Program seeks to raise Mulvane awareness

Charlie Cadwell of the Mulvane Downtown Revitalization Program kicks off the Think Mulvane program Saturday at the Pix Community Center. The gathering was billed as a chance to “discover the possibilities for business and investment in historic Mulvane.” About 60 people attended the late morning session.

If you want to promote your city, it’s vital for the effort to come from within. With that thought in mind, civic, school and business leaders gathered March 10 at the Pix Community Center to discuss the possibilities the city holds in a session entitled Think Mulvane.

Almost 60 people were on hand, a crowd that pleased leaders such as Charlie Cadwell of the Mulvane Downtown Revitalization Program, who spearheaded the session.

There were 75 minutes of presentations followed by open discussions and tours of downtown buildings for sale.

Melissa Houston, director of the Mulvane Chamber of Commerce, said the group doesn’t just want people to invest money, but invest their time and heart in the city.

“We want people to set their roots in Mulvane,” she said.

She said she’s proud that the city, with 6,500 people, is in a growth mode.

“Our downtown is expanding,” she said. “New businesses coming in and local businesses are expanding, but we could always use more.’

The meeting was “to tell the world what is going on here,” she said.

Houston said a main selling point is a small-town feel but with modern amenities. The city is pro-business, she said, and also has business-friendly resources such as an industrial park and low utility rates from its own electric company.

Ron Paul, who is developing the Emerald Valley Estates housing development with his wife, Diane, said he’s excited about the city’s future and is seeing positive reaction to their project, which will soon have its streets in. They have a house underway and are also working on getting some spec homes built.

The homes will be country-style and sell for $280,000 to $400,000, but will be in the city and its school district, which Paul says is a major pull.

“We have calls from people who want a smaller school district,” he said.

Schools and housing were a major tugging factor for the family of Mayor Shelly Steadman when they moved to Mulvane when she was an infant.

She cited the city’s pride as a reason to stay, while in some cities, young people move away.

“It comes back to me this is my hometown and I have a lot of pride and connections here,” she said. “There’s nothing greater than going to a football game on a Friday night in Mulvane.”

On the business side, she said the city has done a lot to make it attractive to new ventures.

City Administrator Kent Hixson, who moved to the city in 1994 with his family, said they have not been disappointed in living there.

“It’s just a great atmosphere where businesses can thrive and citizens can feel good about their community,” he said.

Putting its money where the talk is, the city has invested more than $1 million to undertake projects such as fixing sidewalks and making infrastructure improvements.

In that vein, it is undertaking a major effort to sell empty downtown buildings and lots with a design on creating a growing business climate.

“The city has doubled down in our business efforts,” Hixson said.

The process of selling 13 properties with eight buildings has been going better than projected, he said.

Joel Pile, Mulvane’s community development director, was on hand to answer questions about the remaining buildings and provide tours.

The city has closed on two building sales and has contracts on four other ones. There are two available, although it groups 100 and 102 W. Main as one property. The other one is 209 W. Main.

One of the sold buildings is going to contain an ice cream and candy store.

While the brick buildings are from the 1880s and most need some sort of work, Pile said they have been inspected as needed by structural engineers and are safe.

With that in mind, officials want to preserve Mulvane’s heritage while positioning it for the future with new life.

“There’s a strong desire to save these buildings,” Pile said. “There’s a lot of history here.”