Mari Howe steps into a job as director of downtown development that is blessed with both challenges and opportunities.
As commercial districts have grown over time in places all around Garner, the downtown area has grown increasingly irrelevant. But it remains an important part of Garner as much for what it represents as it actually does for the shopping and dining opportunities it represents.
Most significantly, a vibrant downtown reflects a sense of community and a warmth that entices people to want to live in Garner.
Garner’s downtown is unique in the sense that it’s one-sided. The train tracks sit on one side of Main Street across from the rows of commercial buildings where shoppers can purchase goods and services.
While Garner leaders consider downtown to be much more than just Main Street, it is clearly the most well-defined landmark in the area. It is what people think of when they think downtown. That unique layout prompts challenges for people like Howe who want to draw businesses and visitors to the area.
But she is fortunate to have resources. Town leaders have committed to spending money in the downtown area to help attract people to downtown and that will make Howe’s task easier. She also has a general population who would like to see downtown become a vibrant hub of activity. And she has a volunteer board in the form of the Garner Revitaliziation Association that is committed to doing much of the heavy lifting.
Welcome to downtown Garner!