All good things come to an end, so the departure of four-year Main Street manager Hasco Craver to another job is no surprise, but it is a substantial loss to Commerce.
The Commerce program — and the downtown — have prospered under Craver’s attention. While occupancy of buildings ebbs and flows, consider that for the times, the Commerce downtown is doing well. Craver is chief among the reasons.
The DDA’s committees are more active than ever, involving numerous citizens. Craver has also built over the years a large base of volunteers who provide labor and energy for the DDA’s various projects. Overall, citizen participation in the DDA and its activities is at its highest level ever, as is confidence in the DDA and its program.
The reason is people like Craver and like working with him. He doesn’t get involved in local politics, he makes a point to communicate with merchants and talk to people on the streets, and his pragmatic approach to solving problems, along with his can-do attitude, gets things done. He’s worked not just harder but also more effectively than any of his predecessors.
For example, Craver worked tirelessly to meet the long-time need for restaurants downtown. When he arrived, there were none, today, there are four. A lot of things had to happen before Little Italy, Subway, Wingslingers and Harmony Grove Grille would locate here and Craver was involved in many of them. In fact, had Craver not intervened to help Wingslingers get a small Employment Investment Program loan through the city, Wingslingers would probably have left the downtown rather than relocated on the same street.
The good news is that Craver will continue to live in Commerce, continue to be interested in the downtown, and in his new position he’ll also be available to help Commerce find grants for future projects related to community development and economic development. We just have to share him with the 12 county governments and 53 other municipalities.
The difficulty will be finding a successor who can live up to the standard Craver has set. The combination of ability, enthusiasm, personality and work ethic we’ve become accustomed to is not often found. Unfortunately, when someone has those traits you know it’s only a matter of time before you lose them to a better opportunity, but we’ll have to be content with the four years of excellent service Craver has provided to Commerce.