When 44-year-old Deborah Pearson moved back to her hometown of Peculiar from Massachusetts last year, she had no idea she would be seeing her name in the candidate list for mayors on this year’s ballot.
Pearson and her husband, Brian, had big dreams of opening a wine shop that would feature all 150-some Missouri wines that are grown and produced around the state.
“Brian and I were both sick of our day jobs and I thought, ‘Let’s do something fun – more enjoyable – so we came up with this idea,” said Pearson, at their shop opening in December 2012.
Politics were definitely not on her agenda.
But as she began to build her business in an older building nestled near the corner of Broadway and Missouri C Highway, Pearson ran into a few issues with the city’s difficult process for launching new businesses that made opening her store a challenge.
She says she was given the runaround on building codes and inspecitons. Pearson later found out other businesses have had similar troubles.
“I think we need to get rid of the reputation that Peculiar is a hard place to do business,” she says.
Pearson believes Peculiar can be more welcoming to potential business opportunities by performing feasibility studies for the best use and purpose of the properties surrounding the Interstate 49 corridor, and by working to minimize a painful business start-up process.
“It was frustrating,” Pearson said. “Why not have a campaign to show how easy it is? There’s such opportunity.”
In the midst of her election campaign, the mayoral hopeful said she could foresee working with the city to create a booklet explaining the codes and inspection process, especially for individuals looking to revitalize an old building.
“If you’re looking at a commercial space, here’s what you need to do,” said Pearson, about the idea for the instructions. “It wasn’t like that. Peculiar has a tough reputation right now. It’s not business-friendly.”
Pearson said she believes access to the interstate has the opportunity to create economic growth, strong workforce, and to improve city infrastructure.
“Peculiar has the good fortune of being part of this amazing 1,700-mile highway economic development opportunity,” Pearson said. “This interstate will be able to put Peculiar on the map as far as a destination city, as well as place for new business to take advantage of its location on this massive international highway.”
Since moving to Peculiar and starting a business, Pearson has also been quick to get involved with the Downtown Peculiar Arts and Culture District, spearheaded by another local business owner, Brenda Conway.
The DPACD was established in 2007 to preserve downtown Peculiar in order to retain its character and feel by managing the growth that is coming, artists, patrons of the arts, those wanting entertainment options, and unique shopping and dining options.
Pearson sits on the organization’s Economic Restructuring Committee, which has monthly meetings with city leaders to talk about Peculiar’s downtown potential and future.
She said there are a few businesses downtown that are willing to work together for the greater good.
“Peculiar is on a steady path of expansion that will significantly improve the quality of life for the residents, as well as increase the tax revenue for the city,” Pearson said.