By BOB BURGESS
MELROSE — In a wide-ranging discussion before the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, Mayor Robert J. Dolan said Melrose faces a lot of challenges, not the least of which is “building a community built to last.”
During his annual breakfast meeting appearance in Windsor at Oak Grove, Dolan rallied business leaders and challenged them to think up new ways of meeting the demands of consumers, adding that municipal government must do the same if the city is to survive, and thrive, in the future.
“We must remain vigilant,” Dolan said. “We all share a competitive environment. There’s always someone coming in with something newer than you. There are more choices in this city than ever before.” The mayor spoke about the need for innovation, urging merchants not to “live in the past.”
In the short term, he continued, local business leaders need to find a way to rebound after an economically-crippling month of major snowstorms that have put “businesses on one knee. We need to help the various business districts in Melrose bounce back,” Dolan said, suggesting a group be formed to investigate ways to do that.
One of many issues that concerns Dolan and business owners, he said, is the fact that per square foot rent costs have never been higher in the main business districts, which include Main Street downtown, the Highlands, West Emerson Street and West Wyoming Avenue.
Dolan, offering the services of the city’s website and his own blog, told Chamber members to come up with small vignettes about the types of businesses located within Melrose border. “We will provide whatever advertising, news and vignettes are out there,” Dolan said.
Then the mayor began talking about the population demographic that is interested about the city on-line. They include mothers of children under the age of five; residents who have lived in Melrose less than five years, seniors between the ages of 63 and 75 (”solid incomes,” “they invested well,” “they are healthier, more engaged, highly educated and raising their grandkids because their kids are working”) and single people. The last group, he explained, represents a “powerful buying force” because they are deciding whether to stay in Melrose for a long time and want certain services offered to them.