If you have driven through Havana recently and noticed dumpsters, contractor trucks and trailers or thought to yourself, "There's a lot going on here, Havana is doing things" then you would be right! It is all happening because of the passion and hard work of our Mayor, City Council, staff and officials and a partnership with local businesses and entrepreneurs! Things are changing and we sit squarely in the midst of a full on reinvention.
Creative minds have been at work for the last four years planning, budgeting and implementing a "re-launch" for our little river town, and although these things take time, Havana has been on the fast track to improvement. We are no different from many small communities across the county that have suffered from population loss, business closures and a has-been downtown business district that has all but closed due to struggles with aging buildings, big box stores, online shopping and roads and businesses moving to the outskirts of town.
Fortunately for Havana, Illinois, we have a growing group of businesses, individuals, artists, entrepreneurs, city government and many more folks who are passionately committed to making a huge change here. A change that involves not building new to overshadow the old, but a change that embraces the beauty, history and legacy that we have, dusts it off, shines it up, and presents it to the world in the glowing vision that we already see in our minds eye.
We have something that many suffering small communities do not, we have a huge amount of pride, passion and work ethic that is allowing us all to move forward at a rapid pace to reveal the vision we have for all the world to see. We are also fortunate to have some very special things that many small communities do not including our historic downtown with so much unique architecture, a beautiful Main Street that leads directly to the Illinois River and our gorgeous Riverfront Park with it's walking paths, boat ramps and the Havana Nature Center, a marina that is fun to visit whether you are a boater or not, and the vast array of natural resources and outdoor recreation right outside our back door!
To see the vision, you must understand that today's environment has shifted. Folks no longer want to travel 60 miles one way to visit a Super Wal-mart and a Costco, we want to stroll leisurely down historic brick streets and sidewalks, take in the atmosphere, wave and smile at others we pass on the street, shop and talk to our merchants about why they are doing what they are doing and what they love most about their business and community. We want to experience it all, and on our own terms. We want to take in all of the sights and sounds and truly enjoy discovering a place, our place... Havana. There is a new found value in re-circulating our hard earned dollars into our own community, and not simply ordering our goods online where all of our sales tax is returned to Chicago, Illinois. We want to reinvest in the community and the hard working people that we know and love.
It is vitally important that we share this news and the joy of what is happening now and what is yet to come for our little gem. Many times as human beings, it is easy for us to jump on a negative thread, especially when it comes to our government and our State, however, I would challenge you to spread the good. If you see something positive from a local business or community organization, share that on your social media, give them a kind comment and help them grow. Like their business pages, shop in their stores, utilize their services, write a glowing review and recommend them, and let the world know that something is going on here. We are changing, and we want everyone to see how amazing we are now, and that we just keep getting better here in Havana.
As quickly as our small town revolution is moving, it's probably best to keep your eyes peeled, because big things will be happening again in 2019, and we plan to spread the word and share the excitement with all!