Jackson's uptown dreaming is step-by-step process

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The city of Jackson has been selected as one of Missouri's DREAM communities. In 2006 several state agencies discussed way to assist small to mid-sized communities in economic development, with an emphasis on revitalizing downtown districts. The city of Cape Girardeau was selected in the first group of 10 cities in 2006. DREAM stands for Downtown (only in Jackson it's called Uptown) Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri. This initiative offers assistance with technical planning and help in accessing state programs for achieving the city's revitalization goals.

With encouragement and the support of the planning staff of the city of Cape Girardeau and the consultants for our recently adopted comprehensive plan, our planning and building superintendent Janet Sanders prepared the application for nomination as a DREAM community. The city of Jackson was awarded the grant for $179,904, with the city providing a 20 percent match. All of these funds are solely dedicated to the planning project for uptown Jackson, to be completed by PGAV planners over the next three years.

Since each city is unique, the first step in this process is to work with the uptown businesses and residents as principal stakeholders, various community groups, and other interested citizens to develop recommendations that lead to a revitalization plan. The work of PGAV planners is customized for the specific community and includes many components, such as residential and retail market analyses, streetscape and building design, financial projections, uptown marketing and destination assessments. All this work culminates in an uptown strategic plan, which turns all the recommendations into a step-by-step process.

The strategic plan will be presented to the local government for adoption as representing the culmination of three years of citizen input and professional planning leading to the city's vision and revitalization goals for uptown Jackson. The Jackson Uptown Redevelopment Organization is currently being formed. There are 15 board members with Adam Ross serving as president. They have established a mission statement and are developing a set of bylaws. They intend to form an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit entity so they can apply for additional grants and accept donations. This entity will be able to work with PGAV to locate and apply for funding opportunities to implement the strategic plan. While our contract through the DREAM initiative is for a three-year period, the relationships we establish with the government and not-for-profit agencies will continue to benefit us for years to come.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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