There are a lot of positive signs for small business in downtown Sidney, says Cliff McNeil-Smith.
The president of the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (SBIAS), or Sidney BIA, says much of the feedback they are getting from owners is that business is improving — not to a point prior to 2008, but certainly better than last year.
“We are seeing changes to the positive here,” he said in an interview.
There are still significant concerns, he continued, such as current storefront vacancy rates, but the trend so far over the late spring and summer is a lot more positive.
Donna Petrie, the BIA’s executive director and Town of Sidney event co-ordinator, added a strong indicator that the local economy is on the mend is with hotel numbers.
“They are doing well,” she said, “based on revenue per available rooms.”
Both McNeil-Smith and Petrie note that their local economy prognosis is based on mostly anecdotal evidence from local businesses. McNeil-Smith said most private businesses don’t reveal with figures but their owners are keen to let the BIA know how they are doing, generally.
Sidney’s BIA, entering its second year of operation, was established to help market and promote downtown Sidney and all of the events and attractions that bring people to the area. Petrie calls that job delivering a complete experience to visitors and locals alike.
“The next phase of the BIA,” said McNeill-Smith, “once the brand identity is established, is aspire to be more, to continue to improve this place.”
Part of that is working with Sidney’s mayor’s task force on downtown revitalization. The task force sent more than 40 recommendations to the BIA following a period of surveys and meetings. McNeil-Smith said the BIA executive and board are reviewing them. Asked if they were part of the BIA’s mandate, he said their primary job is to market Sidney and what’s already here.
Anything more would be up to the BIA membership to decide.