Residents hope downtown renovation can bring life back to Ripley

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

RIPLEY, TN (WMC-TV) - One Mid-South town hit hard by a slow economy has been given a much needed facelift thanks to state grant money.

Officials in Ripley, Tennessee are ready to unveil their new downtown to the public.

Its bumper to bumper traffic in downtown Ripley.

There was bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Ripley where workers were putting the final touches on the newly renovated court square.

"I don't remember in my lifetime every seeing this much activity," says resident and business owner Lynn Harmon.

In two years, downtown has been given a facelift.  The dilapidated buildings are now new store fronts.  There are new streets and outdoor lighting.

"I think like the old saying says, if you build it they will come," said Susan Todd with the Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce, "and I think they will come."

Local leaders hope the new downtown will also be a boost to the local economy.

Lauderdale County has the third highest unemployment rate in the state.

"When your prospects come into the area, they bring their wives and the one thing they want to do is look at your downtown area," Todd said.

There is even a waiting list to move into several new downtown apartments.

"I think it's going to fill up all our buildings," Harmon said.  "I think its going to give this community a well needed and deserved sense of pride."

For years, Ripley has been known for its tomatoes.  Local leaders said they hope their new square will be a beacon of hope for what could be a bright economic future.

"Any of the events we can hold downtown, we're moving it downtown," said Todd.

Ripley officials are celebrating the new renovations all weekend long with from live music Thursday night to a performance by the Germantown Symphony Saturday.

For more information on this weekend's festivities, click here.