Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012, October 17, 1980, Section B, Page 7, Image 18

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    Downtown future looks bright, official says
By RICHARD WAGONER
Of ttw Emerald
Local business officials are
excited and optimistic about the
future of Eugene's downtown
area.
Ray Mclver, Downtown
Development Association pre
sident, says Eugene’s down
town has enjoyed record foot
traffic all year despite the na
tional economic outlook.
And with Christmas season
just around the corner, the
economy only looks better.
“We're expecting a heck of a
Christmas.” The slow-down of
the economy over the past few
months has resulted in delayed
purchases, Mclver says. Buyers
are saving their money for
Christmas.
Christmas shopping should
change some of the outlook,
says Ruby Brenne, manager of
the Eugene chamber of com
merce. “It hasn’t been all that
great of a year, but we are not as
bad off as most places in
Oregon."
The building nose-dive has
hurt many Eugene merchants,
but the lumber industry should
pick up and money again will
flow freely to local businesses,
she says.
August unemployment
figures, the most recent availa
ble, indicate Lane County busi
ness may already be improving.
While the unemployment rate is
still higher than the state’s
average and well above national
figures, it dropped about 2 per
cent between June and August.
The jobless rate now stands at
about 9 percent for Lane Coun
ty
The downtown area has
weathered the recession
because of a loyal group of
downtown-area employees who
regularly shop there, Mclver
says. About 7,000 to 10,000
people work downtown, giving
the area a “head and shout
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"They (the employees) are
kind of a cake and the regional
and local shoppers are the icing
on the cake,” Mclver says.
Weather also affects shop
ping downtown, and — believe it
or not — Mclver says the cooler,
wintery weather is bringing out
consumers. People just don’t
want to spend time shopping
when the weather is nice, he
says But when the clouds come
and summer recreation doesn’t
compete with shopping, people
begin to do the buying they have
put off all summer.
Entertainment programs of
fered downtown probably
haven't brought that many more
consumers to the area, Mclver
says, but it has made shopping
more enjoyable. An experimen
tal street musicians program
started last summer has been
extended through December to
provide holiday-season shop
pers entertainment.
Mclver also says the new per
forming arts center and Hilton
Hotel near downtown will dou
ble the use of the downtown
area. The increased foot traffic
will mean stores will stay open
later in the evening and on
weekends.
The future of Eugene’s
downtown is exciting, Mclver
says. Plans to build housing
projects around the downtown
core will mean people could live
and work in a 25-square-block
area without owning an au
tomobile
“This program is getting back
to what cities are suppose to
be,” Mclver says. “The quality
of life in Eugene has been
greatly enhanced, and with con
tinued work we will have one of
the greatest downtowns in the
country.
“We can leave the rural areas
alone and prevent us from
becoming another Los
Angeles."
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