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Rebuilding Main Street – The Plan

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This is the third article in a series. Read the first article here and the 2nd article here.

So where do we go from here? We know we’re going to have about $60,000 worth of expenses per year. We know there’s relatively little foot traffic on main street. We know we have to increase sales without sacrificing our gross margin or increasing our overhead. Small hurdles, but hurdles nonetheless.

Shop local is a good idea, but it doesn’t really solve the numbers game. It’s an awareness program, similar to a neighborhood watch-type initiative. Banks becoming more lenient with their loans would be nice, but once again adding a loan payment just adds to the expenses. If you’re not growing, the added loan payment is a band-aid that eventually becomes a burden. Grants are almost impossible to come by anymore. We’ve been waiting 2 years for the demolition of the buildings on main street. So we need something new, innovative, and feasible.

So here’s our idea. Stay with us for a moment. We know it’s outside the box, but we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again. Like Albert Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

What if someone would create an online site that had local news, a calendar of events, a classified ad section, a business directory, etc, and it would become the go-to online destination for residents in the area? Eventually, residents could watch live events from around the area right from their computer: school board meetings, GHS sports game, city council meetings, etc. Local doctors would be able to talk to patients right from their home, and patients would be able to request refills from the local pharmacies right on the site. Imagine if that site became every resident’s homepage on their computer, and they checked it 3-4 times per week.

Now imagine if a sister-site was created that allowed every brick and mortar store in Gillespie and Benld to sell their merchandise right on the web 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, all from the same site. Local shops wouldn’t have to depend on foot traffic, and more importantly wouldn’t have to depend on the local trading area. With the web, they can sell anything anywhere in the world. The online store wouldn’t add to their overhead, and would actually improve their gross margins. Better yet, at-home businesses that haven’t made the transition to a brick and mortar store could add an online store that will eventually become a brick and mortar store on main street.

Local shoppers wouldn’t have the excuse that they didn’t have time to shop between the usual 9am-5 pm hours. Now they could shop anytime they wanted, even from their pajamas. Local stores could carry a wider selection of merchandise without increasing its overhead. Items could be drop shipped directly from the wholesaler. How nice would it be to have a local tv repairman selling tv’s or a computer geek selling computers. With the amount of wholesalers and distributors available in the US, anything can be sold in Gillespie without the customary expenses of a brick and mortar store. And best of all, if an item is sold online by a Gillespie merchant to an area resident, the city gets that sales tax revenue.

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Now let’s take it one step further. What if one of the empty buildings downtown would be donated to this program so at-home businesses could use the building as a storefront until they outgrow it. An at-home businesses that had growing sales on the web could then move into or even share with another at-home business the donated storefront on main street, and grow their brick and mortar store until they’re ready to go out on their own. It’d be a business incubator of sorts.

This isn’t so much a program, as it is a system. Create a business idea -> find a wholesaler/distributor -> add your site to the online e-commerce site -> start selling your merchandise -> grow your store -> move into the brick and mortar incubator on main street -> eventually grow your store enough that you can afford your own storefront on main street.  If we can add 1-2 businesses per year, while maintaining our current businesses, main street Gillespie would look completely different in 5 years.

Are we guaranteeing this is going to work? Absolutely not. 50/50 at best. However, it’s completely different than anything else we’ve tried. Plus, from a financial standpoint, it’s feasible. It’d also be a perfect partner to a shop local program.

Seriously, how nice would it be to order anything you wanted online from a Gillespie merchant? Pipe dream? Maybe.

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Time for Republicans to rally around President Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican Party nomination for President at the Republican National Convention next week.

America is a country divided and by virtue of accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president, half the country will embrace him while the other half will want nothing to do with him.

The divide between Democrats and Republicans is nothing new, but what is new is the use of lawfare to target political rivals. Here in Illinois, the moment President Trump and his delegates filed their paperwork to be on the ballot in the Land of Lincoln, a group of far-left radicals immediately filed an objection to the filing. The objection was an outlandish legal charge that President Trump was the instigator of the events on January 6th, 2021, and was therefore not eligible to be on the ballot.

In the end these bogus accusations went nowhere. Even legal experts who were no fans of the 45th President thought the objection was ridiculous. But this is the state of affairs in politics today. Instead of putting ideas on the ballot and campaigning on the merits of those ideas, the far-left radicals are weaponizing our courts and targeting people solely on the basis of political ideology.

Donald Trump is without a doubt the most famous person in the world and like all famous people, he has his fans as well as his detractors. He is not “literally Hitler” as the extremists on the left claim. He is not the enemy of Democracy. He is a candidate for office like any other candidate. His ideas of a strong border, a strong military, low taxes, reduced business regulations, trade deals that protect American interests and a desire to protect America’s interests abroad have been a part of the public discourse for a long time. The notion that these ideas are an “assault on our Democracy” is just nonsense.

