By Sue Moore
A lot of dreaming took place at the strategic planning session for the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Seventeen residents met at the invitation of Kathy Hoyle, the acting director and expert in strategic planning, having already led the Village Council through the process and South County Community Services board.
A few of the common themes that arose from the two hours of discussion at the visioning session were the small town atmosphere, the historic theme in the community, the outdoor amenities, and the shopping, dining and entertainment offered. These will all be studied and elaborated upon while preparing a strategic plan to bring to the DDA board and village council for approval.
Hoyle’s position was partially funded by the Vicksburg Foundation with half of the six-month salary coming from funds held through its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) powers. Her charge from the Foundation and the DDA board, in creating the director’s post, was to bring citizens together to construct a foundation and structure for growth for the village.
The first step is the strategic planning session, focusing on strengths, struggles, opportunities and then creating a vision. She and Bill Adams, village president, went door to door downtown to meet the business owners, recruit them to take part in the process and get their input, even if they couldn’t attend all five planning sessions.
“A lot of very passionate people want to help and get involved,” Adams reported after his walk-about. Once the strategic plan is agreed upon, then a business plan to focus the DDA on a path of growth and activities to differentiate itself from other communities will be prepared. The third phase will be to implement the plans, launch new initiatives, and initiate marketing and communications activities.
Didik Soekarmoen, who sits on the DDA board and the Vicksburg Foundation, said he was really happy to see the changes and progress over the last few months. “The encouragement from the Foundation was just the kick we needed to get going,” Adams added.
The tools the DDA will have at its disposal include the tax capture funds from a 1995 tax base and the difference in the appreciated value of properties within the boundaries of the DDA. At present, this amounts to approximately $75,000 for 2015, once the Rise and Dine building is sold to John and Debbie Debault, the current lease holders.