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One business leader’s perspective on downtown Lincoln

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Ruth Alves has a unique perspective of whether Lincoln’s downtown seems busier, in terms of visitors and businesses.

Currently the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce’s interim executive director, Alves has been associated with the chamber for more than 20 years, organized the 4th of July parade for about 15 years and has lived here for about 35 years.

“I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in my office with a window facing Beerman’s Plaza, and in the short 2 ½ months I’ve been here, I’ve definitely seen an increase in pedestrian traffic,” Alves said. “Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s from the events that take place where the attendees are coming back to explore what the downtown area has to offer.”

It also has to do with the kinds of shops and services that downtown Lincoln offers.

“Weekly, we have many out-of-town visitors and new residents who stop in at the chamber asking where they can find this or that business of which many of them they will find in the downtown area,” Alves said. “They are delighted to wander from the Art League of Lincoln to the Lincoln Area Archives Museum ending at the Lincoln Brand Feeds building and everything in between. I’ve observed those same individuals are here a good part of the day. Is the interest there for downtown Lincoln? Absolutely!”

Alves credits an association and a new city of Lincoln staff member with bringing more business to the downtown area.

“Historically, downtown-area businesses come and go but I see the Downtown Lincoln Association (DLA) doing a great job in laying the foundation to attract more business to the downtown area,” Alves said. “Through their efforts and the efforts of city of Lincoln’s newly-hired economic development manager, Shawn Tillman, it’s inevitable that more businesses will be attracted to the downtown area. The DLA has given input to the city on the Lincoln Boulevard Streetscape project and a potential bus route from Lincoln Hills to the downtown area in addition to hosting the monthly food truck event and coordinating the annual Halloween Trick or Treat at each business for the community’s children, just to name a few things they are doing.  And it doesn’t hurt to have the chamber in the downtown area, either. It’s our golden opportunity to promote and bring awareness to our residents and visitors to the many unique businesses Lincoln has to offer.”