Jasper’s Downtown Development Authority met last week during a special called meeting to discuss real estate in the downtown area. While the meeting was in executive session and not open to the public, Jasper’s future is on the DDA’s mind and they want to hear from you.
The authority would like to know what residents and local businesses want here so that input can be taken into consideration as they move ahead with real estate and other discussions. One member of the DDA told the Progress a driving goal of theirs is to make Jasper a place to be proud of and a place residents want to bring friends and family to visit. J Cornelius, DDA secretary and treasurer, said the authority is “working to make downtown a cleaner and more enjoyable place to live, work, and play for the people of Jasper.”
Cornelius believes that part of creating a thriving downtown is understanding what local people want, and going from there.
“I’m convinced we need to figure out what’s best for the community and work to make that happen,” he said.
There are no guarantees the DDA can make those needs and desires of the community a reality, Cornelius said, but knowing what they are will help the authority know what direction to focus their efforts.
“We can’t promise everything, but we can be effective if we understand and are aligned with the long-term goals of citizens and business owners in the community,” he said. “We all need to cooperate and support each other for Jasper to be great. I believe in Jasper, and I believe we can do it together.”
Several buildings in the area – some of which are in highly-visible locations – are of key concern because they are vacant, underutilized, and/or unattractive and don’t support the DDA’s trajectory.
Supporting and encouraging local ownership of downtown real estate, rather than sending money out of town to businesses and property owners who don’t live here or support the community, is also important for Cornelius and the DDA board, he said.
If you want weigh in about what you want to see in downtown Jasper, visit the Pickens Progress online at www.pickensprogress.com, or on Facebook or Instagram to take a survey.
The mission of the DDA is to “foster and encourage cooperative public-private efforts to design spaces and landscapes where people can appreciate the jewels of shared historic heritage in order to sustain, grow, develop, and enhance economic prosperity and community well-being. The purpose of the DDA is to develop and promote trade, commerce, industry and employment opportunities within the central business district.”
The DDA is made up of Jasper business owners and citizens. Cornelius owns the First Mountain Tasting Room.
Visit the DDA online at www.jasperdda.org.