One Wiregrass city is hoping a new look will bring new business. The city of Ozark received a planning grant to revitalize their downtown area. Money will be used to bring more businesses to the downtown area.
Downtown Ozark is struggling to bring in and keep businesses.
The city as a whole seems to be doing well. With sales tax revenues up five percent and the county unemployment rate around three percent. However the downtown area is a different story.
Within in the past month, two businesses have left the downtown area and no new ones have come in.
Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting said, "It certainly has nothing to do with what it looks like. I think it's like with anything, you got to provide the service and the product. All of it's got to be at the right price.”
Mayor Bunting says it's not his job to find the mom and pop type stores. Instead, it's his job to make the downtown area look inviting for businesses to come.
The city recently received $25,000 planning grant to help the downtown area. City officials say they plan on using that money to hire a company to decide what will help lure business owners. Even if that means getting rid of some local favorite awnings and turning the area into a historic district.
“It could very easily be and historical district, if the people downtown would like for that to happen,” said Mayor Bunting.
The city plans on using the grant money as soon as city officials agree on a bid. City officials say even though they have a grant, it doesn't insure the plans will be carried out quickly. Mayor Bunting says the city does not have the money to make dramatic changes.