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The Blade – Improving our Community: Three Critical Items for Success

A few weeks ago, some of the members of the Specialty Shops Group traveled to Libertyville, a northern Chicago suburb that has experienced huge growth in its business district over the last couple decades.

From the group’s perspective, getting more businesses downtown and on Route 24 is an important aspect of growth. From Libertyville’s perspective, there were three critical elements in this success:

1.) Community Volunteers
2.) Business owners
3.) Village support

In visiting with Pam Hume, Executive Director of MainStreet Libertyville, it is obvious that one of the primary foundations of its success is/was community support. The community rallied together to come up with a plan to give their downtown a facelift, improve sidewalks, organize events to help raise funds, and work together to enhance their downtown experience.

The commitment and passion of community members and volunteers was a hugely critical piece in the success of changing the downtown from a couple blocks of boarded-up windows to a bustling, thriving business district that attracts many people each year.

Secondly, the business owners in Libertyville work to promote each other and their downtown. The majority of the downtown businesses were open to ideas about improving their buildings and supporting events to cooperatively bring people to experience their MainStreet.

Finally, for many years, the village of Libertyville heavily supported this effort from a financial perspective. This financial support was critical in getting the effort off the ground. Residents, businesses, and tourists were encouraged with the village providing funding. After more than 20 years, the village has been able to reduce their financial support and the businesses and residential memberships continue to allow Libertyville to thrive.

Beginning with the Special Shops Group and the beautification efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, the businesses and residents of Fairbury have taken the first step toward working together to make our small town a great experience.

Bobbi McKeon says, “We are looking at other successful communities as well and plan to report on these success stories in the future!”

“We are now looking for some members of the community who may be interested in volunteering,” says Bobbi. “Some areas we could use assistance: historians, writers, artists, volunteer leaders, laborers, interior/exterior designers, builders, creative thinkers and more! Just stop by or give me a call at (815) 692-4500. Together, we can make a dream come true!”