At the suggestion of GoFish, I am re-posting this in a new thread. The original discussion can be found in "I Miss the Shoals": http://forums.timesdaily.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/5521043475/m/6681022636.
Sorry for not posting yesterday. Crazy day. The Manhattan investor has a great vision for downtown (crazy huh; he's been here only once and has more vision than our local leaders). He had heavily research the Shoals (he sees the area as a whole -- go figure) before coming down, and I am embarrassed to admit he knew more about the history of the Shoals than I do. To put it in his words, we have an absolute goldmine here with so many natural resources that are going to waste. He wants to put a business plan together and take it to an investment group in NY.
He envisions downtown Florence being a quaint, yet prosperous Southern tourist attraction where the locals hangout and where tourists will want to come and spend tons of money. Great little cafes, pubs, spas, bookstores (he was stunned that Books a Million was born here yet Anderson's closed on Court Street), ice cream shops (he loved Trowbridges), barber shops, etc.
He also recognizes that we need industry here to support the locals. He is a corporate laywer and deals with big businesses everyday. Granted, we don't have an interstate system coming through the Shoals; but we do have a federal waterway. We have the resources to support big business now, and the interstate can come later. God knows we have a great workforce here. It's sad when my 50-something uncle who put in 30 years at Delphi can't even find a decent job now. If my dad, who has been with the same plant since he was 19, lost his job, it would be virtually impossible for him to find anything where he could make more than $8/hour. It makes me nauseuous to think about it.
We talked about the overall sad attitude of the "older" generation. We are, after all, the buckle of the Bible belt. And please don't misunderstand me. I am a Christian and have a very strong faith in God. However, I also like to socialize, listen to great music, and have a good drink. I, unlike the older generation, believe that my faith is not compromised by an occasional Sapphire and tonic.
Anyway, he is definitely in the brainstorming phase, but I assured him that there are PLENTY of smart, progressive people here who would vocally and actively support positive growth and change. We are going to communicate regularly, and I pray that others will share his vision. He is so eager and optimistic about what this area could be. Why does it take someone from up north to take action? It doesn't. We can start the change right now.
Let's start brainstorming. What would you like to see, specifically, happen?