DuBOIS — Though the upcoming Brighten the Night will kick off the holiday season in DuBois on Friday, Julie Stewart said it also represents a new beginning for the Downtown DuBois Inc. nonprofit organization since she took over as executive director in August.
“Right now, we’re getting started with the winter holiday events, but we’re going to start working on events every season — spring, summer, fall and winter,” said Stewart. “We have already, just in the last couple of months, doubled the size of our promotions committee, we’ve got a whole bunch of different volunteer groups that are helping with different things, and just a lot of really exciting stuff on the horizon. A lot of new partnerships, and things like that.”
Everything the Downtown DuBois Inc. organization is doing now to promote the holiday is just a part of its primary focus, however, said Stewart.
Since it was started in 2007, the Downtown DuBois group has worked to enhance and provide direct services to improve commerce and economic opportunities, promote cultural and community assets, encourage rehabilitation and beautification of properties, and improve the overall quality of life throughout Downtown DuBois, said Stewart.
“We actually just did a big business survey that we’re getting results back on,” said Stewart. “That’s been really well received, we received a lot of great feedback. Not a lot that I can really talk about yet, because I want to see the big picture.”
“But some things that are common themes are people are concerned about parking,” said Stewart. “One thing we know that we need to do a better job on is educating people on where the parking is. We actually do have a lot of available parking, but it’s not always well known. That’s a big challenge, and something that we’ll continue to work on with the city. The city’s been great to work with. I mean, we’re taking a much more active role, and going to meetings, and participating as much as we can with all of that.”
In addition to the city, Stewart said Downtown DuBois is also seeking input from other legislative bodies and entities such as state Rep. Matt Gabler, state Sen. Joe Scarnati and Congressman Glenn Thompson.
“They’re all familiar with what we’re doing now, because we’re letting them know. We’re really trying to open the communication lines, because this area is critical right now,” she said.
Stewart said one item she mentioned at a recent city council meeting is emphasizing that DuBois is a walkable community.
“The city has already been doing all the infrastructure part of it, but we’re not really marketing it,” said Stewart.
She said she would like to become officially accredited through one of the state’s walkable community programs. Walkable communities are correlated with better physical health, attract more businesses, reduce the amount of pollutants, connect people to the places they love and all people benefit regardless of wealth or physical ability.