Economic development a priority for new OMI leaders
By Steven Hoffman
One of the primary goals of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI) is to bring economic development to town. Executive director Donna Hosler, the OMI staff, and the board of directors are hard at work on a vision of Oxford that includes bringing more visitors to the downtown area with art studios and galleries, boutique shops, restaurants, and entertainment during the evenings and weekends.
Oxford officials are excited about the opening earlier this month of the Sawmill Grill, a restaurant on Market Street. The Sawmill Grill is holding a soft opening as a menu is being developed, but is already creating a lot of buzz around town.
Another new business that will be opening soon is Wholly Grounds, which will sell coffee, kettle corn, and other snacks. Hosler said that the remodeling job has been beautiful for the storefront on Third Street that previously housed the Lighthouse Youth Center for many years.
Hosler said that a group of gentlemen are working on starting the Bog Turtle Brewery. The hope is that production of the beer will begin in October, with the products available at local restaurants like the Sawmill Grill.
The staff at OMI is exploring many different ways to promote Oxford as a good location for potential businesses. The Oxford Village Market and the monthly First Friday events serve as ways for vendors to test the market as they get to see how popular their items are on a limited basis, and to also get an understanding about the business community in Oxford, and the support that is available.
OMI officials are excited to showcase everything that Oxford has to offer. OMI has an Economic Development Committee that recently prepared and presented a marketing package presentation to a potential developer. The Economic Development Committee includes all sectors of the community, and they were well-represented at the presentation.
Another strength for Oxford is that the appearance of the downtown area has never been better as a result of extensive streetscape projects that transformed the look of Third Street. Currently, streetscape work is taking place on Market Street, and it is progressing ahead of schedule.
Oxford Borough officials are also collaborating with the county on an update of the revitalization plan. A final draft of the document will be presented at a public meeting on Sept. 22. OMI officials said that it is imperative that stakeholders, including business owners, property owners, nonprofit leaders, and community members, attend the meeting and share their ideas about the plan before borough officials formally adopt it.
With a beautiful downtown that is historic and charming, significant collaboration between civic organizations and business owners, and the support of elected officials, Oxford has a lot of potential for commercial growth.
Hosler has a recommendation for anyone thinking about opening a business.
“Invest in Oxford now,” she said, “because this is going to be the place to be.”