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Moving forward in downtown Thomson

First it was new sidewalks. Then they took down the unsightly wires, planted shrubbery and trees, put in bright streetlights and installed a pretty railing. And when the By-Pass is complete, the big trucks will be gone.

Downtown Thomson is coming along.

Ever since I moved here in 2005, Chamber and tourism officials have been looking for the magic formula to bring people downtown and keep them coming back. Festivals bring them, but there's nothing that brings them back until the next festival. Businesses open shops, but without the customers, they can't stay in business. And it's a no-brainer that customers won't come if there's no businesses. The cycle could get discouraging, if not depressing.

The same problem exists in every city, no matter its size. And it's nice that our local officials have been working on the problem. But they have no control over all the factors involved. So, I was excited this past weekend to see ingredients fall in the pot that have the potential of turning into something sweet.

The grand opening of the McDuffie Museum proved to be a big hit and brought many people. And I watched many of the visitors on Sunday afternoon walk over to the museum from Ivery's Restaurant. It only makes sense. Whether they are local folk or driving in from another county, having a good meal, and then a place to browse and "walk it off" makes a pleasant afternoon - the kind you plan with family and friends. The kind that brings visitors back.

The museum is not the only drawing card. It is just the icing on the cake that has been needed. Now, there are three restaurants (Ivery's, Huddle House and Cornerstone Deli) to bring hungry folks to downtown Thomson. And when they're finished eating, there's the museum and a couple of antique shops within walking distance to make their visit last longer than the drive here. And while they're walking, they'll start exploring and find the Depot, the DAR monument and the Blind Willie McTell Historical Marker. Hopefully, they'll become hooked. And want to come back, visit other businesses a little farther out and tell their friends. And when others see how well the businesses are doing, they'll want to open their own business. It's a cycle that could become lively and exciting, feed off of itself and grow larger and larger.

And I'll get to watch it all from the window beside my desk. And I hope the visitors stop and visit us here at The Mirror. You won't find any antiques or artifacts sitting around. And unless you're a Doritos and Diet Coke fan, we aren't serving any fine cuisine. But, we definitely will be here for a long, long time.

Web posted on Thursday, January 15, 2009

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