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First of five downtown improvement meetings is tonight in Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- The first of five meetings hosted by the Willmar Design Center and City of Willmar to gather suggestions about downtown improvement will be 7 to 9 p.m. today in Luther Hall at Bethel Lutheran Church, 411 Becker Ave. S.W. The public is invited.

Mayor Frank Yanish will provide the welcome, and city and Design Center representatives will discuss the history of downtown planning, provide background on past efforts, discuss the results of those efforts and what exists for the current plan.

Representatives will ask the public to define the central business district, discuss downtown access and other issues, make suggestions, participate in a prioritization exercise, and meet with city and Design Center representatives.

Two meetings are planned Wednesday afternoon and evening with African and Latino business owners; and two meetings are planned Thursday afternoon and evening with government and institutional representatives and other downtown property and business owners.