Tammy Johnson hopes to bring the same energy and enthusiasm to her new role as Main Street director as she did during her efforts to build and grow Girl Power.

Johnson, the former Learn and Serve coordinator for Duncan Public Schools, headed up the popular Girl Power program that sought to build fifth-graders’ self-esteem and teach positive relationship skills.

Now she moves into a new role as the latest director for a Main Street program that has been in need of consistency. Johnson is the fifth to hold the position in the last three years.

Despite that, Johnson said she is undeterred.

She said it’s a positive to come into the position at a time when other key community leaders are also relatively new. Debra Burch is getting settled in as the Chamber director and Lyle Roggow is doing the same at the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation. The Simmons Center and Stephens County fairgrounds will each have a new leader with the departures of Tim Finkle and Danny Lowrance, respectively.

Jessika McDonnell, the director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, is the “veteran” with the longest tenure of four years.

Johnson said she plans on utilizing her past experience in her new role.

She was the Learn and Serve coordinator for 2 1/2 years, teaching students through community service projects. In that role, she also worked with students on the importance of fitness, oversaw the fifth-grade district-wide health and nutrition fair, and conducted team building and communication skill workshops with students and teachers.

Her previous work also included customer service roles at Tastee Freeze, owned by her grandmother, and Health Star, a medical equipment business.

She’s been involved in the Smart Start coalition for early childhood development, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, United Way, Immanuel Baptist’s faith ministry, and the foster grandparents organization.

Not surprisingly, Johnson is on an ambitious schedule, having just returned from Seattle after attending a national Main Street training.

Her first major project is coming up.

“My short-term goal is to make Founder’s Day a success, considering I have never been involved in this event. I will learn by doing.

“My long-term goals are to see new businesses that will cater to each age group come downtown. I want to promote a family and more kid-friendly atmosphere.”

She returned from her training brimming with ideas.

“I would like to see a farmers’ market downtown on the weekends with our local produce for sale.

“I came back from Seattle with the top trends for businesses — dining in a pedestrian setting, dessert-only restaurants, specialty locations with chocolate, healthy food, wine, coffeehouses, and apparel.

“If we have businesses for each age category, we get everyone downtown. Restaurants are a must for the success of downtowns.

“Thinking about how busy a society we have, wouldn’t it be nice to just come hold a spouse’s hand and stroll downtown slowly, window shopping at specialty shops and having a nice meal that maybe you could see cooked?”

The key, she emphasized, is getting people to come.

“I see a destination for tourists and for our own community residents. We all have an opportunity to make downtown something of value and use. We just have to put forth a little effort and time and make it happen.”

Johnson said expanded business hours would help.

“If we are only open 9 to 5 and a half day on Saturday, we are catering to the unemployed. And we need to do that, too, but we can’t miss out on any customers.

“My biggest obstacle is parking. In Seattle, I walked at least 30 blocks a day and never thought a thing about it. I knew to see the sights I had to walk. But when I came home, I wanted to park at my front door. I don’t know the answer to this one but I would love suggestions.”

Another challenge, she said, will be recruiting additional help.

“We need volunteers for our promotions and design committees for downtown Duncan.”

Anyone interested can call 580-252-8696 for information on when the committees meet.

Staying up with the latest technology can help as well, she added.

“E-commerce is where I will need a lot of help but our national program is making a Main Street Web site that will have a link to all 1,600 Main Street programs.

“From there, I plan to add links to each Main Street member’s homepage.”

She said she is enjoying the pace and the variety of her new role.

“I will listen, be open-minded, attend training to stay knowledgeable about current trends, work hard, encourage merchants and board members, make meeting times fun and engaging, show supporters successes, communicate with everyone, and simply love downtown Duncan.”

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