PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - One Region 8 town is making it a priority this year to improve and lure residents to their downtown businesses.
According to a report from Arkansas Talk Business & Politics, Gina Jarrett has been the Main Street Paragould executive director since 2005.
When she became the director, Jarrett said she faced an uphill battle. Downtown Paragould had deteriorated, and a new generation of customers didn't even know it existed. Many buildings were covered in siding and were bland in color.
Jarrett said in the 15 years since Main Street Paragould was formed, retail sales have changed, as well as locally owned brick and mortar locations. Jarrett said they must continue to change to combat online shopping.
"It has to be the kind of thing you do with your mom, daughter, or your friends," Jarrett said. "It's an outing."
Efforts to improve the shopping experience in Paragould are starting to show. Last year, more than $863,000 worth of property was sold downtown, with private investors investing $1.56 million in building improvements.
Compare that to 2015 with $941,350 spent on properties with $1.148 million being spent in improvements.
This year, four businesses have already approached Main Street Paragould with developmental plans. According to Talk Business & Politics, those plans will cost about $110,000, and the organization will provide a 50/50 match for approved projects.
While Main Street Paragould received only $15,000 worth of grants from the state, Jarret said she'll work with business owners to try to find less expensive ways to move work forward.
With Marmaduke, Rector, and Kennett close to Paragould, Jarrett said the right kind of advertising and marketing can lure residents to downtown Paragould.
"We've made significant gains since 1998," Jarret said. "Paragould is a great place to shop, dine, and own your own business."
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