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City to spend $4K to evaluate Main Street
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The city agreed to fund bringing in a consultant to conduct an evaluation on Main Street Covington at their meeting on Monday.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston asked the council to give him permission to spend $4,000 for a consultant to come in and evaluate the downtown area. Council member Chris Smith made a motion to spend $4,500 and the council unanimously agreed.

Johnston said the consultant would primarily help bring new ideas and a new vision in helping to promote the downtown area.

Johnston said Main Street Covington is funded by the city, county and motel/hotel tax. He said he attends board meetings as the city representative and for the last three months, he has been pushing for the board to hire a consultant for an evaluation.

Johnston told council that he wanted the city to take a art of helping to find ways in making downtown Covington more attractive.

"It's a great time for us to get aggressive in supporting our current Main Street program and to really get some additional ideas and information," he said.

On the phone Friday, Johnston said he wanted the consultant to do an extensive evaluation that would look at the function of Main Street and possibly re-establish the agenda.

"When you really look at the vision and mission of Main Street, part of it is organizing concerts on the square and all that, but the other part of it is actually helping out and partnering with the existing businesses on the square and helping them be successful," he said. "I want the business people who are trying to make a living on the square right now to try to be involved."

Johnston said the other reason for hiring a consultant would be to look at what could be done to properly try to promote the city and the downtown merchants.

He gave the example of placing billboards up near highways that invited people to Covington and Newton County as a way that would p bring more awareness to the area.

"The main goal of the whole thing is to verify that what we've got going on downtown is great or figure out what we can do to make it better," Johnston said.

Johnston said he believed the city and the county will be looking at more economic development in the coming years and now was the time to highlight what Covington and the county had to offer.

"I do think the next five years are a critical time," Johnston said. "We've got some great opportunities coming our way. I've had people emailing me through the city's website who have been hired by Baxter or are being hired by Baxter and they want to know about the city and they want to know about Newton County. [It] all goes back into trying to improve our income per house ratio out here."

Johnston said Main Street Covington will have a meeting next week and he will discuss the next steps in hiring a consultant to do an evaluation.

"My intention here is not about any individual, it's about the function of Main Street," Johnston said. "I think we have a phenomenal opportunity to have a great downtown."