Empty downtown storefronts raise concerns with Macomb officials
By Jenny Dreasler, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -
There's growing frustration among some Macomb aldermen who are asking if the Chamber of Commerce is doing enough to attract businesses to the downtown area.
But other city officials say they're doing everything they can to fill downtown storefronts.
The sound of cash registers chiming is what keeps businesses in Macomb's downtown afloat. But some alderman say it's a sound they're not hearing enough of, as four downtown businesses sit empty.
"Any time you find vacant spaces on the square or any business district, you have a concern," Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said. "We talked about how did it happen, was there something we could have done differently?"
Inman says out of the city's estimated $34 million budget for next year, nearly $63,000 will go to the chamber of commerce for downtown development work.
Inman says $30,000 is in downtown TIF district money, $22,000 is from the city's hotel/motel tax and about $11,000 is used for direct advertising purposes.
In a recent city council meeting, some alderman questioned whether that money was being well spent, as downtown businesses fade.
"The economy is changing, people they're spending and buying habits are changing," Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce President Alex Geisler said. "So some of those stores there literally was nothing we could do about it."
Geisler says the chamber has been in touch with Inman about the city's concerns, and promises to keep working to sell Macomb to new businesses.
"We are making sure that we are communicating everything, we're an open book," Geisler said. "Just making sure that relationship, but the chamber and the city really stays a positive one."
Inman says there are already signs that progress is being made.
"We have been recently informed that there will be a storefront filled in the next 60 days that will employ four to five additional people in the downtown, so those are good things," Inman said.
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