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Progress 2013: Downtown identifies goals for the future

The Downtown Hays Development Corp. board of directors and staff spent their time during the last year working and finalizing a new strategic plan we are proud to use to move into the future.

During the same time, we worked with the city of Hays as they completed a comprehensive plan guided by a diverse steering committee. More than 30 public meetings provided multiple opportunities for citizen engagement and community group discussions. The ordinance to adopt the plan was approved by city officials Aug. 23.

During development stages, DHDC discovered downtown Hays is one of the key districts identified and decided to align its strategic plan with these efforts. The concept addressed for downtown is the Core to Campus Development Corridor. This aligns with the goal as defined in our strategic plan to improve the physical appearance of downtown Hays and the Chestnut Street District.

In fall 2012, with the support of the city of Hays and generous community donors, DHDC launched this development with a cornerstone project, building a multi-use pavilion, which addresses the need for public space. The proposed "Pavilion Square," as identified in the comprehensive plan, includes a multi-use facility to support the local economy and visitors. The time spent planning for this project was led by a DHDC sub-committee, with partnerships including city of Hays staff and community donors.

As we move into 2013, we continue to work with these participants to develop a complete plan that will not only be a great asset to downtown Hays, but also a wonderful contribution to the Hays community.

Another goal as defined in our strategic plan is to grow the number and variety of businesses in downtown Hays. Since 2013 is already off to a busy start, we have continued with our successful partnerships with other community organizations. Led by the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, Ellis County is a recipient of eCommunity status. The goal of the eCommunity partnership is to increase entrepreneurial activity and develop a self-sustaining environment favorable to long-term entrepreneurial growth. I am proud to serve on the Ellis County eCommunity Leadership Team. For more information on this program, contact the ECC, Hays Area Chamber of Commerce or DHDC, all housed in the Hays Welcome Center, 27th and Vine.

In addition to the eCommunity, the redevelopment of a retail recruitment committee has begun. As a committee member, we will work to discover the needs of the Hays community, and its neighbors, to ensure our long-term growth. With the newly renovated buildings in downtown Hays, the potential for new business is at its high. We will work to help potential business owners become educated about running and operating their own business, and help fill the needs of the Hays community.

Other goals as defined in our strategic plan, which also will be worked on in the upcoming year, are to develop and implement a branding/marketing plan to advertise and promote patronage of downtown Hays and the Chestnut Street District; enhance the quality of housing in the downtown Hays area; and develop new events and continue to support the growth of successful events in downtown Hays. A few projects that are under way is the development of a new downtown Hays website, planning of the annual Blues, BBQ and Bargain event, and research of other aesthetic improvements for our historic district.

For more information about the DHDC and its efforts, or to learn about sub-committees you can be a part of, contact me at (785) 621-4171 or by emailing tracik@downtownhays.com.

Traci Konrade is executive director of Downtown Hays Development Corp.