Commission ready to revitalize downtown North Bend

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NORTH BEND - Business revenues downtown haven't been the same since the freeway was rerouted to the south in the mid-'70s, taking with it hundreds of potential shoppers and turning the heart of the city into a struggling business district. Despite the hard times, the city's Economic Development Commission is ready to take aim at the problem in hopes of luring shoppers off the freeways and into the stores.

The seven-member committee was formed in 1996 to examine the problems facing downtown merchants and to help revitalize an area that was suffering from an identity crisis brought on by an ill-fated attempt to create a Bavarian-design theme among local businesses.

With faded alpine storefronts and a struggling customer base, the committee recently enacted a plan aimed at bringing back downtown. The first step for the committee was to refocus its attention to the point at hand.

"For a while the [commission] has had to focus on what to do downtown," said Tonie Cook, management analyst for the city and commission liaison. "We needed to figure out who we wanted to be."

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