Main Street advocates are commonly asked by city governments and businesses, “Why should we invest in downtown?” In response, here are a few reasons why your downtown neighborhood commercial district is an important and worthwhile investment in the economic health and quality of life in your community.
- Main Streets are a symbol of community economic health, local quality of life, pride, and community history. These are all factors in industrial, commercial, and professional recruitment.
- A vital Main Street retains and creates jobs, which also means a stronger tax base. Long-term revitalization establishes capable businesses that use public services and province tax revenues for the community.
- Main Streets are a good incubator for new small businesses – the building blocks of a healthy economy. Strip centers and malls are often too expensive for new entrepreneurs.
- A vital Main Street area battles sprawl by concentrating retail in one area and uses community resources wisely. Tax dollars have already been spent on existing infrastructure; reuse of land in downtown protects precious greenfields.
- A healthy Main Street core protects property values in surrounding residential neighborhoods.
- The traditional commercial district is an ideal location for independent businesses, which:
- Keep profits in town. Chain businesses send profits out of town.
- Support local family businesses owners.
- Support local community projects, such as ball teams and schools.
- Provide an extremely stable economic foundation, as opposed to a few large businesses and chains with no ties to stay in the community.
- A revitalized Main Street increases the community’s options for goods and services whether for basic staples like clothing, food and professional events or housing and entertainment.
- Main Streets provide an important civic forum, where members of the community can congregate. Parades, special events, and celebrations held there reinforce a sense of community. Private developments like malls can and do restrict free speech and access.
- Main Street districts become tourist attractions by virtue of the character of buildings, location, selection of unique businesses, and events held there.
The Design Committee of Our Haven Foundation, Inc. is working to create an attractive, coordinated and quality image of downtown Schuylkill Haven; an area where people will want to spend their time. One of Design’s objectives in its 5-year Action Plan is to make the downtown more suitable for sitting, resting & relaxation by purchasing and installing park benches.
The Design Committee researched bench styles and prices and settled on a 6 ft. Hampton Bench made of recycled plastic lumber boards and powder-coated cast aluminum frames. Pricing included the cost of the benches, shipping and handling, and the cost of bronze sponsorship plaques. The benches are guaranteed for 50 years. Our members canvassed business owners in the central business district to obtain permission to install the benches on the sidewalks in front of their buildings. We also worked with the Borough of Schuylkill Haven to purchase, assemble and install the benches.
During the course of the project, several other organizations expressed interest in sponsoring a bench. In early October 2012, five benches were installed in downtown Schuylkill Haven at the following locations:
107 East Main Street – Valenti’s II
17 East Main Street – Economic Development Office
1 East Main Street – Stine’s Pharmacy
20 East Main Street – The Jungle
17 St. John Street – Edward Jones Investments
Funding for this project was supplied by a grant from the Zwerling Community Trust (3 benches), Greater Schuylkill Haven Area Business Association (one bench), and Schuylkill Haven Midget Cheerleaders (one bench). Photographs of the benches and an October 23, 2012 article from the Pottsville Republican Herald follow.