Jared Sidman has been to Costa Rica and Thailand. He’s spent time in Mexico, Canada and the Micronesian Islands. He’s seen 43 of the 50 states and now he’s settling in at his desk in Cottage Grove as the city’s latest Main Street Coordinator.
“Let’s see, I recently finished a contract with the Peace Corps and they have an affiliation with the University of Oregon — so yeah, I basically found out about the position through UO,” Sidman said in recalling his introduction to Cottage Grove and the Main Street Program.
The position of coordinator is a function of the broader Main Street Program, a network of pro-grams led by grassroots efforts dedicated to improving the quality of life at the local level.
In Cottage Grove, the Main Street Coordinator has taken on several responsibilities, depending on the individual coordinator, and all tied to the goal of acting as a liaison between Main Street businesses and the city.
It’s a goal Sidman has worked into the center of his plans just a week after accepting the position.
“Basically, I’m working with the Main Street board and getting my feet under me and learning the town,” he said. “I’m meeting with the business owners and letting them know that there’s someone in this position full-time for the first time in a while and I will be their connection to the board and information.”
So far, he’s met with approximately a dozen businesses and has started outlining his plans for the year. First up, Halloween.
Each year, Cottage Grove hosts Downtown Trick-or-Treat, an event that often sees up to 3,000 children, decked out in their Halloween best, flood Main Street to scoop up candy being offered by local businesses.
“I’ll touch base with the business owners and make sure they’ll have their doors open and be involved for Halloween,” Sidman said. “That’s beneficial for them to be there and have their faces seen when everyone is there.”
He’s also throwing his weight behind the annual Christmas celebration that sees caroling in All-America Park and an appearance by Santa Claus via South Lane County Fire and Rescue’s fire truck.
“I’m also working with the board on an upcoming spring fundraiser,” he said.
Aside from lending a hand for community events, Sidman will apply his computer science and teaching degrees to working with businesses on future issues, like construction.
Earlier this year, the city applied for a $10 million grant to help fund the refinement plan — a yet-to-be finalized upgrade for downtown featuring new sidewalks, street signs and lighting.
The grant is expected to be awarded in December of this year and if Cottage Grove receives the funds, construction could become part of the everyday on Main Street.
“The other big piece I’m working on,” Sidman said, “is what we’ll call the business tool kit. They’ll be construction in 2021 on Main Street and the details of this we’ll put out later but we’ll need to work with the businesses to make sure they can stay open when Main Street is under construction.”
Sidman is the second cordinator in almost as many years. He’s replacing Carlene Giroud who was let go in Dec. of last year after she was hired in a transitional role, replacing longtime coordinator Shauna Neigh who resigned her post.
Prior to Giroud’s arrival, the coordinator was not a direct employee of the city.
Giroud worked under city planner Amanda Ferguson, was paid by the Economic and Business Improvement District (EBID) and worked on addressing downtown businesses’ concerns and attempt to facilitate relationships.
The position has since changed again and morphed into a full-time position thanks to added funding from the RARE Program or Resource Assistance for Rural Environments.
According to city manager Richard Meyers, Sidman’s full-time position is paid for by RARE funds as well as the city and EBID.
When asked what he would like residents and businesses to know, Sidman said, “My door’s open. I have a lot to learn and I’m not going to be perfect but I think the big thing is I’m here full time and open to working with people and hearing their ideas and getting that to the board to get everyone on the same page.”
Originally published in the Cottage Grove Sentinel