PINEVILLE -- John Newby, McDonald County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, is working to build a relationship with cities and build a plan to revitalize their downtowns.
Newby, who started his job in April, has a background in downtown revitalization, something he is prioritizing in his new role.
"My passion and strength really are helping downtowns revitalize," Newby said. "We realized, you know; let's use that and approach the communities and let the chamber take that and help each community establish a plan for their downtown."
Newby said the chamber will charge a $2,500 fee each year, with a large part of its goal being to present each town with a step-by-step plan to help the community achieve its downtown-specific goals. Newby said the chamber will assist towns along the way and will work to help secure grants for McDonald County communities.
"Face it, the downtowns in our county need help," Newby said. "It's one of those things where if your downtown is not thriving, your community is not thriving. Inversely, if your downtown is doing well, it'll spread, and your community will do better as well."
Newby said each town in the county will have different goals for its downtown areas, noting that steps for revitalization will vary.
"Every community has different challenges and each one has a different demographic and a different group of players in the game, so to speak," Newby said. "You really have to adapt a program to them. We are here to help them establish that plan."
Newby said that, although most chambers don't do what he's hoping to do in the county, McDonald County cities don't have a department specifically focused on Main Street upkeep and revitalization, shoes Newby said he's hoping to fill.
"We're trying to develop a relationship with the cities," Newby said. "And to do that, we need to be more diligent and willing to help them."