Community involvement key in boosting downtown

Published 7:42 pm Friday, January 9, 2015

Main Street Alabama, a nonprofit organization with a knack for revitalizing downtown areas, was in town this week to evaluate the heart of Selma and determine what we can do to strengthen the Queen City.

They held a strategy workshop at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library to get feedback from citizens and talked to business owners and city leaders during their trip.

It’s going to be fascinating to read the results when they finish analyzing the data they gathered. If you ask 100 people what Selma needs to do to “fix” or improve its downtown area, it wouldn’t be surprising to get over 100 entirely different answers.

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Of course, if it was that simple many of Selma’s problems would’ve went by the wayside years ago.

Members of Main Street Alabama spoke at an alumni lunch for Leadership Selma-Dallas County Thursday and briefly shared some of their findings. Among them were core strengths — Main Street said there were two pages of positives — like the expanding riverfront, Arsenal Place and the vast majority of people and organizations working hard to promote Selma and help it reach its full potential in the 21st century.

Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the perceived weaknesses was communication between all of those doing successful work, a problem that other cities face as well.

That’s not an easy problem to fix, but better communication would be a major first step and perhaps a key in Selma’s progression.

There are a lot of people who think they are experts on how to improve Selma right now, especially with all the attention the movie “SELMA” is bringing to the city.

Everybody, including those seemingly worlds away, seems to have an opinion on why Selma’s population has decreased over the last 50 years or why a large portion of those in Dallas County live below the poverty level.

That’s what happens when you’re in the spotlight, something Selma should get used to for 2015, but we think it’s best to stick with those who have a stake in the future of our city.

Main Street programs are locally driven and funded and include a lot of say from business owners and citizens.

Selma isn’t going anywhere without the input of its citizens and a community driven effort to make necessary changes. Luckily the city is receiving plenty of both.