ROCK SPRINGS – Bringing downtown areas around the state back to life has been a focus for several communities throughout Wyoming. On Tuesday, both the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency and Wyoming Main Street spoke about the progress.
This year will mark the tenth year of the Wyoming Main Street Program and Director Mary Randolf spoke about the progress and why revitalizing downtown areas is important. Randolf said there are several important reasons why downtowns are important. Employment, community pride, money, business, history, a gathering place and public and private investments were all mentioned by Randolf.
Thought the entire state, Randolf said Main Street programs have logged over 165,356 volunteer hours which would be valued at $3.4 million. There are also thousands of buildings that have been rehabbed and $95.8 million invested in private and public investments in downtowns across the state.
For Rock Springs, there have been over 30,400 volunteer hours logged. Rock Springs has had over 200 building’s rehabbed in the downtown area and has 82 businesses which provide 282 jobs to this community.
Randolf said Rock Springs is lucky to have Chad Banks as the driving force in Rock Springs.
“He brings so much enthusiasm,” Randolf said.
Randolf also reported to the council she will be retiring in February.
Mayor Carl Demshar praised Randolf for her work not only in Rock Springs but throughout the state. He said the council feels the same way about Banks and noted things have grown leaps and bounds in the downtown since Banks took the helm.
“We can’t say enough about what he is doing,” Demshar said. “For someone who grew up here it’s kinda fun to see the downtown regenerate again.”
After Randolf’s report, Banks gave the council the local 2014 report. He said while it is the eighth year Rock Springs has been part of the Main Street Program, this year marked the tenth year the Urban Renewal Agency has been in place.
“We have came a long way,” Banks said.
Some of the highlights of 2014 for the downtown area included 18 renovations projects totaling $4 million which were completed, 11 new businesses opened in downtown creating 14 full-time jobs and eight, part-time jobs, over 2,500 volunteer hours valued at $56,000 and for every dollar spent by the Rock Springs Main Street/URA, another $3.60 was reinvested downtown by businesses, building owners, non-profits and the city of Rock Springs.
Banks also spoke about some accomplishments in 2014. From a new downtown logo and website to the new programs started this year were all mentioned.
Banks said the Kentucky Derby Party netted nearly $20,000 which will go right back into the downtown in facade and paint grant opportunities. Sweetwater Blues and Brews grossed over $40,000 with attendance topping 1,300 this year. Other accomplishments included winning the Wyoming Main Street program for the Event of the year for the Downtown Burger Challenge, Carlo Harryman being named Entrepreneur of the Year for Sweetwater NOW which is located in the downtown, Bunning park and First Security Bank feasibility study and a “Volunteer of the Month” recognition award program just to name a few.
Some of the 2015 goals include continuing to diversify the downtown, continue to analyze the effectiveness of the URA/Main Street events, diversify and increase funding sources to be used for project work, fixing up vacant lots while continue to preserve the history which makes downtown Rock Springs unique.
Banks said nothing can be done without strong partnerships. A list of sponsors and partners were included in the report. Banks noted many of the sponsors are not located in the downtown but believe strongly in what the city is doing,
Demshar also added he recently walked through the Bunning Depot Building with Banks and the city is excited about opening another great building in the downtown area.
For a complete look at the Rock Springs Main Street/URA downtown report go to http://www.downtownrs.com/p/about/258