FAIRMONT – After only about two months into her tenure, Patricia Pagán already sees the future of Fairmont.
As the executive director of economic development and downtown revitalization organization Main Street Fairmont, it is her mission to bring in people and businesses to the friendly city. She just needs a plan.
“I’ve been meeting and greeting a lot of people and trying to get a good pulse on what’s going on and what needs to happen,” Pagán said Tuesday. “We are about community and economic development in the downtown area, and things like events and beautification all fit in to that.”
In May, Pagán was able to get together with board members, business owners and others who are interested in downtown development to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Fairmont. She said by having such input, leaders can then work together moving forward.
“That’s under our economic committee,” Pagán said. “This particular session, we saw a lot of collaboration going on, a lot of future meetings being planned and the kind of things we wanted to see come out of that. We addressed our challenges together.”
Main Street also has three other committees that handle different aspects of the mission of economic development and downtown revitalization. The economic committee meetings set their focus on business development, and cover topics concerning how to grow the area.
“We just want to take care of any problems we have downtown first and do things to encourage economic development,” said Brenda Giannis, president of the Main Street Fairmont board. “We just identified some problems, we identified some strengths, we identified concerns and we’ll get back together and our committee wants to prioritize what we’ve heard and get back to the business owners.”
Pagán said bringing together Fairmont’s businesses is important because the success of one business is beneficial to the others near it. Through her background as a business owner, Pagán said she wants to help foster a spirit of collaboration among business owners.
“First of all we want to break the ice and let people know who the other people are,” Pagán said. “Also I think there is an opportunity to take the mystery out of the other businesses. We don’t compete with each other, we complete each other and when you don’t know that other person or the other business owners, you might feel an edge of competition rather than collaboration.”
Giannis said the meeting yielded a positive outcome, because of the collaboration among participants. Getting ideas was one of the main goals of the round table discussion, and she came away from it with some solidly-formed plans.
“It was very productive,” Giannis said. “Everybody gave us great positive feedback and they even gave us some possible solutions like business incentives or provide evening events or try to have more of a downtown family-friendly activities.”
One of the ideas is the development of a downtown arts center.
“We are really backing the people who are trying to bring in Pierpont Square – we want to see that happen” Pagán said. “We are looking to bring a cultural arts center downtown. Not us specifically, but being the catalyst for seeing that happen.”
The ideas from the recent brainstorming session translated into solid plans for the leadership of Main Street.
“It should be an exciting time in the next few years,” Giannis said. “You name it, we’re going to try to do it eventually.”
Although Main Street cannot itself create businesses and help people come to Fairmont, Pagán said, she hopes it can be the catalyst that ignites the development that will drive change to happen. Pagán said that one single push could lead to a whole new Fairmont.
“I think tourism might actually organically grow from having a place people want to visit,” she said. “And first we’re going to take care of making sure that it’s a place that our residents, our students who are residents here... and then I think once we have that it’s going to attract.”