At the April meeting of the Mena Downtown Partners (MDP), Judy Thompson was appointed to serve the group as Liaison Officer. As such, she will work with and communicate to downtown businesses and the mayor’s office. Rick Chrisman, MDP president, noted that most of the businesses downtown have no extra time or staff to pursue the goals of MDP in actively promoting the downtown businesses and planning activities to highlight the downtown area. Because of such, he noted it has been difficult to not only get information out to all downtown businesses and to keep Mayor McKee informed, but also to plan and carry out special events routinely. Having a person hired to do nothing but working with downtown such as a Main Street Project Manager would be advantageous for the community, however, that is not a possibility at the present time because of the cost and other requirements of such a designation.
Chrisman told the group that Thompson has been a part of MDP since before it was formed last year. She was instrumental in the initial formation and organization of the group. She has assisted with various recommendations based on her background and has been involved with assorted PR efforts. She is presently working with Greg Phillips, Arkansas Main Street Director, in his coming to Mena to do a presentation about this program in hopes that in the future, it may become a reality.
Chrisman further advised that Thompson has volunteered to offer her assistance to represent the MDP and actively promote the downtown area. It was the unanimous consensus of those present that she be appointed to serve as Liaison Officer for the Mena Downtown Partners with downtown businesses and the mayor’s office.
Prior to moving to Mena, Thompson worked for 17 years in downtown development and historic preservation as Main Street Manager in Louisiana. Before that, she was vice-president of marketing for a small manufacturing company which sold internationally. She is a Certified Main Street Manager and certified in Professional Downtown Development by the National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She will quickly acknowledge that downtown development is a passion of hers and emphasizes how important a healthy, vital downtown area is to the health of the entire community. Thompson advises that statistics show that an active, attractive downtown is one of the first things both prospective industry representatives and visitors look for in a town.
She says that she will spend time visiting with downtown businesses and Mayor McKee letting them know more about MDP and its goals as well as also keeping them informed through a “What’s Happening Downtown” newsletter each month. Recommendations will be given to MDP periodically about possible special events downtown. Thompson will then assist with the actual planning and follow through on the selected activities. She will actively work in presenting issues pertinent to the well-being of the downtown area to the mayor’s office.
As MDP recently joined the American Independent Business Association, one of that association’s primary issues of ‘Shop Local’ will be promoted. Thompson will assist in the MDP’s effort to have area residents realize the importance and benefits of shopping local.
Thompson and her husband, T.J., moved to Mena in 2009 and have both been involved as volunteers in various local groups.