Marengo Main Street, Inc. held a vision workshop with local business owners, property owners, and residents on June 2, 2011 at Harris Bank in Marengo. Mary Margaret Maule, Coordinator of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at McHenry County College, worked with participants at the event. Maule discussed Marengo’s strengths and weaknesses and increasing economic development.
Lucia Matlock, former Executive Director of Marengo Main Street, said the biggest asset she saw from questioners returned before the workshop is the people’s participation in the community. Corey Brackmann, an alderman for the Marengo City Council and owner of Brackmann Construction, said he would like to see the downtown be successful and grow with storefronts, shops, and restaurants.
"Downtown represents the entire community as a whole," Brackmann said. "I think if it becomes something to be proud of, than the rest of the town will follow."
Bob Levin, owner of Levin’s Shoes & Dry Goods, said he would like to see the downtown become a "social center."
Gene Carroccia, property owner and owner of Bobby’s Shoe Store, said he currently has three empty storefronts downtown. He and his brother, Nick Carroccia would like to see the storefronts filled and have, "foot traffic downtown." Patricia Lawlor, owner of Hyperstitch, said she would like to see Marengo have a sense of identity. For example, she said there was talk of Marengo being a horse community with people being able to ride horses downtown.
"I don’t really think it matters what it is, as long as [Marengo has an identity]," she said. Steve DiMaria, an alderman on the Marengo City Council, said it’s going to take a lot of hard work, strategic planning, and commitment for Marengo to become vibrant.
Maule said participants discussed wanting both a nostalgic-style downtown atmosphere, but also bringing in big-box stores to the community. "You’re the only people in the entire McHenry County that have direct access to an interstate," she said. "It’s mind boggling to me that you don’t have a more concrete plan around that. There’s no better way to grow your community than to bring dollars in from outside your community."
DiMaria said the Marengo-Union Tourism Council has been working to focus and promote existing attractions in Marengo and Union to bring people to the communities.
Participants formed committees to discuss further ideas. An additional vision workshop will be held at 6p.m. on Wednesday, July 6 at the upper level of Harris Bank in Marengo. For more information, call the Marengo Main Street office at 815-568-8440.