Watch out for the little guy

A trend is beginning in downtown Bremerton that does not bode well for the city’s future.

As of right now, the trend has affected only a few people, but there are more out there who will not yet speak up. There has to be.

This trend is that smaller businesses are beginning to close up shop, move out of downtown or reconfigure their business altogether.

Why? To make way for “progress.”

If the city’s not careful, it will bite the hands that have been feeding it.

While no big business — no hotel, no restaurant chain, no big “anchor” store — would touch downtown Bremerton with a 10-foot cattle prod, the small business owners have been sustaining the area.

The small business owners have been the heart and soul in a downtown that, for decades, has been on the decline.

They struggled.

They stuck it out.

They watched their businesses flounder, but stayed because they believed in downtown and they believed in the American dream.

Now that “progress” is around the corner, someone needs to step up for the little guy. And quickly ... before there’s no little guy left.

With the plans for the new convention center, the new government complex and the new condominiums, the property value of the downtown — if the projects are successful — will skyrocket.

What will happen to the little guy?

Will the city step up and offer incentives to the small business owner to help them stay downtown, or will they be pushed aside? If they are pushed aside, it will be a shame.

That will be the city’s way of saying, “thanks for believing in us, but we don’t believe in you. Thanks for sustaining us when no one else would, but in the name of progress, it is time for you to leave.”

Progress is a strange word.

For there to be progress, there must be a change in the status quo. There must be a definite change. And, when talking about downtown renovation, progress usually comes at a cost.

The city must step up to make sure that cost is not too great for those who have struggled to maintain businesses while the going was tough.

With the city growing and changing the way it is, there will be no room for the smaller businesses.

The bigger anchor stores and chain restaurants will have to go somewhere, which will mean that the existing buildings — and businesses — will have to go somewhere else.

Progress isn’t always progress.

And it always comes at a high cost.

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