Improving the local economy is always on the minds of residents and business leaders.

Although local business districts face many challenges, improvements can always be made.

UrbanMain is teaming up with the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHBA) to identify projects that could enhance Western Avenue from 99th to 111th streets.

According to its website, UrbanMain “offers a new set of community-driven economic-development services to help under-resourced older and historic neighborhood commercial districts restore economic vitality and promote quality of life.”

Launched in 2015 by the National Main Street Center, UrbanMain is based in Chicago and was established in 1980 as a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization.

UrbanMain recently hosted a community meeting to present results from a survey about the local economy and to provide a framework for possible improvements; the results were encouraging.

UrbanMain Director Dionne Baux said the survey received over 900 responses—her best ever.

Participants selected “bar” as the top word that comes to mind when thinking of Western Avenue, and “busy,” “restaurant,” “old” and “parks” were also popular choices.

Residents want family-friendly entertainment, Baux said, and more dining options. So, where does the community go from here?

Baux will host a “Main Street 101” training session at a date to be announced, but attendees at the meeting were enthusiastic about new ideas.

Baux’ presentation was thorough, and the key is identifying good ideas and making them a reality.

Many of the roughly 25 attendees are business owners or leaders of local business and civic associations. They have a stake in the community and welcome others to join the effort.

Due to its heavy traffic, Western Avenue might not be as suitable as other areas for a bike-friendly corridor business district. However, it can offer new dining options, and residents need to support new businesses in those ventures.

Baux said she worked to enhance a business corridor in Washington, D.C., that faced similar challenges, and she is confident Western Avenue can experience similar success.

Attendees at the meeting want to form committees to take their ideas to the next level. UrbanMain’s efforts have potential, and the community has many capable people who can help.

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