OWOSSO — As the pandemic winds down, Owosso Main Street is asking local residents for help in shaping the future of the downtown area.

The Owosso Main Street Top Prospect Survey gives residents a voice in what types of retail stores, and eating and drinking establishments should be retained, expanded or recruited to downtown Owosso.

To take the five-minute survey, go to surveymonkey.com/r/YQLFVCN.

“We want to make sure residents have a voice. We want to know how we can build a downtown for them,” said Josh Adams, executive director of Downtown Development Authority/Owosso Main Street, a volunteer-led group aiming to foster an active and thriving downtown.

After the results are in, the recruitment committee from Owosso Main Street will use residents’ suggestions to “fine-tune our business retention, expansion and recruitment strategies,” the Owosso Main Street website states.

Specifically, the team will use the results to help local business owners considering expanding, or to help outside businesses move to or open a second location in downtown Owosso.

Possibly because of the pandemic, a survey last fall prompted only about 400 responses, when 500 or more provide a better sample for accurate results, Adams said. The goal with the new survey is 1,000 respondents — but the more, the better.

“When we did the survey last fall, we knew going in that we were in the middle of a pandemic. But we want to get a feel for what Owosso wanted and needed,” he said. “This year, the information is vital and that’s why we’ve reissued the survey.

“We want to compare the fall survey with the new one and make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”

Not only did the first survey lack sufficient responses, but the situation downtown has changed. For example, in the fall survey, the top responses for new retail stores was specialty foods grocery, followed by a butcher shop.

Number three was women’s clothing, which might have gotten a higher ranking but for the fact that J.C. Penney was still open last fall.

When it came to eateries, a brew pub won the top vote. Second place was a steakhouse. But that was before Jumbo’s Burger Bar burned down in April.

Those who want to fill out a survey but aren’t proficient online can request a paper copy at city hall, Adams said.

He said Owosso Main Street’s focus on surveying local residents rather than potential visitors to the community comes down to a maxim he read and agrees with: “A city built for locals will always attract new visitors, but a city built on new visitors may never attract locals.”

Owosso is a nationally accredited Main Street community. Owosso Main Street’s stated mission is to “foster an active and thriving downtown that is the heart of our community by promoting historic preservation and drawing both local residents and visitors to our city.”

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