How to avoid a ghost town
‘In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every year there is the power to do it.’
Downtown Corydon is in trouble.
Most businesses had a decent year but were expecting to make some money over the holidays, but the huge snowstorm came at exactly the wrong time, right before Christmas. Several businesses around the town square have either gone out of business or are on the verge.
Something has to be done if Corydon is to survive as a pretty, lively, historic business and tourist destination. It’s time for local business people, the ones who have a stake in the future of Corydon, to step up and take charge of their future. There are many business people in town who have prospered over the years ‘ Corydon has been good to them and their families ‘ and now it’s time for them to put something back into the community in the form of long-term, reliable leadership. This shouldn’t be limited to people who have businesses downtown. There’s no reason why people who have done well outside the downtown or in non-business professions shouldn’t be interested in the future of their community. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, pharmacists, bankers, educators ‘ are you listening?
One way to start is to study the recently adopted Corydon Downtown Revitalization Plan, which makes several recommendations that can be adopted immediately. You can get a copy at the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau office on the square. The simplest and most important recommendations include public meetings to resolve the current downtown parking mess that we have ignored, and another is a meeting to coordinate store hours so all the relevant businesses will be open at a time when most customers want to shop. It’s not rocket science.
Everyone knows the downtown needs some snappy signs that direct visitors and tourists to the places they can’t find at present. We don’t understand why there’s a sign downtown directing visitors to the Old Capital Golf Club but not a local restaurant, gift store, antique mall or First State Capitol. And why is it impossible to get attractive informational signs at the main entrances to Corydon?
We need to organize a business recruitment committee, create a low- interest loan pool for business improvement, provide improvement incentives, and have a ‘landlord summit.’
These public meetings should be called for times when most everyone can attend (another no-brainer), and they should be called by a coalition of business leaders, the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Street Corydon, and the Town of Corydon. Corydon Capital State Historic Site officials should be involved, too. They will get plenty of support from this newspaper.
Businesses and government have got to start banding together, or we will all sink together. In addition to those businesses around the square that have called it quits or are about to, Keller Manufacturing, one of the key elements of Corydon and Harrison County economics for a century, has literally disappeared. A.O. Smith is losing its Ford contract at the end of this year; Oxford Automotive’s future is iffy.
Unless positive changes are put into effect soon with a well-thought-out and coordinated action plan, unless local business leaders step up and take charge of their own community with some practical but visionary goals, we can kiss downtown Corydon goodbye. That would be a tragedy, a terrible burden to leave to later generations.