A new speaker system has been installed on parts of Main Street in downtown Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
A new speaker system has been installed on parts of Main Street in downtown Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – As downtown businesses begin to open up followed by a shutdown due to coronavirus, shoppers will be in for a special treat as they stroll through Main Street Van Wert. A speaker system has been installed and is playing family-friendly music daily.

Mitch Price, Executive Director of Main Street Van Wert, said that early on in his position it was always one of his goals to illuminate downtown with the sound of music.

“I think it adds a lot to the downtown,” said Price. “There’s a lot of studies that show that having speakers downtown makes people happier, it makes them spend a little bit more money, and it puts people in a better mood.”

The wireless speaker system was recently installed downtown with the help of Streetscape Speakers. Currently, the speaker system runs from the front of the Van Wert Area Economic Development building near Market Street and down to Elite Interiors, just past Washington Street. The plan is to eventually expand on the system and to continue to run the speakers further down Main Street as funding permits.

“The speakers are wireless, so we had to put an antenna on our building that bounces single to them, but they can also bounce single to each other too," said Price. "We can add to it, as well. If we got funds next year or the following year, we could keep adding to it. That’s the plan. We can buy as we go.”

The City of Van Wert and Van Wert County chipped in to give Main Street Van Wert some funding for the speaker system, which can also be utilized for public events and emergencies. Avangrid Renewables also provided funding toward the speaker, said Price.

“When we have parades again, this will be super nice,” explained Price who noted that people will be able to hear parade announcements easier now. The system also came with a wireless microphone. “It’s great for emergencies as well. Heaven forbid if we have any, we can alarm people. We can also put promotions or commercials on there. We can honor our supporting partners with it. There’s a lot of stuff that we can do.”

Currently, the music is being played downtown from 8 a.m. form 10 p.m. and is on a family-friendly station that permits the use of copyrighted music.

“I think this will give people another positive for downtown,” said Price. “What we’re trying to do as a whole–a City and County–through the downtown, I think it just adds to it. It’s another tool in the tool shed and adds to the experience of downtown."