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Finding a vision for downtown Clarksburg

Before any goal can be accomplished, a clear goal of what is being worked toward must be established.

Such is true when it comes to economic development in downtown Clarksburg.

Over the years, several organizations have been formed and numerous efforts have been undertaken -- all in the name of revitalizing the downtown area. But none seemed to have much of an impact; businesses continue to close their doors.

But we see a glimmer of promise with the gathering of community officials earlier this week. The meeting, held at the Gaston Caperton Center of Fairmont State College, was sponsored by the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from the Greater Clarksburg Associates. The event, attended by business and property owners, along with city and county government officials, also received input from West Virginia University.

So why the optimism over this particular event?

Because those meeting to discuss the future of the city seem to be starting at the beginning: Developing a strategic vision.

According to Dr. David Hughes, associate professor and extension specialist, WVU Extension Service, the main goal is to get people to simply realize that they need a vision.

"Their own efforts, in cooperation and collaboration with others, is important in achieving common goals," he said.

Among the components cited in creating a plan were asset mapping -- listing businesses, services, facilties and more that can be used in the future -- and identifying a commnity's strengths and weaknesses.

The WVU team plans to study the strengths, goals and visions submitted by the group. Members will then hold a public meeting next month to summarize and discuss its recommendations.

Will this recent effort return Clarksburg to the hub of activity it once was? Given the influx of malls and other retail chains, probably not.

But such common sense undertakings are most likely to result in Clarksburg meeting its potential in today's business climate.

Kevin S. Courtney

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