The lights on Helper's Main Street may be burning a little brighter and more often thanks to the organization and enthusiasm of the town's business owners. Last week's inaugural meeting of the tentatively-titled Helper Utah Business Association not only demonstrated large scale buy-in from local merchants, but also showed that the resources needed to get their association moving are already in place.
"I was very surprised to see 23 people there," said Mike James of the Iron Horse Event Center where the meeting was held. "We organized the meeting to try and see if we could get more businesses to stay open on the weekend for tourists but after our first meeting there is simply more interest than we thought."
According to James, a significant number of tourists from across the U.S. as well as overseas have come into the Iron Horse since the shop opened its doors approximately a month ago.
"We have had people in here from Michigan and Northern Ireland just recently," he explained. "We get the majority of our tourist business on weekends and that was one of the reasons for starting a group. We wanted to get everyone open on the weekend."
The eclectic mix of participating merchants included art galleries, Apricots on Main, the Balance Rock Eatery, Iron Horse Event Center, R&A Market and several more.
In addition to owners, the meeting was attended by Delynn Fielding and Karl Kraync from the Business Expansion and Retention Project. The development officials outlined some options for organizing the association as well as developing their marketing and business skills.
Mayor Dean Armstrong also spoke to the group at length, detailing his ideas for the growth as both mayor and local business owner.
"I would argue that location-wise, I have a harder time bringing traffic in off the highway than anybody on Main Street," explained Armstrong, while going over possible highway signage.
Another main objective of the gathering was to organize what the group plans to call "First Friday." According to early planning, the first of these events will take place on Oct. 5 with all participating operations staying open late and working to create an atmosphere which draws local patrons.
"We are planning to have car hops from the Balance Rock to fit in with a car cruise they are planning," said Cindy Curry, owner of the Balance Rock and Happiness Within. "I think we could really have something special here."
The group plans to meet again in two weeks time to further plan committee action and organize the association.
"I want to jump into this business venture with both feet," concluded Dave Davis, owner of the Iron Horse Event Center. "We are here to stay."