Downtown Partners wants residents to offer ideas for change

Published 12:09 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

After forming in March and meeting monthly since, theDowntown Partners advisory panel voted Tuesday to host its first project, a campaign to increase foot traffic on Washington Street.

“We’ve been meeting for about four or five months,” said Larry Gawronski, the VenuWorks employee who serves as executive director of the Vicksburg Convention Center and Vicksburg Auditorium. “And I want to continue brainstorming while we focus some of those thoughts into processes or some action steps.”

The project, called Picture Yourself Downtown, will ask residents to suggest ideas for downtown businesses.

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“Our group, as visionaries, comes up with a lot of ideas,” Gawronski said. “I hope that this may be one that, not only we adopt formally, but is carried through for all of downtown. Maybe this Picture Yourself in Downtown might be something we can hang our hat on.”

No date has been set for the campaign.

“With hundreds of people who come down, perhaps, this will create some excitement with them about what’s going on downtown,” said David Day, owner and operator of the Klondyke on Washington Street.

Meanwhile, members agreed the panel should continue meetings with other economic development organizations to balance residential, commercial and entertainment interests along Washington Street.

The advisory panel has met with members of the Vicksburg Main Street Program, Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I think the best action step is meeting with the fourth piece of the puzzle, the (Vicksburg Warren County) Economic Development Foundation,” Gawronski said, “and inviting the other three, which are the chamber, VCVB and Main Street, to, again continue our vision while having these groups, who are already in place doing things.”

Downtown Partners, a 15-member group of downtown business owners and residents, was formed last fall by Mayor Paul Winfield after a series of public hearings concerning a downtown restaurant that wanted to include a bar.

Since forming, the group has persistently discussed the economic potential of the five-block Washington Street strip, but abandoned the idea of becoming a business improvement district, similar to one in Jackson, where a group operates on a budget and provides security and promotes downtown residency and economic development.

Vicksburg’s Downtown Partners has no budget.