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Canton merchants concerned about downtown economy

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CANTON - A group of Main Street business owners have banded together to form the Canton Merchants’ Association because they believe there’s been a lack of focus on economic development in the downtown area.

Rainbow L. Crabtree, owner of Nature’s Storehouse, 21 Main St., told village board member Monday evening that in the coming weeks the group will be working to create a step-by-step action plan to make Canton a destination town.

“As the merchants of downtown Canton, we feel that there has been a lack of focus on economic development in the village,” Ms. Crabtree said. “In order to survive, and more importantly thrive, Main Street needs foot traffic.”

During the past few years the community has invested in a variety of beautificaiton and riverfront revitalization projects such as creaton of Heritage Park.

Also the Main Street reconstruction project that was completed in the fall resulted in improved sidewalks and intersections that make downtown more accommodating to bike and foot traffic.

“These projects were necessary and have contributed to quality of life in Canton, but there is a missing piece,” Ms. Crabree said. “In order to take full advantage of the riverfront parks and recreational areas in Canton as a means of boosting our economy, we need a solid, vibrant downtown with a variety of shops and eateries.”

The merchants would like the village and town to work with their association in developing a plan, she said.

Canton Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn said she has been working to bring more businesses to the community, partly by helping them access funds through the Canton revolving loan fund. Since the fund was created in 2007, she said seven businesses have received the funding to either open or expand.

“I’m currently workng with several businesses to bring them into Canton,” she said. “There are things in the wings.”

Mrs. McQuinn said she was aware the merchants’ association was being created, but at this point she hasn’t been asked to participate.

“I think it’s a great idea. I’d certainly be happy to work with them if they wanted me to,” she said.

Ms. Crabtree submitted a letter to trustees that identified five other members of the merchants’ association including Dr. Adam Jaffe, a Main Street optometrist; Erin Alguire of Sposa Bella dress shop; John Gray of Gray & Gray Certified Public Accountants, Sylvia Kingston of Josie’s Pizza and Marilyn Mintener, The Pear Tree.

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