The Bowman County Economic Development Corporation (BCDC) is geared toward revitalizing the commercial and retail sectors in the downtown districts of Bowman County with a program called, “Downtown Revitalization.”
By Chris Slone
The goal is to further emphasize the BCDC’s mission of developing and sustaining a great place to live, work and grow.
Teran Doerr, director of the development corporation, sent a letter addressed to the commissioners, asking for a $50,000 contribution from both the City of Bowman and Bowman County, “that would only be expended as requests came in.”
“With the trending outmigration of businesses from main streets across the country, it is imperative that we do what we can to preserve the heart of our community,” Doerr said in the letter. “As an addition to our downtown development efforts, the BCDC is proposing the addition of a ‘Downtown Revitalization’ program as a pilot to begin in 2019.
Doerr asked both commissioners to budget for the program for the coming year. Lyn James, president of the city commissioners, said the Downtown Revitalization program is part of their preliminary budget, which they will vote to adopt Aug. 6. If the budget passes at that point, the final adoption would take place Oct. 2.
“It’s a great program,” James said. “The development corporation put this program together and its patterned after several other communities looking at revitalizing their main corridor downtown because of the trend of big footprints for some of the stores moving outside of main street.
“It’s basically a response to how can we make main street better. So, this is something we can offer.”
The Chairman of the Bowman County Commissioners Lynn Brackel said he was in favor of the program as well.
“Teran came in and presented her budget. We talked about it. Myself, I’m supportive of it. It needs to be done because it you check your taxable sales for Bowman County for the 2016-2017 year, we were down by 12 percent. The first quarter of 2018, we were down by 11 percent,” Brackel said. “Somehow we have to revitalize that business back into Bowman.”
The major issue for the county revolves around funding. According to Brackel, the county is responsible for a $700,000 social services budget, which must be taken out of the general budget as opposed to levying mills due to state restrictions. As far as contributions, Brackel said the state is going to fund the county in the amount of $500,000 this year. The county also received requests to add three additional staff members for the upcoming year.
“This is where we’re coming from as far as other needs for the county,” Brackel said. “We have to somehow prioritize this.”
According to Brackel, the county is preparing to make a decision, which will likey take place at their next meeting, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 7.
Doerr said in the initial draft, which outlined the program, details the visual presentation is an important aspect of marketing and gaining customer loyalty. According to Doerr, 70 percent of first time sales at restaurants, retail shops, lodging facilities and attractions come from curb appeal. In addition, 80 percent of tourism takes place on main street.
The Downtown Revitalization program has five main goals:
• Enhance and promote commercial growth in downtown Bowman, Rhame and Scranton.
• Improve the physical appearance, visibility and ‘curb appeal’ of storefronts including signage and awnings as well as the overall look of the property.
• Encourage redevelopment and reinvestment in the community
• Leverage private investments while making revitalization affordable and local
• Encourage historical preservation and renovation.
The program is administered by the BCDC.
“We know you see the importance of maintaining the heart of our community as much as our residents and local area businesses do,” Doerr said to the commissioners in her letter.