Chamber seeks economic check-up

Streeter officers ‘Downtown Inc.’ plan to council

Gazette file photo Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Todd Streeter hosts "ChamberChat" from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on KLBB-AM 1220. Streeter said the program features businesses and organizations making a difference in the St. Croix Valley.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Todd Streeter presented an update and sought help for what he called “Downtown Inc.” from Stillwater City Council Tuesday.

Streeter presented research the Chamber’s downtown revitalization subcommittee has done on companies that can help with three surveys to identify the necessary downtown business mix to keep the area vibrant and advance Main Street economically.

“Right now, downtown Stillwater has a reputation of being a revolving door of businesses which is not something we want to persist.” Streeter said.

Streeter said the surveys would include how much actual business space is downtown. He added that many committee members are be willing to look into that question with the help of the city and county.

The proposed surveys would need some funding help and include a downtown business owner survey to determine who’s working there, and a market analysis looking at who shops downtown and from where they are from, according to Streeter. Both surveys would result in a business mix recommendation that could help potential business owners know what works in the downtown area. He likened the process to a check-up.

“These surveys would help us understand how downtown is performing, functioning and how healthy it is. We go in for our own physical check-up every year and this would be like an economic check-up for downtown,” Streeter said. “We’d look at the assets and reports in totality and we’d see how we’re performing. We’d get expert help to see how downtown is incorporated in the surrounding areas, who comes and from where and the business mix survey would give us a baseline of data that we couldn’t achieve on our own.”

The two companies Streeter found are Maxfield Research Inc. and McComb Group, Ltd. Documents indicate cost estimates for the three surveys came in at  $25,000 to $32,500 from Maxfield. The McComb Group listed the following individual costs for the surveys: Downtown business owner survey: $11,800; market analysis, $23,100, and business mix recommendation, $24,900

Streeter said if the council chooses to help pay for the surveys, the work would fall under city control

Mayor Ken Harycki said the surveys could be a good use of collected Convention and Visitor’s Bureau funds.

Although the idea intrigued council members, Councilman Mike Polehna expressed concern.

“I think we’re limiting ourselves way too much. Why just do this check-up for downtown. There are other businesses in the city that could benefit from this as well.” he said

City staff told the council they want to discuss the option further and come back to the council with a recommendation in two weeks.