Austin consultants talk downtown revitalization

Mike Barnes, president and CEO of Mike Barnes Group Economic Development Services from Austin, met with more than 20 community leaders and business owners from Mathis to devise a plan to revitalize downtown Mathis and spur economic growth.

MATHIS – The Mathis Economic Development Cooperation hosted a meeting last Friday with the Mike Barnes Group, an economic development consultant firm out of Austin who specialize in downtown revitalization.

Twenty-five local business owners and EDC members were in attendance for the talk which was meant as a way to introduce new thoughts and ideas on how to move Mathis forward and bring new businesses and jobs to the area and revitalize the downtown area.

“I felt like it was an opportunity for us to bring in their expertise and assist us in developing what our strategies are for downtown and what our needs are,” MEDC Executive Director Doug Dowler said.

The consultants toured Mathis and talked with local business owners and leaders as well as held one-on-one talks with concerned individuals at the meeting. The consulting group will then perform some analyses based on what they heard and form a game plan that would be the best fit for the city.

“They’re very experienced in doing this,” Dowler continued.

“They can provide us with a lot of insight and hopefully the outcome will be that we have a better downtown because of it.”

Mike Barnes, who heads the consulting firm, presented the attendees with multiple questions about the city and its citizens to try and form an overview of Mathis and where business owners want to go and what problems they’re facing right now.

Some strengths Barnes pointed out were the traffic in downtown is good as well as Interstate Highway 37 which runs right next to the city. Lake Corpus Christi was also on the list as a factor that could help bring jobs and boost the economy even more if utilized correctly.

Hearing the chatter during and after the meeting from those who attended, it was clear that the meeting was a success.

“Everything was positive,” Dowler said.

“Obviously there were some concerns about our downtown and our direction and things like that, and we expected that. That’s what we want.

“We need to hear what the business owners are saying. What are the problems, what are the challenges they’re facing so we can address those and revitalize downtown.”

Next, Dowler will be getting a draft of strategies from the consulting firm on what they believe the next plan of action should be. And once that’s done, the firm will be sending the EDC periodical “report cards” to let Dowler know how well the city is doing with the changes and what they need to work on more.

Overall, the meeting really seemed to showcase how involved and excited the community actually is about these new developments and plans for Mathis’ future.

“I think it just goes to show that the community is really focused on making Mathis great,” Dowler added.

“And that’s what its all about.”

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