RDA latest group to tackle Plymouth’s downtown

LIKE A LOT OF other things these days, downtowns – including Plymouth’s – are not what they used to be.

Downtown in cities used to be the commercial hub of the surrounding region, the place where everyone went to buy whatever they needed.

But over the years, alternate means of commerce arose that proved more popular with more and more people – shopping malls, big box stores, the Internet.

That left downtowns everywhere struggling to survive somehow.

Plymouth’s downtown has been no different.

It has been a decades-long struggle for downtown Plymouth to find viability and identity, to draw people back to the center of town for whatever reason.

The Redevelopment Authority is the latest group to take up the challenge.

While it is charged with addressing blight and development throughout the city, it has a special focus on the downtown area.

It’s newly-adopted mission statement includes “The Authority has a particular interest in the physical revitalization of downtown Plymouth as an inviting atmosphere which encompasses not only buildings but also streetscapes, parking areas, signage, sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and green spaces.”

Their latest effort in that direction has been to engage marketing consultant Stacy Tuescher to develop a Facebook page dedicated solely to downtown Plymouth businesses — https://www.facebook.com/plymouthwimarketplace.

Tuescher met with the RDA earlier this month and reported that response to the Facebook page has received a lot of good feedback.

But that’s just a start, she added. Plymouth needs to market downtown outside the area to bring in visitors and customers.

Unfortunately, as she was quick to point out, downtown business owners don’t have the time to conduct the necessary marketing. As Tuescher put it, “They wear so many hats, sometimes the marketing hat falls off.”

The goal, one the RDA has discussed before, would be to have a downtown manager to coordinate such marketing efforts and general promotion.

The problem is that such a person would cost money – and where would that money come from?

There are ways – be it a business improvement district, voluntary donations, grant funds or more – but it takes will and a strong desire to do something.

Downtown Plymouth has plenty worth promoting. It may not, as RDA member Jerry Thompson noted, have a major anchor business to act as a magnet.

But it does have unique attractions – including two dozen one-ofa kind murals, a winding riverwalk, unique stores, an arts center, a history museum – that can draw visitors and their money.

It won’t be our grandparents’ downtown, but it still can be a vital and vibrant downtown.

At issue:
Promoting downtown
Bottom line:
Will take money and effort

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