President Trump was leading in the majority of the battleground states long before the country saw Joe Biden’s decline in real time during the recent Presidential debate. And the reason he was leading in the polls is because Americans in growing numbers have rejected Joe Biden’s failed policies. The fact that Joe Biden has demonstrated his complete inability to serve has only served to give President Trump even more momentum than he already had ahead of the Republican National Convention.

It is time for our party to rally around our nominee. We cannot afford to continue Biden’s open border policies that are crippling our cities. We need a President who is strong on crime and who will work with state and local governments to keep our communities safe. We need a leader who will put an end to the inflation hurting so many families. I hear all of the time from constituents who are overwhelmed by the price of food and other household necessities. The current Administration won’t fix a problem and in fact they won’t even acknowledge the problem exists.

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I call on everyone who may have voted for someone other than Donald Trump to watch the Convention and rally around our nominee. So-called “Republicans” like Adam Kinzinger who have done the unthinkable and endorsed Joe Biden are not only embarrassing themselves, but they are contributing to our nation’s decline.

We cannot afford another four years of the Green New Scam, the open border policies and the weaponization of the justice department to target political opponents. Joe Biden ran to heal our country and all he has done is fracture us even more. It is time to put America first and Donald Trump will do just that. It is time for Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and moderate Democrats to rally around President Trump and Make America Great Again!

State Representative Adam Niemerg

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Domestic violence is prevalent in Macoupin County

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Dear Editor,

Domestic Violence within Macoupin County is prevalent. It is destructive and can be both physical and psychological. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. While every relationship is different – domestic violence generally involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in a variety of ways. The following statistics are all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

We can see domestic violence inside the home: through the use and control of household pets. In one study, 85% of survivors who experienced co-occurring animal abuse reported that the behavior of their pets had changed. An even higher percentage of survivors who reported partners had harmed or killed their pet, have also reported their partner for domestic violence. We can also see an increase usage of firearms within the intimate partner violence home. A survey of contacts by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found (of those with access to firearms):  

  • 10% said their abusers had fired a gun during an argument.  
  • 67% believed their abusers were capable of killing them. 

We can see domestic violence inside our schools: as partner violence is not exclusive to the home. There are many instances of violence between dating partners that begin in high school. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Within those relationships, 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  

We can see domestic violence inside our community: Macoupin County provides a specific set of needs for those victims and survivors of domestic violence. There are several complex concerns within a violent relationship that come to light once action has been taken. Safe Families sees a few main re-occurring concerns within the county:  

  • Survivors have fewer financial resources, making them more financially dependent on an abusive partner.  
  • The lack of rental units or other affordable housing options makes it more difficult for survivors to leave spouses or co-habiting abusers.  

The Macoupin County Safe Families program provides support for residents as they journey the emotional endeavors to leave behind domestic violence. As a contributor to that experience, we will be hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on October 7th on the Carlinville Square. An event shirt will be included with a ticket sale. The online tickets will close 09/29 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold at 9am day-of event at the Safe Families booth. More information about the Awareness Walk can be found on our website at mcphd@mcphd.net. We urge Macoupin County residents to join us and rally against domestic violence together.  

Juliet Wooldridge and Lilly Booth

Domestic Violence Advocate Coordinators
Community Health Worker
Macoupin County Safe Families

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: National Health Center Week is week of August 6

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Dear Editor,

Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s primary health care system. We design innovative, integrated primary care based on what services communities need most — ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for over 30 million people. In addition to creating jobs and saving lives, collectively we save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs by preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Community Health Centers are not ordinary medical clinics; we are also problem-solvers who reach beyond the exam room to care for the whole person by providing access to necessities like food, transportation, and housing. Community Health Centers care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. Nationwide during hurricanes, floods, and fires, and locally during the pandemic, Community Health Centers are first on the scene and are vital to keeping America healthy.

The 2023 theme of National Health Center Week is ‘The Roadmap to a Stronger America.’ Community Health Centers serve as the beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, we offer support and love. In moments of triumph, we offer hope and a vision for the future. This year’s National Health Center Week theme takes us on a virtual road trip across America, highlighting the achievements and amazing work being done at Community Health Centers in every state and territory. Celebrate the uniqueness of our community and get to know others as we journey across the U.S. together!

Each day of National Health Center Week is dedicated to a particular focus area. We will be working with community partners to recognize and celebrate each of the following focus groups in our community.

As part of National Health Center Week 2023, we invite you to support Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc. to celebrate our mission and accomplishments.

Christy Blank
CEO/Public Health Administrator
Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc.
Macoupin County Public Health Department

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