Carbondale looks at economic trends

Bob Schultz
Special to the Post Independent

Organizers have compiled the input from “Retail Realities and Downtown Dreams” a community-based workshop on economic development held Nov. 5 in Carbondale.

Almost 60 participants from a broad cross-section of the community discussed economic trends and provided input regarding the future of downtown Carbondale and the town’s retail economy.

Participants identified the architecture and streetscape, local business ownership, active office and professional spaces, artistic opportunities, and dining establishments as strengths of the downtown area.

Limited hours of retail shops, high rents for retail tenants, and the lack of a critical mass of retail stores were identified as downtown weaknesses.

Participants were also asked to rank possible niches for downtown in the larger economy.

Most people favored dining, arts, entertainment and recreation as the future retail purpose of downtown. A need for additional clothing stores was also identified. There is a significant un-served market for apparel in Carbondale.

Given the growth in dining opportunities currently occurring in Carbondale, there was discussion about marketing Carbondale as a “Restaurant Row” which people from throughout the valley would think of first whenever planning an evening on the town. New eateries include a Thai restaurant by the owners of Six89, the new restaurant by the owners of Chefy’s, and the possibility of a new bakery in downtown.

The organizers of the workshop will continue to encourage the town of Carbondale to pursue the National Historic Trust’s Main Street Program for economic development in the town.

The program has been used by hundreds of communities across the United States to create opportunities for new locally-owned businesses and to support investments in downtown.

It has four primary components; one of the components, a design committee, has already been formed and an economic restructuring group is will be initiated in the near future.

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