Interview with Sue Parker, Escanaba DDA chair
ESCANABA – The Escanaba Downtown Development Authority is still looking for a new director. DDA Chair Sue Parker says they haven’t found anyone qualified to fill the position.
“We need somebody who has a little bit of previous history, at least, dealing with municipalities and how the system works for writing grants and things like that,” Parker said.
The inability to hire a director is frustrating Parker who has now headed the DDA for a year.
“At the moment I kind of feel like we are spinning our wheels. I want to get moving forward. I think we have a lot of potential. We have a lot of things that can certainly do to make our downtown an even better to be, to shop, to dine, to enjoy,” she said.
The DDA has stalled on its effort to find a facility for a year-round Farmer’s Market. Parker said the current outdoor facility at 1st Avenue North and North 9th Street is getting crowded.
“We are getting more and more vendors. Unfortunately, the place we are at we just can’t expand. That’s why we are looking at other possibilities,” she said.
The DDA had made an offer to purchase the vacant Upper Peninsula Power Company building on Stephenson Avenue but that offer was rejected. Parker said they need a new director to help move the process forward.
The DDA also needs to fill three positions on the authority board. One of the positions needs to include a person who lives in the DDA district. The other two can be people who work or own a business within the district.
Other issues Parker says the DDA needs to address are its streetscape plans, the facade program and weatherization efforts.
The DDA board heard from Kevin Cook of Michigan Green about weatherizing downtown businesses. The DDA is looking for 15 businesses willing to participate in free weatherization audits.
“They will walk through your store and they will give you ideas on how you can optimize your weatherization,” said Parker.
Interested businesses can contact the DDA office in Escanaba.