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Sturgis meeting eyes downtown revitalization

March 31, 2011

By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
sdnreporter@yahoo.com

Sturgis will be holding a meeting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the county fire station to focus on downtown revitalization.
The meeting will feature presentations from Joy Foy, director of asset development for the Mississippi Development Authority and Joe Fratesi, project director with the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University.
“My program is looking at improving quality of life issues in communities and to do that we start by identifying what assets are available to work with,” Foy said. “It is a very positive approach in that it gets the locals to focus on all the good things in their community and look at assets that are underutilized. After the assets are identified, we offer suggestions or best practices we have seen in other communities to get the most out of existing assets.”
Fratesi will give a presentation on his program called “First Impression” that shows locals what the town looks like to an outsider. They bring in people from outside the community to give feedback on local schools, shops, housing, infrastructure, etc.
“’First Impressions’ is just what the name implies, a program that captures the thoughts and observations of visitors on their first visit to a community,” Fratesi said. “These observations, both positive and negative, are then used to raise issues that the community can evaluate and prioritize for in-depth study or immediate action.”
Sturgis has not officially chosen to participate in the program, but Fratesi’s presentation will help them learn a bit more. Over 70 communities throughout Mississippi have already participated in the program.
“Both of our programs are designed to energize communities and move them into action,” Foy said. “Sturgis is already working and just asking for help to get more done. We love to get a call from this type of community- one that already believe in themselves.”
Members of the community are encouraged to attend. Questions and comments will be welcome. Light refreshments will be provided after the meeting.
“If we could learn from other people’s successes and mistakes on how to improve the town of Sturgis,” Mayor Walt Turner said. “We want to use their expertise with the citizens involved to get the energy flowing again.”

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