Downtown program needs money, board members, volunteers

Although Sandy Main Street hasn’t had an executive director since last fall, the economic growth program continues to work on its goals.

Sandy’s program is part of a national effort, and has the goals of building downtown business growth and prosperity, promoting local products and local vendors and encouraging specific types of missing businesses to relocate in Sandy and fill empty storefronts.

In the absence of a director, the nonprofit group’s board of directors continues to conduct Main Street activities with volunteer help.

Lois ColemanAt the same time, the board is looking for a way to finance the salary of a director or manager and some of the program costs.

Lois Coleman, vice president of the board, said the board is looking at the possibility of hiring a manager from AmeriCorps, but the salary requires a $20,000 match — money for which the board hasn’t found a source.

“A board shouldn’t be the face of an organization,” she said. “We give the direction, and the manager (and committees) carries it out.”

An effort last summer to create an EID (economic improvement district) to pay a director’s salary and other program costs failed because state law states the district cannot be formed if owners of more than 33 percent of the square footage of the affected commercial land vote no. An EID would have assessed each landowner a fee based on the square footage and whether the land was adjacent to a boulevard or a street.

After a board meeting last week, Coleman said “Main Street is still functioning, and we’re creating a 15-year vision for downtown to set the direction for Sandy Main Street.”

That process will involve meeting with property owners and business owners so they can help create the future vision and priorities.

There are only two Main Street committees currently working: promotions and economic development. With more volunteers, Coleman said, these committees and others can become more active to achieve the board’s priorities.

The Sandy Main Street office is now open weekday afternoons, Coleman said. Each week, Board President George Hoyt and Coleman will staff the office for two days, and Rita Boyd will be in the office one day. The office is inside the Firwood Design Group offices at 39065 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 104.

Coleman admits it is difficult to gain volunteers from the business community because many of the most active people are busy operating their businesses.

“It’s very difficult to be out and about and talking with people when our times are committed in other ways,” she said.

Besides building a database of all the businesses Main Street serves (in the downtown core), Coleman said they want to recruit more members for the board as well as committee members who will conduct Main Street activities.

She believes Main Street should maintain a connection with the city’s economic development director as well as with the economic development committee of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We need to work on partnerships,” she said. “(After the director’s resignation and EID setback), I feel like we’re almost starting over from ground level in our effort to get people on board and get the Main Street presence out there again.”

But most of all, Coleman wants more board members so the board has more ideas.

“We need the downtown property owners’ input on the direction they would like to see us go,” Coleman said. “We also would like to find some donors to give us some seed money.”

Current expenses include office rent, which is covered by the city, as well as some printing costs for First Fridays, also covered by the city.

“But we can’t count on the city to keep doing that,” Coleman said. “We need to look for grants.”

Besides Hoyt and Coleman, other members of the board are Alan Fleischman, Julie Snell (treasurer), and Ernie Brache. The nine-member board, therefore, has four openings.

The Main Street office can be reached weekday afternoons by calling 503-489-2173. Coleman can be reached at 503-668-8377.

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