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Working to Make Things Better

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | July 8, 2014
Working to Make
Things Better
Burnap Collage Picture 
A Design Team Project and a Business Enhancement Program work to improve Emporia!
Successful and positive changes are generally achieved in a three step process. 1. Identify the problem.  2. Plan for a long term solution.  3.  Implement the solution.  The first step is easy…  A lot of people can identify problems in any system.  The second step is harder.  You don't want to create additional problems via your solution or risk making a problem worse.  The third step is the hardest part of the change equation.  Implementing a solution requires a more than talk, you must take action.
We will discuss two initiatives through two different Emporia Main Street Teams, the Design and Business Enhancement Team, designed to address specific problems in the community. 
Problem 1- Boarded up or covered windows makes a town look dilapidated, lowers property values and prevents reasonable upper story usage.  Some people have decided simply to place a covering on top of a window to hide the state of the windows beneath, but that really doesn't fix the problem.  Additionally, a metal or wood covering really does very little to insulate from sound, heat or cold.  Dilapidation in a single property (commercial or residential) does have a real impact on the value of surrounding properties.  Likewise, improvements to a property can raise the perceived value of surrounding properties.
Plan 1.- Develop a Design Team Work Project to demonstrate exposed windows and showcase the difference that uncovered windows can make from a "street appeal" standpoint.  The Design Team at Emporia Main StreetBurnap Windowstakes on yearly demonstration projects that create real and noticeable results on a meager budget with local volunteers.  We want to talk through and walk through a project to ensure that we won't cause damage to a building or area through a work project.
Solution 1.- Execute a volunteer heavy work day to remove all window obstructions and create a safe interim environment for the windows.  Follow up with funding options for permanent rebuilds on windows and adaptive reuse of the upper story.  This project took A LOT of volunteers- Matt Lowery, Steve Hanschu, Smitty Smith, Tracy Holroyd, Eric Weltha, Rod Russell, Becky Smith, Lynn Knechtel, Justin Mallon, Brad Knechtel, Ben Moore, Ken Martell and others spent an entire day cleaning, removing plywood, exposing windows, calking, securing and more.  It was an undertaking.  But, working from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., we were able to transform a covered window area into a more original look.  Experts on hand walked the building owner through some rebuild options for windows, and we will continue to meet on adaptive reuse options for the upper story.   Click HERE for a photo album of the project.
It is our hope that other building owners see the before and after difference and contact Emporia Main Street for design assistance in exposing their upper stories (uncovering windows, removing false metal facades, etc.)  If you are interested in help from the Design Team, contact Emporia Main Street at [email protected] .
Problem 2- Incomplete building information prevents easy access by potential renters or buyers of commercial property from obtaining information they need to make better placement decisions.  Emporia Main Street is not a real estate company (nor do we want to be), but we can help our local real estate agents by linking building information to incentive programs, planning documents, market date and additional information relevant to potential building investors or businesses.  Information generated in forms should come directly from property owners to ensure accuracy.  Property owners that wish to market their properties need only to fill out fields listed within a form, and we can plug in additional information for use in a web page of property listings.  Those that don't wish to participate simply loose a free marketing opportunity.
Plan 2- Create a property owner form to include basic property and contact information.  The form will include a digital format, or we can print forms for For Rentwritten submission by property owners (although picture submission would be difficult).  Work with member real estate agencies to ensure their prominent connection with properties to facilitate sales or rentals.
Solution 2-  Please click the following form (CLICK HERE)to submit property information for any rental or purchase property.  We will take information received and create an additional page on the Emporia Main Street web site for properties available.  We will rely on property owners to change the status of property listings and maintain the accuracy of listings.  Properties without listings will simply miss out on a free marketing opportunity for their properties.
We hope a more complete and flexible listing system will allow for more passive research from individuals looking at renting or purchasing properties within Emporia.  The Business Enhancement Team will monitor the usage of the property system and make changes to the system per recommendations by property owners, real estate agents and potential renters/purchasers of property.


Every community has plans that "sit on a shelf gathering dust" orMain Street Logoparticipate in "feel good" activities that don't really solve for a problem.  Successful communities roll up their sleeves and find ways to identify, plan and execute strategies to improve their community.  The work isn't always glamorous, but it is necessary.  If you want to participate in all three phases of community change, consider joining one of the Emporia Main Street "Teams".  We have people making a difference in Design, Business Enhancement, Promotions and Organization.  Would you like to actually get some things done to help your community?  Contact Emporia Main Street and we can find a way to get you involved!  Give us an e-mail at [email protected] for more information.


About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.


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