Danielle Housenick is best described as a servant leader, happiest when contributing to the community. An associate member of Junior Auxiliary of Russellville and current board member of the River Valley Adult Learning Alliance, Housenick has spent hours working with children and leaders to benefit the community. She was inspired to become a downtown leader after working at Dog Ear Books on West Main Street.
What role does Main Street Russellville play in downtown development and how does the organization utilize the existing downtown master plan in its strategies?
Main Street plays a vital role in downtown development as the key player in developing the master plan, which still serves as a basis for downtown development.
How does your organization define economic development and describe the working relationship between the Russellville Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau and city of Russellville?
Main Street Russellville has an excellent working relationship with our chamber, other local organizations and city entities. I serve on several different committees and our Board of Directors is comprised of members of civic organizations and local businesses.
One group that I am proud to be a part of is the Russellville Calendar Girls. The group contains a representative from various city departments and organizations with the common goal of improving Russellville. We work together to create a calendar that exhibits the beauty of our city and reminds our community of all the events and services we provide.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing downtown Russellville and what are some strategies being deployed to address them?
Downtown Russellville has many challenges, including parking, walkability, beautification and business recruitment and retention. I believe that many of these issues can be solved through a “domino effect” strategy. For example, by addressing the look and feel of our downtown, we draw more people to the area, which will lead to more shops.
The most difficult aspect of this work is getting people to understand there are no quick and easy solutions to these bigger challenges. It will take time and the efforts of our entire community to transform Russellville into the downtown we deserve.
How does Arkansas Tech University impact downtown development strategies? How are you partnering with them and who is leading the charge on implementing the El Paso Avenue Master Plan?
Arkansas Tech is an extremely valuable partner in our community, and one of my goals is to increase student engagement in our downtown. This fall, ATU will be offering an interdisciplinary course based on the Main Street Four Point Approach. The students and I will identify problems and work with local stakeholders to propose solutions. I am very excited to collaborate with ATU and discover student-driven ideas for our downtown.