- Cullman, Alabama

April 2, 2014

EDITORIAL: A chance to lead growth

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — In an era that concluded about a generation ago, residents of any average town or city in America had pretty much one destination for shopping.

The downtowns were the lifeblood of American communities, relying on strong customer service and a steady flow of local customers. The dawning of malls and strip malls, coinciding with a more mobile society, left many downtown areas a nearly forgotten part of the American landscape. But some survived or found a way to become relevant again.

After years of expansion and the desire for new things, Americans are looking back to the places their parents and grandparents enjoyed. Downtown shopping districts are again, in some locations, becoming destinations. The rich history, architecture and new investments into historic buildings are bringing local residents back to the wide sidewalks of their ancestors, and alongside those shoppers are a growing population of visitors from other communities.

Cullman is one of the most recognizable communities in the region for having a strong downtown business environment. New investments have arrived in recent years and there is a growing push for more entertainment, nightlife and variety of shops in the area.

The large chain stores will continue to be a large part of the economy and serve the needs of consumers. But inside the older quarters of the downtown the specialty shops and restaurants have an opportunity to be a major part of the attraction that brings visitors to the area.

A growing nightlife of high-quality entertainment and dining experiences will be the key to building on the economic potential of regular visitors to the community. Cultural experiences are in high demand across the map. Travelers are looking for many of the qualities that make Cullman an appealing community. The arrival of more entertainment and establishments open in the evening hours will signal the arrival of a new generation of economic growth and maturity.