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Street Talk

Downtown Decline Hits Entire Community

By Mickey Howley


The Fram Filter Company had an advertising campaign years ago (yes… 1972) about the issue of automobile maintenance versus repair. The ad suggested you should change your engine oil and filter—using quality Fram products naturally—versus the folly of not maintaining the car and then paying for expensive engine repairs.  The tag line—spoken by an old wise sage mechanic type—was “Pay me now or pay me later” showing him working on some car with a blown motor. And it was clear that regular maintenance was far cheaper and less painful than massive repair. I think dentists have the same message.
And it is also that maintain versus repair situation with most buildings. People understand that message especially well with the roof over their heads structure; take care of the house or it won’t take care of you. Commercial buildings are like every other man-made object…keep them maintained or watch them fall into disrepair and need major and expensive repairs.
But buildings aren’t like cars in one respect; they’re fixed in a location in a community. The tag line for buildings should be “Pay for it now or everybody pays later.” Because if commercial buildings become run down—and collectively they get that way usually because the local economy slips—the decline affects everyone. Live in city with a sad rundown downtown and guess what?…your house is not worth as much.
Plus the town infrastructure suffers because there is less sales and property tax to maintain city services. Things fall apart. Let’s not forget there is less money for schools, too. Even the kids loose. Not a pretty picture and not the place you want to be.
Right now on the Valley’s Main Street there is quite a bit of fixin’ action going on. Some of it is a huge repair from years of neglect and some of it is major maintenance and upgrades to functional buildings. Whatever the reason the motive is faith in the future local economy and that the current significant investments will pay off. Benefiting the people who have businesses in the buildings and benefiting the town as a whole. That the solid faith for such long-term investment is back is a very good sign.
So with last week’s successful Open House on Main Street…and thanks for all who went and the 21 businesses that participated… it’s another big step in the Buy Local movement.     
Keep supporting those businesses that keep buildings maintained and are working to fix them up. That’s really important. It makes us collectively look better and that helps the existing businesses and those to come. And if you’re like me you’d rather pay a little now than lose a lot later.

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