Melida Heien, Kilgore’s new Main Street program director, is ready to take on challenges.
Heien's first day on the job in Kilgore will be May 12. She currently serves as the executive director of the Main Street program in Pekin, Ill.
Heien was struck by the opportunities in Kilgore.
"In terms of the downtown, I think that the overall package is awesome. I see so much potential -- it's past the point of potential, it's there. There's a lot to work with."
Heien said believes in the effectiveness of social media and hopes to help small businesses collect the digital tools and skills they need to bolster customer traffic.
"That might be something I look at right away, because that's a pretty easy fix and I have lots of tips and tricks I can offer people to help them get their social media out there and get it going," she said.
The Downtown Entertainment District developed by Main Street Advisory Board sets the stage, Heien said. With historic theaters as its anchors, the district is ideally-situated to be closed to traffic during festivals, she noted during a visit.
"I liked how the block that it was in, when you close it down it doesn't really impact any businesses. I thought that was just awesome," she added, eager to work toward the renovation of the Crim Theater and the Texan, "the way those theaters look and have a really awesome backdrop for things."
Heien said she's impressed by Kilgore’s commitment to historic preservation.
"I want to be in this community," Heien thought when she first saw Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation's memorial derricks and the theaters.
"Those theaters have such a history in this community, and I think people in Kilgore have such a certain love for those buildings. They've always been there, people have stories about different things that have happened," she said. "I love that the city found value in them enough to buy them and not tear them down, for the historical purposes of it as well as the economic purposes of it.”