By Sue Moore
Kathy Hoyle, interim director of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA), presented the four parts of the group’s plan to the Vicksburg Village Council at its May meeting. The four parts are:
1. Downtown improvements
2. Business growth plan
3. Marketing plan
4. Infrastructure plan
The downtown improvement part of the plan has a goal to maintain current buildings, remedy blighted properties, and to enhance greenscapes and green community activities.
The business growth goal is to create a growth plan to eliminate vacancies, develop a unique business mix, design business support programs, and identify space for future development.
The marketing goal is to develop an external marketing/communications plan to promote downtown business collaboration, branding, and awareness of downtown Vicksburg as a place to work, live and play.
Finally, the long-term goal is to develop an infrastructure plan including improvements to accommodate mobility, connectivity and handicap accessibility.
Through a series of strategic planning sessions with interested citizens, the DDA set goals and assigned tasks.
Hoyle has been careful to be inclusive every step of the way, she said.
“It has to be a team that owns the plan and wants it to become reality, “she said. “In my experience, it will not happen if people don’t have input and then responsibility to carry the plan forward.”
The ideas that participants in March’s visioning session particularly liked were the small town atmosphere, the historic theme, the outdoor amenities, and the shopping, dining, entertainment and lodging that can be built in the future, she said.
At the end of June, the new fiscal year for the Village begins and Hoyle looks forward to begin implementation of the strategic plan with her biggest task being to find the money to implement the plans.
“There are many grants available at the state and local level that we are looking to apply for,” she said. “They include façade improvements, trail construction, tax incentives for businesses to locate downtown, and green space opportunities.”
Now, the DDA needs to focus on the specifics of the plan and the priorities, she told the Council.
Hoyle is enthusiastic about her work in Vicksburg.
“This is a place of forward thinking, where people want to make changes that can actually happen,” she said. “We are building a strong foundation for the DDA. The downtown is a place where people want to shop, walk, and spend time with their families. It’s a nice environment to work in.”