Each Sunday and Wednesday I open up the op-ed page in The Gazette ‘Sound Off’ I remind myself to check the attitude. Readers spout off anonymously…some are head nodding comments and some are head shaking. Every weekday my airwaves are filled with the sounds of WCLO’s ‘Your Talk Show’ with Tim Bremel and Chet Daniels. Open phone time can be filled with negative landmines. Oh, It’s so easy to point out what’s wrong.
The last decade has given naysayers a voice to air their grievances in Janesville. Business closures, unemployment and infrastructure concerns along with partisanship on a non-partisan council opened the door. Even the national media had an opportunity to spin their ‘future Janesville’ as well. I will never forget that hack job in Mother Jones. Some of the comments were unfair and some unfounded. Thankfully, none of the negativity drove Janesville. Earlier this week, I wrote about doubts. I’m not blind to the fact that we aren’t perfect but…we are recovering.
I’ve found it somewhat hard to pinpoint how well Janesville has recovered. If you look at the retail and business climate, the city has turned the corner in many locations. Yes, there’s work to be done on the south side, but that work needs to be supported by the private sector…something that has yet to happen to a large extent. I do believe the city is in a much better place today than it was prior to the recession and the exit of our 90+ year old major employer. It’s different but stronger, more diverse and is lead with a laser sharp strategic manager.
The difference in this recovery is the engine behind it. As a child of the 80s, I vividly recall the downtown movement. Retail made a valiant attempt to ‘comeback’. I frequented the old Bostwick’s, which was transformed into the Olde Towne Mall. There was a buzz in the mid-80s. Dorothy’s Record and Tape moved from a storefront on Main Street to where the Janesville Visitor and Convention Bureau currently resides. Stories and Stuff moved downtown and the Hobby Emporium was a staple for this kid. The downfall of that downtown attempt was the lack of additional infrastructure. Thankfully, the ARISE movement has a vision and is moving at a very structured pace.
Naysayers, you’re always welcome to pipe up. What I’d ask is those negative comments come with a positive solution. It’s easy to pick out faults. Moving forward is where the rubber meets the road.
How do you feel Janesville has ‘weathered the storm’? Please share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.