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Chamber, city pursue new lighting, signs

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce recently arepursuing a plan to add decorative signs and lighting in hopes ofdrawing consumers from Interstate 55 to downtown and other parts ofthe city.

Chamber and city officials hope to receive federal grant fundingthrough the Rural Development Administration, a branch of theUnited States Department of Agriculture, to partially fund a$275,000 project that would give Brookhaven a face lift and,hopefully, direct traffic into downtown for shopping. Officialshope the creation of “The Ole Brook Shopping Trail” stimulatesinterest and business among local retailers.

“There is a movement among people who are looking for uniquemerchandise, great customer service, with an old world feel, youdon’t get in malls,” said Cliff Brumfield, executive vice presidentof the chamber. “Brookhaven offers that.”

Brumfield hopes the project with “tap into retail traffic off ofI-55, bringing them further down Brookway Boulevard into downtownBrookhaven.”

Upon exiting the interstate onto the boulevard, visitors will begreeted with two large signs with the message “Welcome toBrookhaven.” The signs, projected to be eight feet long and sixfeet tall, will stand on the right and left sides of thestreet.

Additionly, existing street signs will be replaced with moredecorative signs which, Brumfield says, will make motorists “feelvery welcomed.”

At the intersection of Brookway Boulevard and Hwy. 51, motoristswill be directed to “the Ole Brook Shopping Trail.” Signs willdirect traffic to points of interest up and down the highway andinto the Central Busness District (CBD) in downtown.

Also, old world street lights will line Cherokee Street andMonticello Street leading into the CBD. Lighting will also lineWhitworth Avenue and Railroad Avenue.

Additional funding for the project will come from in-kind cityexpenses and, possibly, funds from increased sales tax revenue,Brumfield said.

Brumfield notes that the increased revenue originated inresponse to the influx of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.Additionally, Brumfield said, the increased revenue is largelycaused by local business initiatives to advertise throughout thestate.

“We have many retailers who advertise throughout the state.People come to those stores and spend money in Brookhaven,”Brumfield said. “The chamber applauds their advertisement effortsbeyond Brookhaven. We have a surprising amount of diverse retailersfrom women’s shops, to men’s shops, from ATV retailers, to outdoorvendors, to new car dealers.”

Brumfield said the shops tap into a regional consumer pool. Hebelieves consumers will be pleasantly surprised if the signs andlighting project is approved. He expected it would be severalmonths before officials know if the project will be funded.

“We’re still working on the application,” Brumfield said.