New hope for downtown
Pictured is downtown Twin Falls’ Main Avenue North and a photograph taken in the 1940s, courtesy of the Twin Falls Public Library. (ASHLEY SMITH/Times-News)

A week-long regional effort aimed at sprucing up communities throughout southern Idaho is the latest initiative announced by the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization.

“Operation Facelift — New Look. New Attitude. New Business” was unveiled Tuesday by SIEDO at its board meeting at the College of Southern Idaho.

“This is really going to be a ‘ground-up’ initiative. We’re seeing this as a community-wide project for residents to help spruce up their downtown areas,” said Larry Hall, director of Southern Idaho Rural Development, (SIRD), which is partnering with SIEDO on the project.

The organizations hope to identify about six downtown businesses in each participating community that need the most help.

The effort has been months in the making. “Our organizations have been working on this facelift idea for our downtowns since we hosted a seven-city tour last December,”Hall said.

Hall said the organizations will identify community volunteers and sponsors for the week-long event, scheduled for June 14-18.

Local Operation Facelift teams will likely involve civic club and city representatives, citizens and even high school students and other youth organizations.

“We want to get everyone, from business owners to FFA groups and Eagle Scouts, involved in this,” Hall said.

Targeted businesses will get a facelift. Just how much work is completed on each business will depend on how much money is raised through donations of money, materials, supplies and labor.

Nancy Bergmann, program manager with Idaho National Laboratory and SIEDO board member, quickly threw support behind the program with a $5,000 corporate pledge.

In addition to spreading civic pride, the initiative, once complete, will help marketing efforts associated with economic development projects tied to both SIEDOand SIRD.

SIEDOExecutive Director Jan Rogers said Glenns Ferry has independently taken strides at cleaning up and is “neat as a pin.”

The city recently completed a downtown revitalization project, funded in part by an Idaho Community Development Block Grant, and has new street curbing, gutters, seating and even a clock tower.

“When we take companies on site visits to Glenns Ferry they notice the pride,” Rogers said. “We’re hoping that communities involved in Operation Facelift set some pride, set some excitement and get people motivated.”

Blair Koch may be reached at bkoch@magicvalley.com or 735-3295.

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