Irene Delgado is the new executive director for the Dumas Downtown Association (DDA). If you have attended an event in Dumas recently, you have probably seen her. "I have been to a lot of events," she said. Delgado was, until recently, a payroll specialist at Moore County Hospital District (MCHD). She also did event planning and fund raising, both for the hospital district and other organizations around town. "I was there for the Dino Dash, Shop With a Cop, and the retirement party for the Grahams. I am at a lot of the hospital events as well as events with Crime Stoppers."
When Delgado heard that the DDA was looking for an executive director, she jumped at the chance. "I love Dumas for one, so I have big plans to see downtown redone. I always thought that Dumas had a lot of potential and downtown has potential, so when I saw this job, I thought it would be perfect," she said.
Delgado has already begun getting things organized; she hopes to have an office up and running by the end of next week. Silveus Insurance has allowed the DDA to use an office in their building on Bliss Avenue rent free for the first year. Eventually, though, Delgado says she hopes to have a permanent office for the DDA in a building along Dumas Avenue.
Because the DDA is a relatively new organization, it has not had paid staff or an office. It received its official status as a non-profit organization only last year. The organization had officers and a board of directors, all volunteers, and all with other full-time jobs. Though the organization was able to put on a sidewalk sale, the lack of paid staff limited the organization's access to government grants and hindered its ability to help fill the empty buildings on Dumas Avenue with viable businesses. "I think now that there is actually someone there to focus on all of it, things will start moving and things will start getting done," she said. "There are quite a few empty buildings. There has not been someone who could point people in the right direction on how to keep those buildings up to date and find the resources to do that."
One of Delgado's first priorities will be to reach out to downtown business owners to let them know what grants are available to help them maintain and renovate their buildings to make them more attractive to potential businesses. Many of the buildings downtown are owned by people outside of Dumas.
She says she wants to work with the City of Dumas, the Dumas/Moore County Chamber of Commerce, and the Dumas Economic Development Corporation to come up with incentives to encourage existing downtown businesses to stay or expand and to encourage new businesses to open in the now vacant buildings. "Our goal right now is to fill those empty buildings and get more people downtown. I want to get it (downtown) back to what it used to be, but more modern, more up to date."
Delgado thinks the opening in February of a new brew pub on Dumas Avenue is a positive sign. "I am excited about that; I think it will kick start the renewal process downtown."
Delgado recognizes that the downtown area will face challenges during the three year Dumas Avenue resurfacing project expected to begin later in the year, not the least of which will be parking and access to businesses. She says she will be working with the city and others to help businesses make it through the ordeal. "It will be a long three years. That is going to affect people seeing progress downtown … we are going to try to assist the business owners as best we can." She says she hopes to have an action plan for parking downtown in the the next couple of months.
Delgado says she is planning a "meet the director" night for the later part of January to introduce herself to the community, and she is anxious to get started marketing the DDA. "A lot of people don't know it," she said. She also has some other events in mind for the DDA to put on this year to generate interest in downtown. There will be another sidewalk sale, a mural and block party project, and the DDA will help KDDD radio with their Buddy Holley event this summer. "For now, we want to ease our way in and figure out what we need and what the community needs. I am excited to see what this organization can do to show the community that Dumas downtown can be somewhere families want to go."