Working together is the vital ingredient to improving downtown Manawa.
This point was emphasized by Waupaca County UW-Extension Community Development Educator Mike Koles during the March 6 meeting focused on the revitalization of the city’s business sector.
“There’s no magic bullet here,” he said. “This is going to take a long time.”
Koles said a successful process requires good relationships and people with great attitudes and a vision.
He reported that nationwide most business revitalization ideas have failed. Many failed because they could not work together as a community, he noted.
“There hasn’t been consensus in Manawa on doing downtown development,” Koles said. “Failure to overcome this is going to be a huge hurdle to success. Are we ready to get past some of those past disagreements?”
This triggered encouraging responses from members of the Manawa Business Revitalization group.
“The winds of change are blowing in such a way that the time is right,” said Judy Trull.
“The chamber board has refocused and set new goals,” said John Smith. “There’s been much less resistance in the last six months. It’s more of a collaborative effort now.”
“We have to come together and focus,” said Scott Bickley, president of the Manawa Area Chamber of Commerce. “If we’re going down two different paths, it’s not going to work.”
“In order to have this town grow, everybody has to be invested,” Smith said.
He then asked for no comments on his next remarks.
“The (Manawa Common) Council is moving the farmer’s market back to Second Street,” Smith said. “We worked hard to determine the best and most centralized trafficked place for it. … These are the things that drive wedges between different groups in this town. This is why groups like ours can’t get things done – just because a few city employees are disgruntled and don’t want to do more work.”
Again, Koles stressed that the community needs to work together.
“In conflict situations, people often take positions,” he said. “Peel back the onion a little bit and get beyond the issues; dig deep to the core.”
“Interests are often compatible,” Koles said. “Right now you are stuck at positional-based arguments. Get to the heart of the interest.”