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It wasn’t long ago, many professionals involved in municipal government and economic development felt that the downtown, business centers that were considered the heart of a community, were an endangered species. With the advent of the shopping mall, the big-box store and later the rise of online shopping, the “mom and pops” were on their way out. Downtown Columbus is a concept that favorably holds the hearts of many in our city, particularly for those who have lived here for a long time and are nostalgic for places and events gone by.

It also wasn’t long ago that our downtown took a couple of gut-punches upon the departure of some long-standing business and favored newer ones, injecting an uncomfortable bleak feeling about its future. In my opinion, it would be a fantasy to declare that all of the issues and imperfections of Columbus’ downtown are now cured, but it would be an equal fantasy to say that the downward slide hasn’t reversed course to a brighter future. Walking down to the four corners these days you see new businesses, and solid existing businesses strengthening their holds with new investment.

A renewed effort and focus to make downtown a welcoming place is why the positive vibes are flowing. The Chamber of Commerce Farmer’s Market brought back to a central location is exciting. The decorative banners and hanging flowering baskets has made a proud aesthetic mark to natives and visitors. It would be appropriate to mention and thank all the people who have provided support to make these changes, as I personally appreciate all of their efforts. To do that would likely fill a whole page of the Columbus Journal… but the efforts of that many has made all the difference. The city has seen ebbs and flows to these kinds of changes in the past, but it feels different this time simply because it seems more people are working together to show our city’s pride.

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I hope you were able to find a spot on the July 4th Parade route this week and were entertained as always. If your parade spot was near the downtown, I hope you were able to take a look around to see the activity and positive changes – I know the cows on some of our banners were looking back at you! Sometimes I swear those cows are singing along with Petula Clark, “Things will be great when you’re downtown…”

If you have any questions on this or any other issue before city government, please contact me down at city Hall at 623-5900 or via email at pvandersanden@columbuswi.us.

Patrick Vander Sanden serves as Columbus City Administrator.

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