Faces of the Boom: New development coordinator looks to rejuvenate Tioga’s Main Street

Melissa Koch, the new community development coordinator for Tioga, N.D., pictured Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, wants to rejuvenate Main Street and bring new businesses downtown. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

TIOGA, N.D. – Melissa Koch is bringing fresh eyes to Tioga.

The city’s new community development coordinator wants to reach out to other new residents like herself to get them more involved in the community.

Koch also is working to rejuvenate Tioga’s Main Street while staying true to the town’s character.

“I love the charm of small towns, so it’s important to me to keep it that way,” Koch said.

Koch, 29, is a Portland, Ore., native, but she most recently lived in Billings, Mont. Koch moved to Tioga in November to join her fiance, who works in the Bakken as an oilfield lease operator.

Koch, who began working for the city this month, said one of her priorities is to find ways to get Tioga’s new residents connected in the community and more integrated with longtime residents.

For example, many community events are traditionally attended by longtime residents, so Koch plans to enhance the city’s website and Facebook page to try to reach more newcomers and get them involved.

Koch also is involved with economic development, and is working to fill six vacant lots Tioga has on Main Street. She would like to see more restaurants, clothing stores and other businesses downtown rather than locating on the outskirts of town.

“Main Street has been a part of this town since it started,” Koch said. “This is the heart of Tioga.”

The community development coordinator position had been vacant in recent years and previously was combined with another position, said Tioga Mayor Nathan Germundson.

Now the city has grown to the point where it needs someone full time, and the city can benefit from fresh ideas, he said.

“She seems like she’s excited to take on the challenge,” Germundson said.

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