State consultants to interview city leaders, downtown businesses during two-day visit
Alta's downtown area will be assessed by top state economic development officials next week, a move city leaders hope will be the first step toward improving the physical, social, economic and political aspects of the downtown area and the community as a whole.
Thom Guzman of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center will lead a team comprised of IDRC officials and private sector consultants in a two-day visit and assessment of Alta on Tuesday and Wednesday. Over the course of the visit, members of the consultant team will examine information about the community, will study any current plans for improving the town and will meet with community leaders and business owners to gain insight and input about Alta.
Guzman, who also works with the Main Street Iowa program, was asked to come to northwest Iowa by members of the Alta Economic Development Committee, a group which includes Dr. Paul Hill, Darell DePrez and Bruce Frederick. The goal of the tour of Alta is to help all community members discover the strengths and weaknesses of the downtown business district and the overall community. The team will then make recommendations on ways to enhance the business climate of Alta in order to make it more attractive for entrepreneurs to open shops and settle in town.
The Alta Economic Development Committee was able to raise $2,500 for the visit, which will include a community meeting on Wednesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. in the Alta Community Building. The meeting is open to all members of the public.
Guzman and the Consultant Team will share the information they have obtained during the visit in a roundtable discussion at the meeting, which will focus on what options community members can take to help enhance the town. Guzman will also be able to take questions from audience members pertaining to the downtown assessment.
During the first day of the visit on Tuesday, Guzman and other IDRC officials will begin touring the town, especially the downtown commercial area of the city. Consultant team members will meet with every entrepreneur along Main Street to talk with them about what can be done to improve the district and what positives it currently has.
Interviews will also be conducted with a host of different city and community officials, including Mayor Ed Buckendahl, City Clerk Tom Huseman, City Council members, representatives from groups such as the Alta Chamber of Commerce, Alta Kiwanis and Alta School District, and major property owners. Members of groups such as the Alta Veterans of Foreign Wars, Ladies Auxiliary, Quasquicentennial Celebration Committee, and local media representatives may also be interviewed in order to gain their input on the community.
The team will work together to develop strategies for economic development activity which the IDRC says needs to be addressed in order to increase the value of the downtown area, and subsequently, the value of the town as a whole. Those four areas include physical (the overall design and physical look of the district), social (how the commercial area is promoted), economic (business improvement of the area), and political (organization of the district and if different businesses and groups are able to effectively communicate with each other).
The report will be as comprehensive as possible, and will focus on recommendations that can be implemented within one or two years.
In addition to initial downtown visits such as the one that will take place in Alta, the IDRC also provides communities with links to historical preservation consultants, landscape architects, structural engineers and other experts that can assist towns with a variety of civic projects.