MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- Business is up in downtown Muskogee.
Multiple stores used the city's incentive program of grant funding to renovate shop interiors this spring.
"Just the anticipation of what's coming and wanting to come in and see what we've done has drawn a lot of attention. Even if they're not coming in to actually shop they're at least coming in to see what's here and what's new," Hattie's House owner Stacy Burns said.
Now stores like Hattie's have accepted an additional grant to re-do storefronts from the outside, returning it to a vintage feel. Work is expected to start this July.
"The whole entire outside of the next five buildings will be taken as much as possible to the original look as possible. We'll have all new windows and doors. We're hoping when we uncover everything it will be brick," Burns said.
Staff with the city tell us in less than two years about 25 new businesses have opened downtown.
"Your downtown area is the heartbeat of your city. If you lose that then you don't have anything. So as long as you keep that pumping, it's just like you yourself. As long as your heart pumps, there's going to be activity," Pinion Creek Trading Company owner Sue Vanderford said.
Businesses want to model this area after the Rose District, and keep shoppers in town instead of losing them to Broken Arrow. Owners tell us they're relieved to see the economy grow, instead of feeding national chains.
"Whenever our cash registers go "ka ching," that money stays in Muskogee. When you go to the corporate owned businesses, when that cash register says "ka ching" it goes out of state," Vanderford said.
The next goal is to expand nightlife, and these entrepreneurs tell us there's potential for additional loft housing in the year ahead.
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