Downtown Gadsden Shows Growth in 2011

January 4, 2012 mray Blog

By
Times Staff Writer

Despite a slow economy, downtown Gadsden showed growth in 2011
with 13 new businesses opening, according to Brittany Abrams Megois,
marketing and development manager for Downtown Gadsden Inc.

One business closed during the year, Megois said, so there was a net gain of 12 businesses downtown.

That does not includes the Gadsden Christian Bookstore, which has announced plans to close after 32 years downtown.

Twenty-three new downtown businesses opened and eight closed in 2010, according to DGI records.

Megois
said DGI continues to offer façade and sign grants for new and existing
businesses to improve the look of their buildings and help identify
them. The grants pay up to $3,000 or 50 percent of the cost for façade
work and up to $1,000 or 50 percent for signage.

During
2011, Megois said, $25,638.38 was awarded to 25 businesses as
reimbursement for façade and sign work based on a reported $56,526.39
spent by the merchants on improvements.

Megois
said the renovation of the Pitman Theatre by the city of Gadsden was
completed in March. Groups now can rent the theater as a venue for
various events and activities.

Downtown
Gadsden Inc. contributed to the renovation through a $9,100 grant from
District 28 Etowah County Community Development Committee.

These funds provided a screen, projector and additional equipment for the theater.

“These improvements breathed new life into the landmark theater which stays rented throughout the upcoming year,” Megois said.

DGI
Director Kay Moore said, “I think Downtown Gadsden has become the place
to be because of all the positive things we try to continue. We are
trying as always to add more and more things.

“We’re continuing to grow, we
need to continue to bring people back,” she said. “The more we have
(downtown), the more opportunities for different things that we have,
the more shopping experiences that people can come to.”

Moore said she hopes people will come downtown more often and not just for special events.

“What
I hope in 2012 is that people will learn it’s OK to walk up and down
the street and look,” Moore said. “You don’t have to park right in front
of the store where you’re going.”

She said walking downtown and window shopping is “good retail therapy.”

Moore
said DGI already has a calendar full of events for 2012, helped by a
$10,000 grant awarded by the Alabama Tourism Department.

First Friday will take off January and February, but will start back in March.

“We’re going to encourage people in January and February to come downtown during the day on First Friday,” Moore said.

DGI’s
annual Chili Cook-Off will be held Feb. 4, according to Moore, and the
Third Thursday concert series will begin in May and run through October.

The Downtown Art Experience will return Sept. 21 and 22.

This
year’s inaugural event drew artists from around the Southeast who spent
their time painting in plein air downtown, specifically in the Chestnut
Street district, as well as local residents who watched them paint.

Also
returning in 2012 will be the Howl-O-Weenie Paw-ty Oct. 17, two
Literary pub crawls and Christmas on Broad and Beyond Nov. 15-17.

Origianl Article Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.