Downtown Shakedown

Krista Tschetter

Krista Tschetter


It used to be the heart and soul of small towns across the country.

But as discount mega stores, corporations and restaurant franchises began to fringe the outskirts of towns, shoppers were enticed by convenience and lower prices.

Many small towns paid the price and businesses began closing down.

Luckily, dowtown Brookings stays fairly busy.

But there is room for improvement, according to Doris Roden, program manager for Downtown Brookings, Inc. (DBI).

DBI, created about two-and-a-half years ago, is a committee designed to “stimulate downtown economic development in Brookings” according to its mission statement.

The group is funded by city and county sources, community members, property and business owners and several industries.

DBI will take steps to encourage cooperation and build leadership in the community by creating a positive downtown image.

It will also work to improve the appearance and expand the economic base of downtown.

According to Roden, the idea of the program was well received by downtown business. When the proposal was first made to the Brookings City Council, 86 percent of all major businesses downtown offered some form of support, many going on to become “investors.”

Roden said South Dakota State University students’ heavy utilization of downtown resources is also being being considered.

“We are more consciously trying to remember our students … in everything we do,” Roden said.

Student Association Vice President Ben Solomon is a liaison of the group.

“It’s easy for student to feel left out of city organization,” Solomon said.

“It’s a nice thing to see them include us at every step.”

DBI has already organized student promotional ideas such as Thumpin’ Thursday last fall.

The committee is affiliated with a national Main Street Program created to help interested towns revitalize their downtowns.

According to Roden, the committee uses the national program’s four step approach: organization, promotion, design and economic enhancement, which includes property development.

DBI also took their first step beyond the planning stages this week. Volunteers began doing a downtown market analysis that involves gathering information about property value, square footage, type of business, services and assistance needed.

The information will be put into a downtown database that will thoroughly describe each business. DBI will then use the information to act essentially as a manager who can assist realtors, developers and new businesses.

Committee representatives will also create profiles of typical customers at each business and compare them to census information figure out who’s shopping where and what they want more of.

“Part of the market analysis will be to determine what it is students are getting, and what they are not getting,” said Roden.

Once the downtown economy is detailed, DBI representatives will create a “business retention campaign” to provide assistance and training, as well as opportunities to expand and possible new businesses to recruit.

#1.887647:2401008628.jpg:downtown.jpg:A window shopper passes by The Frame Gallery in downtown Brookings.: