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The Geography of Nowhere

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Constance Buxton seeks to impact the future of downtown Sandpoint

“The geography of nowhere’ is what city managers refer to when they speak of towns across America that either lost their identify or never managed to acquire one before urban sprawl and the big superstores hit,” said Constance Buxton, the new Sandpoint Business Association Executive Director. Across America there are countless towns with no real method of differentiating themselves. “I have no plans to help make Sandpoint a theme town, but in order to preserve what is really special about Sandpoint, you must plan for the future. We know that a place like Sandpoint is going to continue to attract people whether we do anything or not – what they find when they get here is dependent upon what we decide to do together as a community.”

    A certified Main Street Manager, Buxton is no stranger to planning and team building. In order to acquire the accolade, you must be a Main Street Director for no less than three years, attend classes held by the National Historic Trust in Washington, D.C., and pass an exam. The program is a two-year program. Buxton considers herself a native of Minnesota, but in 1995 began managing Hampton, Iowa, which had a thriving Main Street plan in place. Later she moved to Rogers, Arkansas, which was larger and held great management potential. She learned of the position in Sandpoint and considered it, in part, because of family in the area. “All of my sons live in the West, and after September 11, being closer to them seemed like the right thing to do,” said Buxton. Her first day in the position was November 12 and there is no shortage of things to do.

    I asked her what her strategy would be in tackling the job’s responsibilities. Buxton stated she believed in working coalitions, in pulling players together to build consensus on mutual goals. “I don’t just mean people sitting around the table symbolically, I mean working together on tangible projects that everyone agrees in advance are beneficial.” Buxton knows from experience that people adjust more easily to change when they are fully informed. So early in the process, she expects to be talking to people and reviewing what businesses are looking for in a model downtown. She anticipates speaking to Service Clubs about the SBA.

    When I asked her about the Business Improvement District (BID) she observed that it is only a funding mechanism for business owners that want to have input in how their City develops their future. Other cities have used tax increment funding, BIDs, and grants as funding mechanisms to achieve their goals. Businesses can directly impact the way the funding is spent by serving on committees, running for a Board position or meeting with the Executive Director.

    Although it will take some time to settle into the position, Constance Buxton is looking forward to helping Sandpoint shape its destiny. “This is a beautiful place and I’m delighted to be here.” Considering how much is going on, we are delighted to have you!

        Carol Curtis is the co-owner of Sandpoint Computers, and has held a long-time interest in the economic development of downtown Sandpoint.

 

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Carol Curtis

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