ANDERSON — Claudette Bettencourt says it's time for a change in downtown Anderson.
Bettencourt, owner of Your Way Café, 1023 Meridian St., and Conscious Creations, 1019 Meridian St., said the merchants in downtown Anderson need to unite to support one another and help revive the heart of the city.
She said merchants need some form of representation when it comes to business issues and to explore ideas for events to draw customers downtown.
“Alone, we can do little; together, we have the power to make the necessary changes so that we, downtown, and the community will benefit,” Bettencourt said.
There is already an association in place intended to address the issues Bettencourt wants to resolve.
Anderson Indiana Main Street (AIMS) is a non-profit formed by downtown business members “to stimulate, enhance, and nurture an inviting atmosphere for civic, social and economic activities in downtown Anderson, Indiana,” according to its Facebook website.
Initial funding for the group included $10,000 from the city of Anderson, AIMS officials said. But city funding has since ended, and the AIMS budget is now maintained through private donations and fundraisers. No membership dues are required to belong to the group, but AIMS officials were unable to provide exact budget details.
"We have plenty of money," said Nancy Moneyhun, president of AIMS.
That money, Bettencourt said, could be used to hold more downtown events and activities.
She said AIMS has failed to take an active role in representing downtown merchants. It took her six months to track down someone from the association to discuss becoming involved with the group, she said.
Bettencourt also said AIMS members have rebuffed her attempts to become involved in the group and, in the two years since she opened her businesses, there has not been a single group meeting with all of the downtown merchants to discuss issues.