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The Galax City Council recently viewed the results of a survey of the downtown area conducted by RKG Associates. Over the course of several months, they carefully studied the area to pinpoint its strengths and weaknesses, and determined what could be done to spike the interests of both tourists and residents.
Studies revealed that the area has a great foundation, with a rich history of art and music that draws in tourists from all over the world.
But with old traditions drawing in people from different areas with different backgrounds, ideas and interests, the diversity of the area’s population continues to expand. According to Russell Archambault, who worked with the study for RKG, Galax is a popular choice for second homes and retirement spots.
And with new residents come new, fresh ideas, and new demands from the public.
The study highlighted a specific group within the community: our youth.
In the interest of a growing business hub, keeping the younger generations attracted to this area could prove to be a key move in kicking the local economy into high gear.
The governor’s school has been an asset to this cause, by offering hands-on instruction in fields that could lead to future employment in this area. Another growing resource is Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, a place where the younger and older generations both feel a new freedom to express their creativity in almost any form... even moreso with the announcement of a new woodworking studio. Those artistic endeavors could be turned into the kind of unique creative businesses that attract shoppers and travelers.
With expansions like these come more job opportunities, giving future graduates a way to stay close to their families, while still being able to pay their bills.
But, when the time clock runs out and it’s time to relax, what do they do?
Back in the day, cruising gave locals a way to interact. Now, the only interaction cruising offers is with local law enforcement. And with most downtown businesses closing around 5 p.m., the nightlife in Galax has a lot to be desired.
During the study, people were asked what they would like to see in Galax. There were a lot of responses, but one kept coming up in the discussion: a downtown anchor. This would mean a core spot in Galax where people could meet, hang out, drink coffee and interact with others.
From a business owner’s standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. This could be a potentially large profit for whomever wanted to take on the task of opening and running such a place. As for the community, it’s a classic desire for human beings to have a mutual ground for socialization. Look at any TV show as an example: "Friends" had Central Perk, "Happy Days" had Arnold’s, "Cheers" had, well, Cheers. It's only natural that in real life, Galax residents would want a place like that to congregate.
And in a tight-knit community like Galax, everyone there probably would know your name.
Even the later hours were touched on by the community, with requests to spice up the “Galax nightlife” with more trendy spots to listen to music. This makes sense, too. Galax is an area known for the locals’ musical ability. With live music and possibly an open mic night for those who are interested in trying their hand at performing, even more musical ability might have the opportunity to surface.
The good news about all these ideas is that the infrastructure is in place to make these ideas a reality.
By continuing this effort, Galax is on a good path to continue its growth to fit a city that is also growing. And to that we’ll simply say, “Cheers!”