Thurday, November 5, 2009
Main Street plans to seek contributors
By SUE WATSON
Clencie Cotton and Tim Liddy, both who helped spearhead Holly Springs Main Street, recently updated Rotarians on the status of the program.
Cotton said downtown business managers and owners will have to kick in their participation for the program to get off the ground.
Without a current executive director because of lack of funds, Main Street organizers will be visiting businesses asking for membership dues, he and Liddy said.
The historic preservation model has been shown to help revitalize downtown economies across the United States that lost out during urban sprawl years, a popular growth model of the American economy which of late has seen itself unable to be sustained by bubbles and bursts.
Last summer, marketing and design experts worked with community leaders to draw up a design for downtown Holly Springs and develop attractive and unique brands. Four committees were established, then Main Street ran out of money to pay a director and the program has lain fallow since.
“We would like to get into a position to hire a paid staff,” Cotton said.
Liddy said it is now time for the business community and private land owners to step up and participate.
“It is time to solicit memberships,” he said. “Rust College has paid the organizational dues. If we are going to succeed, we have to go out and talk with business owners and property owners and the county. As Clencie has said, ‘We’re not going anywhere. This city is going to be here. We have to maintain our community.’ ”
Liddy added that what happens downtown affects business outside the Main Street district.
Dues will be based on the number of employees and size of a business, Liddy said. There has been talk of combining the membership dues of the chamber of commerce with those of Main Street.
Up for the second half of the program at the Rotary Club were Val Schott, with the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health, and Gerald A. Doeksen, with Oklahoma State University, who have been conducting a survey of rural healthcare services and delivery in Marshall County and how it impacts the economy.
Schott said the public often does not think about the healthcare industry as an economic driver for rural communities, but the industry is the largest in Marshall County contributing $20.3 million in the county when hospitals, clinics, medical professionals, pharmacies and medical products are all taken together.
As a job provider the industry has 144 employed with the local hospital, 20 employed as physicians and dentists, 289 employed in other health and medial services and 49 employed in pharmacies and durable medical products. The total number employed in healthcare industry is 621, Schott said.
Of some $24.1 million spent on healthcare services in the county, $6.2 million of that is spent in stores and cycles sales tax dollars back into the local economy.
A random telephone survey done by a private company attempted to pinpoint where people go for health services and why.
“Your biggest problem is people running to Memphis for primary care,” said Doeksen.
Those who go outside the county cited private physicians, specialists a better quality physician and insurance as reasons for getting care out of county.
Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said there are enough primary health care doctors in the county.
Bottomline, anything that improves and expands healthcare will improve the economy, Doeksen said.
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