The new website for the Downtown Roseburg Association is live at downtownroseburgassociation.org.

But the nonprofit association didn’t have a website for nearly three months after the original domain, downtownroseburg.org, expired and was purchased by onamae.com, a Japanese-based company. The company is offering to sell the domain for $499.

+2 
Downtown Roseburg Association gets new website after failing to renew domain

This image shows the homepage of onamae.com, the company based in Japan that now owns the previous web domain of the Downtown Roseburg Association, downtownroseburg.org.

Susie Johnston-Forte was hired as the executive director of the association this summer after the former director, Alyssa McConnel, was fired for being critical of city government.

Johnston-Forte said the DRA has failed to deliver on some of its objectives, which are mandated by the city’s contract with the association, such as maintaining a functioning website with the domain downtownroseburg.org. Since she became the director, Johnston-Forte said she and the board of directors have focused on creating a financial sustainability plan and developing new membership incentives.

The association was created by the city in 2010 to promote businesses and nonprofits in Roseburg through promotional advertising, events, social media and online networking, according to the nonprofit’s contract with the city. It is part of the national Main Street Program, which seeks to revitalize the economies of historic neighborhoods. The DRA receives $22,500 — a third of its annual income — from the city’s hotel/motel tax.

“It was just a total accidental thing,” Johnston-Forte said about not renewing the original web domain. “It was one of the things, of a handful of things, that fell through the cracks when this changeover happened.”

During the public comment portion of city council meeting Monday, McConnel, the former DRA director, voiced her frustration with the association’s failure to deliver on some of its mandates since she was fired.

McConnell said the DRA hasn’t maintained an adequate online presence, produced a monthly newsletter, helped decorate storefronts or organize events that have happened in the past, such as wine walks and Small Business Saturday. Last weekend, Roseburg businesses participated in Small Business Saturday — the national event to encourage shopping at small businesses — by providing discounts to customers, but the DRA didn’t publicize the event.

“These things not only help businesses, but they also fulfill the contract of why the city pays $22,500 from the economic development fund from the hotel/motel tax for tourism,” McConnel said. “Events bring tourism.”

Johnston-Forte said there have been challenges with continuity and delivering on their contractual obligations since she became the director. But she said she’s happy will the progress the association is making to ensure a thriving downtown.

“We’re building,” Johnston-Forte said. “It’s been four months, and I wish with all my might that we could be further along than we are.”

She points to the new business sustainability plan she put together as an example of how the board is working toward to longterm stability of the DRA. In the past, all businesses paid a flat rate to be a member of the association. The DRA received $8,400 in membership dues last year. The new plan includes levels of membership, in which business pay based on the number of benefits they want.

Johnston-Forte said the new website is a work in progress being developed by Justin Deedon, who is on the DRA board and runs Umpqua Technology Nexus.

Deedon said that he’s currently working on an interactive map to highlight member businesses.

“The website will be a lot more user-friendly,” Deedon said. “It’s going to be a work in progress, I mean all of this is going to be a work in progress.”

React to this story:

3
4
2
2
2

City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

(5) comments

Rise722

Seems to me that the City replaced a competent person (whom spoke out) with an incompetent "Yes Person."

BetsyC

One would think the folks with the DRA would understand that maintaining compliance with any contracts would take priority over development a sustainability plan. Someone with the new ED's experience could be able to step in and do want is necessary in less than four months. Making sure one knows what one needs to take of now would be first on the list. In this day and age, that means online presence being maintained.

This would not only include contract compliance but also making sure that activities that had been started were continued. For example, there was a lot of money raised last year from this community and a lot of volunteers who worked lots of hours to put up lights downtown, but where are they this year?
The city needs to be taking a look at the DRA and assess whether we should be giving them any taxpayer money at all. Even the issues around the former ED firing should make everyone concerned about whether this organization knows how to take care of business.

Unfortunately Ms. Johnson Forte is in a mess created by others. The problems with the DRA are the result of failed leadership at the Board of Directors level and maybe a city unwilling to hold them accountable for what is important.

Mogie

Can't argue with your logic. Good points.

nr77

McConnell could run circles around the current director. Too bad the city so foolishly let her go, she did an awesome job and told it the way it was. Forgot the website? What an empty excuse. Actions speak louder than words. So sorry the downtown businesses have had to suffer through this. what was the old stomping grounds of many locals for decades is no more, just a place to drive through and get out of, eat lunch now and then. There are no anchor shopping stores like Penneys and Newberrys, no Pay Less, Toggery, Howards Mens Wear, Luvernes, toy store, or grocery store, etc.

pwchoices

“It was just a total accidental thing,” Johnston-Forte said about not renewing the original web domain." Can't get something simple like this completed??? Can't remember the last time went walking/shopping down town. The homelessness is rampant.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.