During the Aug. 2 Canby City Council meeting, Canby Main Street Manager Jamie Stickel provided the council with her department's annual report on the heels of the news that three downtown businesses are closing or moving to another town.

STOCK PHOTO - Canby Main Street Manager Jamie Stickel."It's obviously a tough time for our downtown right now and those local businesses," Stickel said.

Canby Main Street is a program under the Urban Renewal Agency whose stated mission is to "ensure economic vitality of the downtown commercial district, revitalize buildings and street environments, and enhance Canby's identity through (the) promotion of downtown."

Main Street programs exist in several cities across the U.S., and Stickel and City Councilor Greg Parker recently returned from Pittsburgh, Penn. where they attended a national meeting of Main Street managers.

Toward the end of Stickel's presentation before the city council, Mayor Brian Hodson asked her what trends are being seen in other downtown cores across the U.S.

"People want to have an experience rather than just going out to dinner," Stickel said. "Finding those businesses that get people to come back — and we have some of those downtown businesses that do that well now — it's not one blank program that fits for just any business. Another thing is creating an environment where people want to be there. It creates a reason for people literally wanting to buy into the community."

Stickel said that action items for the Canby Main Street program in the year ahead include recruitment efforts and a focus on tourism.

"Some people think that tourism might not help businesses, but if you go to a community for an event or a meeting, that is a direct tie between tourism and businesses," Stickel said. "How do we get better at creating that tie so that if someone comes to, say, the Clackamas County Fair, they stay in Canby and spend money — not just at the fair but stay for the weekend or maybe come back because they had fun at the Junk Re-Funk or another one of our events. Making those connections will be one of the main things we focus on (in the year ahead)."

Parker said the conversation reminded him of a friend who works as a private airplane pilot who "just got a new jet for his boss that practically flies itself."

"I said, 'what do you need a pilot for then?'" Parker said. "He said, 'for when things go wrong.' I don't think we've ever needed you or your skills as a Main Street manager more than (now) when we're going through these mega trends. I was reading how (Portland shopping mall) the Lloyd Center reinvented itself as a downtown service area where chiropractors and hair salons and accountants are moving in. I see that as being the future of downtowns. Forty percent of all Christmas (and holiday season) shopping is now done online. When (former Parson's Canby Pharmacy owner) Jeff Peterson's dad ran Parson's, he didn't have 40 percent of his retail business being eaten up by the internet. We're going to see service centers in the future with things that can't be purchased online. Two of our most prosperous downtown businesses are Pappy's Greasy Spoon and The Backstop (Bar and Grill). Those are places that provide a unique experience."