Utah Main Street has been around for about 10 years and its basic function is to assist communities to begin working towards increased promotions, events, building design and restructuring their economic base. The organization has partnered with nine towns and smaller cities throughout Utah. Towns like American Fork, Moab, Payson, Logan, Mt. Pleasant, and Tooele are involved in it. Helper was one of the first communities to become a Utah Main Street. Together they are playing an active role in building their communities. Coupled with a strong support from city government and a stable, ongoing commitment from their downtown businesses, they work together to strengthen commitments for long-term comprehensive growth.
Before Utah Main Street partners with any community, a series of workshops and meetings are necessary. These consulting services help broaden the base of a project and look at the commitment the community is willing to make.
With this in mind, over the past six months there has been several meetings and more importantly a comprehensive survey that was conducted in the city. Many of the initial efforts to establish Price as a Main Street Community began with Price City officials, but as meetings were held and interest picked up a number of downtown businesses and area agencies have joined the efforts.
The survey was sent to all Price City residents several months ago enclosed with their utility bills, but residents were also able to pick up the survey in a number of other locations as well as "on-line."
Not surprising many people had opinions and were quick to voice them. Over 500 people completed the survey.
What did the city learn from the survey? Where is downtown Price now and where do we want it to be?
There were about a hundred questions and the responses were broken down into age groups. These surveys were grouped in age classificatons 18 to 24; 25 to 35; 35 to 44; and so on.
Key questions included queries such as what are the primary reasons people go to Price's Main Street. Also asked were how often they go, what the selection of merchandise is like, and what time of day most peoples shopping is done. Many other areas were covered as well, such as service, value, promotions and traffic issues. It was also asked what merchants coulddo to make Main Street more inviting.
As I read through the results and studied the analysis there are several conclusions that can be drawn.
First of all, we all know there is leakage (shopping outside the area), and a lot of it. But why are people going to Provo or Salt Lake? Are they traveling over the mountain because they feel the goods or services they need or want are not here? Or are they too expensive?
Another interesting portion of the survey is finding out what services or products people want downtown. It is very clear from the results that people want to see more products. Some things people indicated they want to see in downtown Price include more restaurants, clothing, nursery products, sewing, hobbies and crafts, sporting goods and entertainment.
People indicated they don't like the traffic and travel time to go over the mountain, but on the other hand felt that service could be improved in Price.
Convenience and parking were strong attributes in downtown Price. Selection was Provo's greatest strength.
Respondents told the committee they want to see a couple more anchor stores. They said repeatedly that there was potential for expanded night life and entertainment downtown. They also commented about bringing the lunch crowd onto the sidewalks during the summer months or having some of the specialty shops open one evening a week.
I believe we should take the survey results seriously and look at how we can help our existing businesses. We have a great downtown and a lot of improvements have been done the past two or three years. But should the community join forces with Utah Main Street, will we be able to take our downtown to the next level?
I believe we can and I believe the only way we will get there is to begin working together. Here is your chance to say, "How can my involvement with this committee and make a difference to our future?"
We can put our heads in the sand and deny that we are loosing a lot of valuable dollars over the hill or we can rally as a community and do something about our businesses and services.
I challenge you to be part of the solution and not the problem.