.
That piece of property has been in Natalie Burke's family for years, so she's seen this area change. She took her own chance in 2008, when the economy did some changing too.
"I thought you know if I can keep as much going on as normal for everybody that maybe I could make it," said Burke.
Burke, like many other business owners, have been and continue to "make it" despite an uncertain economy.
"We have very little vacancy. Right now we have 2 properties that are available for rent. That's a good thing--it's kind of a catch 22," said Main Street Paragould Executive Director, Gina Jarrett.
Jarrett says their mix of merchants is key to their recipe for success.
"We need to keep those people interested in maybe realizing their dream and stepping out and taking that leap and opening their own business that's unique, different and can offer wonderful customer service--those are the folks that we need to have in our downtown," said Jarrett.
Jarrett estimates the downtown area employs around one thousand people and expects by the end of this year--individual property owners will have invested around 5 million dollars in downtown Paragould.
"Without a plan the people shall perish and Main Street Paragould is full of leaders and visionaries," said Cary Tyson.
Main Street Arkansas Director Cary Tyson says it's the customer service aspect of locally owned shops, that often keep people coming back.
"What makes your community different, the heart of your town is your downtown. It's what separates you and that's why it's so important to manage it," said Tyson.
For Natalie Burke a downtown business is in her blood. While the road to a thriving downtown district may not always be a smoother one--she's hoping they can all work together to pave a path to success now and for the future.
"We're still trying to get out and let people know you know, we're here and we're thriving and we're getting better," said Burke.