Our view: Main Street

Economic development is almost always a positive goal. The study through the National Main Street program that the City of Sundance launched last week could bring great things to this community – and the gentleman who outlined the possibilities certainly seemed to know what he was talking about (see front page for full story).

Someday, in the not too distant future, we could see a transformed Sundance with more shopping choices; an increase in tourist interest and attractions for visitors and locals alike; and more job opportunities within those new businesses. It’s hard to find anything to criticize in such a vision.

We support pushing for development that serves the local community as much, if not more, as potential tourists. As many businesses have found, retailers and service providers need custom all year round if they are to stay afloat, while it’s those of us who live and work here that will be making the most use of this revitalized downtown area.

It’s to be particularly applauded that the committee driving Sundance’s Main Street program has sought advice and guidance from experts in the field. Experience of driving economic development in small town America will be crucial to this effort, along with the enthusiasm that many members of this community appear to be bringing to the table.

Of course, with greater opportunity comes an increase in property prices, which many of us no doubt will welcome with open arms. On the other hand, we urge our forward-thinking city council to begin planning ways to increase the availability of affordable housing as the push for economic development continues.

Many of the new job options will be within a retail environment, or will involve start-up businesses with relatively low cash flow. Rising property prices could potentially drive those people who may have been interested in such opportunities to look elsewhere.

Not to mention that, as businesses find they need more employees when the flow of customers increases, they may at the same time find the property price rise has made it tough to find anyone to fill those needed roles.

Mr. Wagner talked a great deal during his visit about forming strategic plans and defined goals, implying that there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about a project of this nature. It’s very early days in the development of any formal strategy, but these were wise words.

Judging by the audience, which represented a wide range of businesses already thriving in this city, there is interest across the board in what this study might bring. Sundance is already a great place to live, work and play – if we continue to push for moderate and sensible change (including that affordable housing), perhaps it could be even better.