City needs to fund Natchez downtown organization

Published 12:03 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

At first glance, Natchez’s downtown is a jewel. It’s such an amazing collection of preserved history, all sitting in one place, high atop the Mississippi River.

That’s the downtown first-time tourists see when they come here.

When those visitors stay a little while longer they can begin to see some small cracks in the beautiful façade.

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First, downtown has far too many vacant buildings. That’s understandable because upkeep on a late 19th century building can be expensive.

Trying to renovate and then maintain a 125-plus-year-old building while running a business and making a profit can be tough.

Rehabilitating and rejuvenating Natchez’s downtown is critical to our future. Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell knows that and says he plans to discuss options with the Natchez aldermen soon to potentially hire a new city employee whose focus will be on marketing and promoting the Natchez downtown.

That’s wise and long overdue. The city pretty much killed the former Natchez Downtown Development Association in 2009 when the city pulled its $25,000 annual donation to the group.

The city should be able to fund this position without much trouble. We suggest they consider using all of the proceeds from the annual business licenses issued in the historic district to help fund the position.

That way, the businesses in the downtown area are paying for the promotion their businesses will receive if the new downtown development director succeeds in promoting the city’s heart.