Downtown Myrtle Creek.JPG

Buildings on N. Main St. in downtown Myrtle Creek are reflected in a window where Trudy Coleman sets up a display at her recently opened shop, Trudy's Treasures on Wednesday. Rural Development Initiatives are helping to organize a group of Myrtle Creek and Tri City community members who are hoping to develop vacant properties downtown so they are more attractive to potential biz owners.

MYRTLE CREEK — Community members of Myrtle Creek and the 97457 zip code area met Monday evening and decided to revitalize the area’s economy through three key priorities: improving the community’s image with marketing, revitalizing and redeveloping properties and marketing to visitors.

It was their second meeting in the Rural Development Initiatives’ 90-day Economic Vitality Roadmap process, meant to help the community work toward its unified goals.

Mary Bosch, director of the program, described this step in the three-part process as choosing “what we want to impact now in our history of Myrtle Creek,” while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

“I’m excited about the three areas that we have so far decided to focus on. These are big subjects,” Bosch said.

Community marketing is meant to advertise the area as a nice place to live and work, property redevelopment entails making buildings more presentable to potential business owners and tourists and visitor marketing will try to bring tourists from off the nearby freeway and into local businesses.

Bosch and RDI program coordinator Dan Varcoe spoke about what other Oregon towns have done. For example, Prineville made videos to highlight downtown businesses and Oakridge proclaimed itself as “the mountain biking capital of the northwest” with 350 miles of bikeable logging roads.

“Different communities learn from each other, that’s one of the advantages of RDI,” Varcoe said, adding that the towns can borrow ideas from each other and share techniques.

Shelley Martinez, who owns Fancy That in Myrtle Creek with her husband Tony, said property redevelopment is important to her.

“When we were bringing in our business, we looked at a lot of vacant places, but they were really run down and would’ve taken a lot to get ready,” Martinez said.

The attendees broke into three groups, representing each of the categories and began to brainstorm ideas for potential projects.

“As a group we can achieve more than on our own,” said Nicky Ripley, owner of WalkAbout Hooves.

The community marketing committee discussed collecting community input and creating a community calendar and online business testimonials, the property development group thought of improving signage, benches and awnings and the visitor marketing committee talked about working with local wineries and advertising Myrtle Creek as a day-trip destination.

“I’m very pleased at how many people gave their time to come,” said Myrtle Creek Mayor Ken Brouillard. “I’m excited about the three groups we broke up into and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 30 days brings as these groups work to accomplish those immediate goals.”

Bosch estimated about 230 people have participated in the process so far. As of Monday, RDI received 108 surveys in which people defined their top priorities for action. Feedback is still welcome, and the survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/mcevsurvey.

Bosch said she hopes more people will get involved, even just to check out the process.

The next meeting is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Myrtle Creek Community Center. Each committee will choose one or two projects to realistically accomplish in the short term.

Reporter Emily Hoard can be reached at 541-957-4217 or ehoard@nrtoday.com. Or follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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Outdoors and Natural Resources Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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