Bluefield initiative makes downtown look more appealing - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Bluefield initiative makes downtown look more appealing


During an economic downturn, the first casualty are small, locally owned businesses. Not only does it hurt the local economy, but often leaves the city's landscape just as scarred. However, Bluefield, West Virginia, is now doing something about it.

Jim Spencer, Bluefield's Director of Economic Development, has begun an initiative to spruce up the storefronts along Bland and Federal streets. He says the reasons for the project are threefold. "We started using the windows to market Bluefield, tell the history of Bluefield, and actually do some cleanup. We're starting with our own properties. This is an initiative that came from our Cool and Connected grant program we were working on, which is focusing on downtown development."
On the windows of the old Telegraph newspaper building, there's a "Did you know?" series. Across the street, the city is allowing local businesses to hang their banner free of charge. On Bland Street, homages to historic Bluefield State sports teams, along with the city's ties to the rail industry, are paid. By getting rid of eye sores, Spencer says the initiative can help drive economic growth. "We want to make it to where we can cluster more businesses together; where they can feed off of each other. And we've got other (business owners) who are looking for space. And we'd like to have more jobs, not only in the whole city, but the downtown as well."
Buchanan County resident Patrick Traxler just happened to be visiting the City of Bluefield today. As a tourist, he is in favor of the idea of beautifying empty shops. "It's getting harder and harder for small businesses to make it. So, if you have an empty storefront to throw some pictures in there, some artwork, some whatever... if it's something to do with your area, I think it's a great idea!"

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