PARKERSBURG - A new entity to promote downtown Parkersburg has announced its new director. Carrie Nesselrode has been named executive director of Downtown PKB.
Spawned from the Downtown Taskforce, Downtown PKB and Nesselrode will take over current events, such as the farmers' market and Taste of Parkersburg, and work to create and enhance new opportunities for the downtown.
Downtown PKB is funded through a five-year financial commitment from the Ross Foundation. Its mission is to enhance, revitalize and aesthetically improve the downtown area, to promote community activities and tourism, to support commercial establishment and to encourage new business opportunities.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Downtown PKB executive director Carrie Nesselrode, left, and Jill Parsons, right, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, talk about the new organization’s logo.
"While we were developing a plan to deal with the three major areas of concern, the Ross Foundation offered financial support for the purpose of creating additional downtown event programs for the newly renovated Point Park. After several discussions, we thought of creating an organization that would allow us to refocus our efforts to the Main Street program," said Cecil Childress, chairman of the Downtown Development Taskforce.
Childress said the creation of Downtown PKB was done with the blessing of the taskforce. Nesselrode said the Downtown Taskforce will fold into Downtown PKB. And Downtown PKB will work with the other promotional organizations such as the convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce and the county development office.
Jill Parsons, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, has served on the Downtown Taskforce. She said the Downtown PKB is an opportunity to promote the area.
"Downtown focus is good for business, the economy and the community in general," she said.
Nesselrode's responsibilities will entail coordinating efforts to address major concerns facing downtown. In addition to downtown revitalization efforts, Nesselrode will help coordinate downtown events and programs such as the Point Park Music Series, Taste of Parkersburg event and the farmers' market.
As director she'll take the reins of work that was previously put together by volunteers, individuals with other full-time jobs.
"I have a great foundation to start with," she said.
In 2010, Parkersburg was awarded participation in the West Virginia ON TRAC (Organization, Training, Revitalization and Capacity) Program. Similar to the Main Street Program, ON TRAC assists communities by focusing on four key areas: organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring.
To become a Main Street entity Nesselrode said they needed a designated director. Her first step as director will be to establish Downtown PKB as a nonprofit organization. That status will open doors for grant funding opportunities.
Nesselrode will meet with downtown business owners to plan goals and objectives, determine what funding will be needed and proceed.
"There is all kinds of money available for a variety of projects," she said.
Downtown PKB will be the organization applying to the National Historic Trust's Main Street Program, a national movement that has spanned 30 years and is in more than 2,000 communities. It has spurred reinvestment in traditional commercial districts, encouraged volunteers and changed the way communities think about the revitalization for downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
Downtown PKB will share office space between the Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce of Mid-Ohio Valley offices.
"It will be a busy place, but I'm really looking forward to it," she said.
Before being hired as the director of Downtown PKB, Nesselrode worked for Simonton Windows as its director of marketing, promotions and a public relations.
Mayor Bob Newell said Downtown PKB's job will be to make things like the farmers' market sustainable.
"It has gotten to the point - with the farmer's market, the Point Park concert series - it needs a full-time manager," Newell said. "It's good news that we have so many things going that we need a manager and it's even better news that it's not the government."
Newell said the city will continue to provide a variety of in-kind services to the events and promotions.
With the aid of the city's VISTA volunteer, Nesselrode will create new programming to keep people downtown after business hours and bring residents and visitors back downtown, especially on weekends. They will also encourage downtown living opportunities.
Nesselrode said the downtown is comprised of many small businesses that lack marketing and public relations arenas.
"How do we communicate about what programs and activities are going on downtown? How is the appearance of downtown? And how do we address downtown parking issues?"
Nesselrode said Downtown PKB is crafting its website and will begin work on a newsletter, as well as social and traditional media outlets.
Newell said interns and the VISTA worker will assist the manager and make sure the downtown becomes a center of the region again.
"The downtown will be as big a hub as anywhere in the region."