Sin­gle­ton gets her foot­ing in first week

Main Street di­rec­tor ex­cited about po­si­tion so far

The Covington News - - LOCAL - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­

With a week un­der her belt in Cov­ing­ton, new Main Street Di­rec­tor Lau­ren Sin­gle­ton is ex­cited by what she has seen so far with the down­town mer­chants and com­mu­nity.

The Cov­ing­ton News sat down with her Fri­day to dis­cuss her first week and her plans for the fu­ture of Cov­ing­ton’s Main Street pro­gram.

The News: What have you seen in Cov­ing­ton so far that gets you ex­cited or you’re ready to get started on?

Sin­gle­ton: The mer­chants. I’ve al­ready been go­ing around talk­ing to a lot of the mer­chants, meet­ing them. The stores are just amaz­ing, the restau­rants are just amaz­ing. There’s such a va­ri­ety. I’ve never seen such an in­ter­est­ing va­ri­ety of mer­chants in down­town be­fore.

I ac­tu­ally grew up in Coweta County and so I would al­ways go to down­town New­nan and visit their stores and go to their events so I kind of grew up in the down­town world, I guess you could say. Af­ter work­ing in McDonough, I mean, I think that the mix of mer­chants and busi­nesses around down­town re­ally are top-notch.

The mer­chants them­selves, the busi­ness own­ers, they’re very com­mit­ted to their busi­nesses. They’re very in­vested in their busi­nesses. That’s very com­mend­able be­cause, you know, in a lot of ci­ties you have a lot of ab­sent busi­ness own­ers and it is very dif­fi­cult to get them on board with dif­fer­ent things go­ing on down­town, but to ac­tu­ally go into a store and be able to talk to the busi­ness owner, it’s very re­fresh­ing.

That was my pri­or­ity when I got here, I just want to get to know the mer­chants not only as busi­ness own­ers, but as peo­ple be­cause we’re all in this to­gether.

The News: What are you plans go­ing for­ward in your first 30 days on the job?

Sin­gle­ton: The first 30 days is com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I want to amp up not only com­mu­ni­ca­tion with mer­chants, but com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the pub­lic.

I have a huge so­cial me­dia back­ground, so this week I’ve re­ally started to work on that to amp up so­cial me­dia be­cause I want the Main Street so­cial me­dia to not only be events, but I want it to show­case the mer­chants as well. Ev­ery time I walk around the square, I want the mer­chants to say ‘Hey, I’ve got this sale go­ing on, can you put it on your Face­book page?’ You know, I want them to see the Main Street so­cial me­dia as an­other av­enue of ad­ver­tise­ment.

An­other way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing is email-blast­ing, just re­ally use that as a tool to send out to the pub­lic and to the mer­chants so ev­ery­body knows what’s go­ing on, what’s com­ing up.Com­mu­ni­ca­tion I feel is re­ally, re­ally key.

An­other thing I want to do in the first 30 days is ed­u­ca­tion. That does go along with com­mu­ni­ca­tion a bit. But, ed­u­ca­tion about what’s in down­town, ed­u­ca­tion about the his­tory of down­town. I’m sure peo­ple have lived here for years and think they know ev­ery­thing, but I’m go­ing to make it a goal to find some­thing peo­ple didn’t know about. So, I want to go deep into the his­tory of Cov­ing­ton.

The News: With the big 4th of July event just around the cor­ner, what are you do­ing to get ready and get down­town ready for that event?

Sin­gle­ton: We have a great in­tern here who is a pub­lic re­la­tions in­tern from Val­dosta State Univer­sity. She’s a Cov­ing­ton na­tive, but she goes to Val­dosta State. She started a cou­ple weeks be­fore me, so she’s been help­ing me get the word out be­cause we’ve been do­ing Google searches on­line and we would type in ‘Stars and Stripes Fest’ or ‘4th of July Cov­ing­ton’ and other than Face­book and our web­site, we re­ally don’t see any­thing.

That’s some­thing I’ve put on our in­tern, I re­ally want to see 30,000 peo­ple here in a month and we re­ally need to get that go­ing be­cause we have a month. I’ve kind of made it my mis­sion to get peo­ple here.

As far as the rest of the plan­ning for the 4th of July, Deb­bie Harper, who served as the in­terim Main Street Di­rec­tor, has been do­ing a great job. She’s pretty much got it cov­ered, I re­ally don’t want to mess up her flow.

The News: What are some of the big chal­lenges you think you’re go­ing to face mov­ing for­ward in Cov­ing­ton?

Sin­gle­ton: I haven’t thought about that be­cause I’ve been so fo­cused on get­ting ac­cli­mated and meet the mer­chants.

From talk­ing to the mer­chants, I have heard about the chal­lenges of park­ing, but I see park­ing as good prob­lem, that means you have peo­ple com­ing to the square.

Right now, I just don’t see a lot of chal­lenges, but then again it is still my first week. Ask me again in six months and I’ll let you know.

The News: What brought you to Cov­ing­ton?

Sin­gle­ton: I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half in Tallahassee, Florida. I was work­ing in the city man­ager’s of­fice for the City of Tallahassee and it was time to come home. I had gone through a hur­ri­cane, a cou­ple trop­i­cal storms, it was just time to come home and I missed be­ing part of Main Street. I missed be­ing able to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity.

Yes, be­ing in Tallahassee, I was part of city gov­ern­ment and I was still do­ing things, but in the po­si­tion I was in, I wasn’t re­ally able to ac­com­plish things and re­ally con­trib­ute any­thing to the City of Tallahassee. So, when Cov­ing­ton posted the po­si­tion I ap­plied.

I knew a lit­tle about Cov­ing­ton be­fore­hand be­cause when I was in McDonough we would come to Cov­ing­ton for train­ings or we would go through on the way to train­ings. I was fa­mil­iar with Cov­ing­ton and the lay­out.

Of course, with ‘The Vam­pire Diaries,’ if you’re from Ge­or­gia you know Cov­ing­ton and ‘The Vam­pire Diaries’ are syn­ony­mous.

The News: Is there any­thing else you’d like to add about your time here or what you have go­ing on mov­ing for­ward?

Sin­gle­ton: Mov­ing for­ward, I want to bring as much ac­tiv­ity to down­town as pos­si­ble. Ac­tiv­ity doesn’t nor­mally mean events. Just, peo­ple and foot traf­fic. I try to keep the mer­chants best in­ter­ests in heart. What’s go­ing to bring peo­ple in the doors? What’s go­ing to get peo­ple to buy things? I al­ways try to keep the mer­chants in mind be­cause af­ter all if the mer­chants weren’t here, we wouldn’t have down­town so they’re my num­ber one con­cern.

Jackie Gutknecht | The Cov­ing­ton News

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