A concerted look at bringing two West Jefferson downtown development groups together is a wise decision.
The two groups are the West Jefferson Community Partnership and West Jefferson Small Towns Main Street Program. Each has slightly different emphasis in its approach to doing the same thing, improving the business climate of downtown.
The two groups met a little over a week ago to talk about how they might meet together on how to pursue their primary objective and work as subcommittees to use their specific talents to carryout projects the subcommittees can do best.
They also emphasize preserving the cultural and historic integrity of the place.
Like many small towns across the South, West Jefferson has found that its unique qualities, wrapped up in its culture and history, are an attractive feature.
They are attractive to locals and visitors alike when struck in the proper balance. Ashe is like no other place on earth. We need to accentuate the positive elements of our culture and history and and put them to use perpetuating not only a sound economy but a sound atmosphere for learning, talent development, worship and just plain living.
With the proper blend of efforts, the two already active groups that are coming together, are likely to be the best ones to pursue the goal.
Many towns have pursued downtown redevelopment with much less success than West Jefferson.
This community has made fast work of refilling storefronts. Most people say downtown has made a resurgence in the last five years
West Jefferson has done more in that five years than other small towns have done in a decade. The success seems to be a strong one, on a strong foundation in terms of creating a community immersed in the arts.
That is showing real signs of creating Ashe as a destination for visitors.
With the loss of furniture and other production jobs, attracting the dollars of visitors will be an important part of our economy. It is largely built on our uniqueness but will require some flexibility in continuing to make the place more welcoming to visitors.
That will require balance, to sort out some of the difficulties that come with inviting visitors to town.
That’s why our redevelopment community’s efforts at preserving culture and history are important to keep what is best about West Jefferson and embrace something new that will help us survive and grow.