Business development group in the works
One thing is for sure. If Tonganoxie is going to revitalize downtown, it’s going to take the effort from more than just elected officials.
In order to accomplish the goals set out by Bucher Willis and Ratliff, the city’s planning firm, people from city hall, as well as private business owners and the general public will need to work together to bring life back into the city, according to people at Monday night’s retail development meeting.
“I think we have a lot of folks doing a lot of great work in Tonganoxie, but sometimes we all move in different directions,” Councilmember Jason Ward said during the meeting. “It seems as if we are not always on the same page and we can’t put everybody in a room and move lockstep.”
To accomplish the goal of revitalizing Tonganoxie’s business economy, Mayor Mike Vestal, Ward and Councilmember Tom Putthoff, along with 16 other people attending the meeting, were in favor of creating a business development organization.
Although the exact details of the organization have not been hammered out, the organization’s members will consist of one member from the city and from the Tonganoxie Planning Commission, members from the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce, members of the general public and local business owners.
One of the major hurdles this organization will have to face is functioning on the cheap.
“I’m not saying the city’s broke, but at this point I can’t say here is pot of money you can use,” City Administrator Mike Yanez said Monday about the city’s coffers.
He said the city is running on neutral until the end of the first quarter to see what kind of financial shape it will be in the future. So, it unlikely will be able to fund certain things in the plan, such as marketing and a tourism director or planning for a large marketing campaign for the city.
“It does take money to market, but a lot of it is about energy and consistency,” Ward said as he suggested using things such as blogs and Web pages to advertise Tonganoxie.
“You try to have a plan and you try to put yourself in places where you think people are going to be looking for information. There are ways to do it without spending a lot of money.”
He said that the plan may not quickly put money in the registers of local businesses, but his hope is that it eventually will.
BWR began its research after a unanimous decision by the Tonganoxie City Council to pay the planning firm $33,700 for a report that was completed late last year.
For more information about joining the development organization, call Patty Hagg at (913) 845-2620.