LPI Board Discusses Healthy Places Initiative with PUMA Reps

Lamar-Logo-2012-2inchWhat market is currently being served by the retailers along Main Street in Lamar?  What business or store could become an anchor to Main Street that could induce local residents or visitors to frequent?  Those were topics of discussion during the monthly LPI meeting at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce offices this past Wednesday, March 26.  Representatives from PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates, met with Lamar Partnership board members to discuss some of those options in light of the Healthy Places Initiative study underway in the Lamar community.  PUMA provides technical assistance for Healthy Places, developing and executing plans to create healthier communities.  Studies have shown that healthier communities have a direct correlation to prosperous communities. 

A three year study is underway which is helping bring national attention to Lamar, according to Anna Jones, PUMA Vice President, as one of three Colorado communities that has received a one million dollar grant to help develop plans for a healthier lifestyle.  Among those three, Lamar is the only rural representative in the project. 

Who shops in downtown Lamar?  What is the demographic background of buyers, their incomes, age, their shopping habits, what stores and services are provided along Main Street?  One strong suggestion from earlier surveys lists a restaurant as a consumer magnet.  People can dine, take in a movie, shop at a store open into the evening and this would apply for residents and visitors alike.  Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, took a broader view of Lamar’s economic situation.  “We’ve done pretty well in establishing a niche market for shoppers at a Wal-Mart level and below, but we haven’t done as much to develop a niche that goes above Wal-Mart,” he explained.  Sutherland added, “What environment should the city create to have a shopping experience that can support development in downtown Lamar?  What retailer will take the chance to go first?” 

Erin Laetz from PUMA asked about the current shopping needs of the community.  “Where do you shop for men’s and women’s clothing,” inquiring about the diversity of shopping alternatives in the community.  Lamar Community College was also highlighted as a potential revenue source each year from the student body.  “How many students know about the retail alternatives that are open to them when they’re in town,” Laetz asked.  Comments from LPI board members indicated that past studies showed a low awareness level of local retail outlets. 

LPI Director, Shawna Hodge, asked the PUMA representatives what would be the next step at this point, “What is it that you expect from us in the project?”  Jones replied that some quick and visible wins on smaller projects is the first step.  “Residents have to see that some changes and progress is being made,” Jones said, adding that there should be quarterly updates keying on specific needs from specific groups and then plan to implement them.  “We can’t tell you your priorities,” Jones explained, saying that PUMA will be on hand to offer their technical support.   

Earlier in the week, the City of Lamar purchased two lots along East Beech Street which will be used as a downtown parking lot and events area for a variety of activities.  Hodge stated that CDOT’s plans for Main Street improvements over the next several years will need to be considered on the impact to downtown development from the city.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: Birth AnnouncementChamber/Local BusinesscommunityEconomyEmploymentFeaturedHealthHot TopicsLamarTourismTransportation


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.