Ozark Struggles to Keep its Downtown Alive

By  | 

Last year, Ozark saw a five percent increase in sales tax revenue, but business leaders say the downtown area can't take much credit for that. The city still struggles to keep its downtown alive.

City officials tell News 4, Ozark as a whole is doing well. However looking around the downtown area, it seems only part of the city is thriving.

Mr. B's owners say they're closing due to a lack of business. They placed a sign in the window, thanking what customers they had and closed their doors for good Monday.

However Mr. B's isn't the only one that's facing hard times.

Donna Campbell said, "We're very slow. The sales have dropped from last year. We get business the first part of the month. Then from the 15th down, it's very very slow."

There's one retail store that's been making money. Barefield's has been in downtown Ozark for 11 years, but even Barefield's owners says business is slowing down.

"My business has been good. We had a good year last year. It's been a little spotty this spring and summer. We seemed to have lost some traffic. We've had to promote a little more than we ever had," said Mike Barefield.

So what can be done to turn-around downtown Ozark? Some people say elect new city leaders, others say bring in more businesses.

Assistant Economic Development Director Robin Beasley said,” I know some of the smaller businesses has trouble, but it's because they don't offer the same products that consumers want, or they don't offer the same service. In this day and age, it's all about service."

Ozark officials say the decline of downtown business does not reflect on the whole city. City tax revenue was up five percent in the most recent report. Officials say they are working to solve the downtown problem. Last spring, Ozark was awarded $25,000 downtown planning grant.

City officials say they plan on using that money to hire a firm to revitalize the downtown area. They say they aren't sure when the downtown area is expected to see revitalization.