So. Boone Economic Council To Discuss Plan For Downtown Ashland

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ASHLAND - Located off of Highway 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City, Ashland is home to about 3,700 residents and many local businesses.

Brian Kirmse owns You Got Shot Photography, a home-based photography studio, who said his business revolves around the Ashland community.

""We like to stick with the local community, shoot Ashland...uh...sports, that's our big deal," Kirmse said.

He also said that despite not having a storefront downtown, he still sees a steady flow of business and clients coming to his home.

The town also has been undergoing some changes in the past few weeks, with the addition of a new regional library just off Broadway, and one group in Ashland wants to keep the changes coming.

The Southern Boone Economic Development Council is scheduled to meet with Planning and Zoning officials this month to discuss a proposed plan for a new downtown Ashland district. This plan would include adding more businesses to downtown, which some say could help this sleepy bedroom community create a downtown atmosphere that would attract more than just Ashland residents.

SBEDC President Kim Ponder said the council is focused on promoting local business as well as the city itself.

"We're looking for more business, more of a retail base, more of help our tax base. We want, really, a little more diversification. We like the idea of entreprenuership, we like the small based businesses, so we think that this plan may help create some more of those opportunities," Ponder said.

She also said city officials will have to look into creating more parking downtown to accomodate the addition of new businesses. The intent of a downtown parking plan is to evaluate the existing public parking and recommend a variety of solutions for the City to pursue.

The plan stems from a comprehensive plan adopted in 2009 in an effort to provide a tool for community leaders to utilize during their decision making process. The Comprehensive Plan includes a wide variety of strategies designed to provide for the on- going needs of the City and its residents. One of the strategies recommended within the Comprehensive Plan is the development of a "downtown revitalization plan".

 The Ashland Business District will be designed to provide a variety of uses which are intended to promote an environment which is more community-minded and pedestrian friendly than other districts in other cities. The goal of this district is to be a focal point for Ashland's shopping, dining, entertainment, and service destinations.