Downtown business input on its future is disappointing

News that a downtown stakeholders’ poll attracted only three dozen respondents is disappointing.

Souris Basin Planning Council and Strengthen ND coordinated surveys of downtown merchants and community members on their thoughts about downtown. The community survey had nearly 1,000 respondents, who listed more food options and aesthetics among their key desires.

A thousand community respondents but only 36 business operators returned the survey?

The study responses were revealed at a quarterly meeting of the International Economic Development Council Interagency Stakeholders Group at its meeting this week.

Business owners and operators are essential to downtown; the impetus to improve conditions for them is a fundamental reason for the City of Minot and economic development groups is largely driven by their need and their collective will – both of which are perfectly reasonable. Modern downtowns are driven by commerce. Yes, in most places it is largely driven by entertainment, dining, nightlife and culture as opposed to retail commerce as it was half a century ago. But it is still business.

So business operators showing disinterest in a study like this one is disturbing.

How do you complain in the future if you don’t participate in planning today? Hey, complaining is a right we all have. Ethically, though, it’s a dubious proposition. In utterly nonspecific terms, one can either be part of a problem or part of a solution.

Business owners and operators must step up and let their voices be heard. Minot Daily News believes their perspectives are essential for planning the future stages of downtown development. Minot Daily News welcomes commentary on our editorial page for opinions and is open to groups with perspectives to share their news with us.

But (virtual) silence?

Who does that benefit?

The good thing that came out of the stakeholders’ meeting this week was that Mayor Shaun Sipma said he is setting up a new committee to look at Trinity Health properties and potential uses once Trinity relocates.

Good plan. While those properties certainly have value and Trinity is an excellent business member of the community, the issue is nuanced. It needs to be examined by a committee to see what, if any, role the city should play.

But the lack of response from business owners presented with a survey on downtown needs?

That’s disturbing.

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