A stimulating challenge

Published 8:34 am Saturday, February 26, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to share their ideas on ways to create some economic stimulation in our community.

We’re not necessarily looking for ideas that will replace all the jobs that have been lost in the last couple of years, or ideas that will solve all of our community’s financial challenges in one fell swoop, but ideas that will create a few jobs and keep some money here at home that is typically being spent elsewhere.

Our first response is from Mandy Hall of Courtland. The following is an excerpt from her letter:

“I’ve been thinking about your request for ideas about how to bring in business and creativity to the area. I tend to think about the downtown area of Franklin, which has so much potential. What could Franklin do to get me to come there and spend more money?

“Well, here is what I would like to spend my money on in the near future, if I had the money and if it was convenient: yoga lessons, music lessons for my daughter, maybe a new painting for the wall in my den. So here is my idea.

“Someone who is willing to invest in real estate and the arts should open something like an artists’ co-op in some of the buildings downtown, or one of the beautiful mansions for sale. Artists, such as painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, glass blowers and knitters, could “buy-in” to share space for giving lessons, displaying their goods, having benefits, having shows, or whatever other kind of event would be beneficial.

“Maybe the garden clubs could buy in so they could display their creations and put them up for sale. Then they could use some of the space for special events or meetings. Maybe some other civic groups could use a beautiful setting for meetings or special events.

“Perhaps another part of the co-op could be a buy-in for someone looking for a place to conduct music or singing lessons. And maybe there’s a yoga instructor out there who could buy-in and use a room for yoga classes.

“Services to bring people downtown on the weekends and the evenings are key to maximizing Franklin’s small business potential. So maybe open up the upstairs of some of the older buildings, renovate and try to bring in a yoga studio, or a place to conduct music lessons or art lessons. Just an idea, but it if did work, I would surely be a frequent visitor.”

I like Mandy’s idea, and I applaud her for sharing it. Not only would it provide a new and different reason for folks to spend some time and money in downtown Franklin, but would also provide an opportunity to expose children to various aspects of the arts.

It would also provide some stimulus to the real estate market downtown. We have some beautiful, old buildings on and around Main Street with tons of character and potential, and Mandy’s plan would generate some new activity in those old buildings. I can’t imagine any of the existing businesses would object to having a few new neighbors, either.

So there we have it, our first reader idea. Thanks for being the first to submit your idea, Ms. Hall. And I encourage the rest of you to share your ideas with us, too.

During World War II, the U.S. government and the Army Corps of Engineers oversaw the race to develop the atomic bomb. The most brilliant minds in science and engineering were called upon to engage in the largest science project in the history of mankind. They called it The Manhattan Project.

I think we should call our little endeavor The Franklin Project. What do you think?