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Group meets to discuss downtown Gering's future
July 28, 2011 Jerry Purvis   

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According to Gering Mayor Ed Mayo, a “very diverse group of strong-minded, out-of-the-box thinking people are meeting to consider how to grow the downtown area.

Mayo said the purpose of the group is not to be another think tank, but to be an action oriented group. Too many think tank projects result in a thick stack of paper that’s put in a fancy binder then relegated to the back of a filing cabinet.

“Gering has done a lot with tourism and we’re polishing up the gems we have,” Mayo said. ‘We have the attractions here; we just need the businesses that are willing to stay open.”

Ideas discussed during the group’s first meeting last week included farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and more extensive use of Five Rocks Amphitheater and other entertainment venues that would help draw people to Gering.

“We have to educate our own people about what’s going on in the community,” Mayo said. “That way, when someone is in town and asks what there is to do or see, our people can point them in the right direction. That includes a business’ staff members knowing about local attractions.”

Mayo said today’s society may have lost some of the connection from previous years. He said as a teenager, he kept track of what movies were showing and what was going on in neighboring towns. That knowledge can be passed along to visitors.

“There’s going to be something for somebody to like to do,” he said. “It helps us out as a community if tourists stay another day.”

Mayo added that an important part of revitalizing the downtown area is for businesses to remain open beyond “working hours,” at least for one night a week. The practice was common in small towns across Nebraska until the 1970s.

“If businesses have the cavalier attitude they don’t need to be open, the customer and the tourist will go elsewhere,” he said.

Mayo added that our product is the entire area and that what some would call “flyover country” should be “stopover country.”

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