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Victoria Main Street Program has new manager

By Sonny Long
May 18, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.


MEET MICHAEL SIGGHOMETOWN: Antwerp, Ohio

AGE: 59

COLLEGE: Bowling Green State University, Psychology and Sociology degree, 1974

AWAY FROM WORK: Enjoys bicycling and reading

FAVORITE AUTHOR: Tom Robbins

LAST BOOK READ: "The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else" by Hernando de Soto

MUSIC: Everything from punk rock to classic rock to Dadaist rock. One of the few people who actually listen to Captain Beefheart.

FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS: Being from northeast Ohio, we had no professional sports teams. We had the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns. We thrive on disappointment. Of course, I had to love Ohio State football, the Buckeyes.

Michael Sigg keeps a combination ice scraper and snow brush atop the bookshelf in the Victoria Main Street Program office that he now occupies in Suite 150 at 120 S. Main St.

"That's a reminder of another good reason to move to Texas," said Sigg with a laugh, noting that winters in Wooster, Ohio, are less than temperate.

Sigg, hired as the program's new manager in April, answered a few questions about why he made the move to Victoria and his vision for the future of downtown Victoria.

Q: Talk about your career after college? What did you do?

A: I worked mostly in mental health and substance abuse delivery systems and city management. I worked for two mental health/alcohol recovery boards. Most of my work has been with cities. Most recently, I was 10 years in Wooster, Ohio, as the city manager.

Q: What attracted you to this position?

A: I've been involved with Main Street programs for about 10 or 12 years. I was on the board of Heritage Ohio that is the equivalent to the Texas Historical Commission. I've been on local Main Street boards and have seen the program in action in a lot of places. It's a very good franchise.

Q:What did you see in Victoria specifically that attracted you?

A: Victoria has a lot of great pieces in place. I see things that if I was starting a typical Main Street Program, are almost third tier - we've got the performing arts center, the Nave Museum, the courthouse, the square, the street projects - things that a lot of times come much later. There's a lot of pieces in place, and I'd like to be a part of it.

And the needs that you see?

We need more retail downtown. We need more reasons to come downtown. We're not going to compete with north end development. Successful towns have a good mix of professional office, retail, entertainment, eating and drinking places. A good downtown also needs residential. I built the first loft in Wooster. Eight years later there were 65 lofts. So, we need to look at residential, too.

Q:Challenges?

A: Obviously budget issues are a problem in Texas as they are in every state. We're waiting to see what the state budget looks like to see what Main Street Texas will be able to do over the next few years.

Q:What is the official status of the Victoria Main Street Program?

A: We have received our provisional status. The reasons it was provisional is because we needed to get our nonprofit status approved, which is completed, and hire a director or manager, which is done. The twist is in the state budget right now. We may stay provisional for a year. We just don't know. It will not stop us from moving forward. We are a Main Street Program and will operate as such.

Q:What will be the first thing you take on?

A: Data collection. Surveying. We've done some inventory. We have a sense of what businesses are down here, what's vacant, what's available. The next thing we need to know is what do people think of the downtown. Get some feedback. We also need to survey business owners and building owners to see what they need and want. That's the first thing.

Q:What else would you like people to know about the Victoria Main Street Program?

A: Main Street is a volunteer-driven organization. It is not a director or manager-driven program. My job is to help them develop their vision, refine the vision, research how we can get it done.

Q:The Main Street Program is also a partnership isn't it?

A: We've got some great partners here. The city, obviously, the county, the chamber of commerce, the economic development corporation, the convention and visitors bureau, Keep Victoria Beautiful, and others. We've all got to work together on preservation through economic development.

Q:When I walk in here three years from now, five years from now, what's going to be different? What changes will I notice?

A: I don't know. The direction is not something I am going to set. The direction has to be set by the people, the board, the volunteers. The direction will be set by using the program's four main points - design, organization, promotions and economic restructuring.

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