The pleas of small business owners suffering from downtown construction may finally be heard if city officials go through with plans to give much-needed alternative financial aid to the mom-and-pop shops.
Construction has been an ever-tightening vise on downtown businesses, causing sales to steadily drop in the area—which is particularly harmful to those that are independently-owned. The downtown district is undergoing renovations as part of a 23-month plan expected to cost $10.2 million, according to a Feb. 27 University Star article.
In light of the projects, city officials are looking into offering loan options to help these businesses brave out a loss in profits some have already experienced from construction. Dan’s Discount Bookstore recently shut its doors partly because of downtown construction decreasing its sales and customers by 50 percent, according to a Jan. 29 University Star article. In addition, employers at Royal Cleaners, Paper Bear, Rhea’s Ice Cream and Emeralds have experienced a loss in profits and an increased frustration by customers inconvenienced by nearby construction.
The city should be praised for proposing to provide any sort of funding to help the downtown businesses. This aid could make a significant impact on struggling employers, even though the help will likely be temporary. Businesses would be held accountable to repay the loans provided by San Marcos officials, protecting the city from debt as a result. In the coming months, these shops may find it easier to sustain a profit to help pay back the loans as construction in the downtown area eases up.
The goal of the construction projects is to create a more attractive, approachable and accessible downtown area with pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and widened roads. However, city officials made the mistake of planning such a grand undertaking during the school year when many of the businesses largely rely on student profits to keep their companies afloat. If they were not careful, they could be building roads to vacated premises.
It seems if the downtown businesses do not receive some form of additional aid with the current rate of sales, the area will be devoid of the shops that make San Marcos unique. Until construction is completed, shoppers will have to face the war-zone of downtown construction with a minefield of possible places to receive parking tickets or a car full of dust from projects.
Students and residents, despite the hassle of construction, must take advantage of services like the Go Local Card to help promote a culture of frequenting the downtown businesses. City officials with the San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Program and Downtown Association are also working to develop a “shop downtown” campaign, according to the same Feb. 27 article. This potential campaign should further encourage residents and students to join in the effort to patronize local businesses. Customers must be updated on the most convenient routes to reach the businesses, and more employees should receive special permits to park in the downtown district area.
The city has recognized the suffering of many local businesses and has plans to help them stick around to enjoy the construction improvements of the downtown in the future. City officials deserve accolades for laying the foundation of some important initiatives to sustain the vibrant nature of downtown San Marcos.