|What does this say to you?|
To someone using a wheelchair or scooter, a step says in effect: “Thanks, but we have enough customers.” When lots of barriers exist in a downtown core, it’s like putting up a big ‘WHEELS NOT WELCOME’ sign on the whole town. This doesn't just keep out those who use wheelchairs, but also their families, friends, and coworkers...anyone they might travel with.
With aging Baby Boomers (and our parents) comes a rapidly expanding market demand for accessible communities, tourism, entertainment and retail. The most attractive communities will be those in which we can all get around independently. Add to this returning veterans and anyone experiencing short or long-term mobility challenges, and you get the idea that this is a potentially big constituency.
We have yet to find a rural Idaho town or business that would intentionally turn away tourism or retail traffic. But we also know that creating an accessible entrance—especially in a historic district—can be a daunting and costly prospect for a small business. So our group is focusing on the following:
- Educating small businesses about existing tax deductions and credits that offset the costs of accessible modifications
- Increased access to downtown rural Idaho
- Expanded markets and increased revenue for small businesses
- New job opportunities for regional entrepreneur(s) to manufacture materials and make modifications
- Create a new marketing angle for proactive communities (‘Come visit the most accessible town in Idaho’)