The landscape has changed in downtown Nevada this past week - Julieann’s closed after almost 20 years here. It won’t be the same without Julie’s beautifully decorated windows for the seasons. If you drive west on Lincolnway, you see the For Sale signs in front of Dairy Queen and Jack’s BBQ restaurant. In a few months, our John Deere dealer will be moving off Sixth Street to Highway 30, leaving another empty store front.

If you have lived in Nevada for a long time, I am sure you remember a vibrant downtown – with shops offering goods that met all your needs. That is not the case anymore.

This isn’t something unique to Nevada – it is happening more and more in small communities. Nevada is at a big disadvantage because of our proximity to Ames. How can we as a community change that?

A few years ago, Nevada had an incubator for new businesses to get started. It was on the north end of the building that StuffEnufForUs is in. Is that something that needs to be looked into again?

Wouldn’t a bakery that was open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day and served coffee, homemade pastries and sandwiches be great in the Dairy Queen building? Or a butcher shop that offered smoked meats and cheeses in the BBQ building? The bigger question is, would Nevada residents support businesses like that, or is it easier to drive to Ames or Des Moines?

That is the one thing I hear the most from our local businesses — that the support from our friends and neighbors in Nevada just isn’t there. I heard that about the Midtown Market, too. I know it is a hard transition to make – to change your mindset from hopping in the car and leaving Nevada to get things you need to purchasing those same goods and services right here. Some of the businesses will offer to order an item if they don’t have what you need and you can often have it within a few days. I know sometimes that isn’t ideal, but if we don’t want to see more empty storefronts, like Julieann’s or Dairy Queen or Jack’s, we need to make an effort to support our local businesses.

How can we draw small businesses to Nevada? If you have some great ideas, I would love to talk to you. Nevada has so many things going for it: DuPont, housing growth and great people. Help me make our downtown inviting. We are all in this together!

Watch the Nevada Journal and listen to KASI in Ames and KFJB/KIX 101.1 in Marshalltown for upcoming events. You can always call the Chamber at 382-6538 or visit our website www.nevadaiowa.org if you need more information.