Hoping to throw a lifeline to downtown Athens restaurants and retail stores, city officials have agreed to let restaurants temporarily block off parking spaces for use as outdoor dining space.
By allowing restaurants to take the action over the next four to six weeks, restaurants could recoup losses suffered during the state shutdown to fight novel coronavirus.
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks is allowing restaurants to apply convert lots to outdoor dining. Athens City Council members approved the mayor's action during the council meeting Monday.
GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - Even though Governor Ivey gave the OK for salons to open Monday, the owners of one salon in Gadsden say they aren’t ready to take that step yet.
The Moxie Salon, located in the old Printup Hotel in downtown Gadsden, will remain closed until next week.
Brad Norris, who co-owns the salon with his wife, says he wants to go above and beyond to keep his business safe for its customers.
Alabama opened in ways Monday, tentative and halting and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
At the Fish Market in downtown Birmingham, where George Sarris has held court for 37 years, the restaurant opened for lunch, but served only about a dozen customers in the first two hours, he said.
They ate off plastic plates, with individually wrapped condiments, on tables clean but far apart. It was dining out, but he admitted it lacked the typical “vibe.”
The mission statement is only four words: Creating jobs. Keeping character.
The work of Main Street Alabama is crucial during normal times. Even more so during the pandemic. More than two dozen communities rely on guidance and support from the nonprofit organization.
“Main Street Alabama has been extraordinarily proactive during the COVID crisis, sharing daily information, strategies, webinars and other educational programs,” said Paul Carruthers, a Regions banker and longtime board member of the statewide organization. “There has been a sharing of ideas on how to assist small businesses in Main Street communities, how to change and increase marketing efforts, and educating small businesses on how to increase sales via online avenues and promotions.”
One of the biggest things that has helped keep Jake’s on Broad afloat is the support of the community and organizations such as Main Street Alexander City.
“If it wasn’t for this small community getting behind us, I don’t know if I would have made it,” owner Jake Mixon said.
The locally owned and operated family restaurant, Jake’s has been a staple in the community for years and now more than ever Mixon is appreciative of the constant support.
While Jake’s currently is offering only curbside pickup due to Gov. Kay Ivey’s restrictions, Mixon said business is still pretty steady.
The COVID-19 outbreak has effected all parts of our community, especially impacting our small businesses.
As part of our goal to promote a strong and prosperous downtown, Opelika Main Street has launched a Keep Opelika On Track t-shirt to help assist our downtown merchants during this time.
The shirts, made locally by Victory Designs, are $20 each with $12 going directly to Opelika Main Street’s downtown member restaurants, entertainment venues and retail shops.
“This is a great way for us to get much needed dollars into the hands of our small businesses,” said Opelika Main Street Executive Director Ken Ward. “We hope this will be a way for the Opelika and Lee County community to show their support for our great local businesses during this unprecedented time.”
Family hobby and gaming store R.O.E. Hobby has moved to downtown Calera and is set to open Friday, May 1, Calera Main Street announced Wednesday, April 29.Read More
FOLEY - Though COVID-19 has closed down numerous businesses across the world, Foley Main Street is still hard at work looking towards the future after the pandemic has ended. Foley Main Street, which kicked off back in 2018 after a long application process, is designed to help cities’ downtown areas further develop and bring the area to life.
Since the beginning of 2020, Foley Main Street’s Facebook page has gone from 1,690 followers to 2,893 followers, while the Instagram account has gone from 416 followers in Dec. 2019 to 687 followers as of April.
WETUMPKA — Business owners in downtown Wetumpka busted a move Friday morning, all part of a combination hootenanny and dance off.
Main Street Wetumpka and the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce, along with downtown merchants, danced to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling." The party was videotaped and will be posted on social media.
"With everyone staying at home, the Wetumpka businesses are ready to get back to work as soon as guidelines say it is time to open the economy again," Pam Martin said.
It all kicked off in the mayor's office, with Mayor Jerry Willis doing the old soft-shoe.
As a small-business owner, Andrew Jones pays attention to detail. Take, for example, the name of his apparel brand, FLY V.
“FLY is an acronym for Forever Live Young, and V is symbolization for wellness and empowerment,” Jones said. “V is the only letter in the alphabet that has one origin and grows upward in two different directions. I took on the meaning for the letter V having one origin, meaning no matter the direction, you always grow upward, stay rooted, and remember where you started.”
Jones, FLY V founder and CEO, opened his first store in 2016. Now his clothing is sold in more than 30 stores across the Southeast, and his flagship FLY V Showroom is in downtown Birmingham’s historic 4th Avenue Business District.
MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WBMA) — This is Main Street in Montevallo, in Shelby County, Ala. It was booming not long ago. The mom and pop businesses here give this small city of 6,600 people its personality.
But now, COVID-19 restrictions have forced businesses to temporarily close or operate on a much smaller scale.
Phil and Suzanne Hurst own Falcon Art Supply. It’s closed for now. And the schools it supplies are closed, too.
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — With bars, restaurants, performance spaces, concert halls and arenas shuttered due to the coronavirus, musicians, from up-and-coming artists to regional draws to international stars, turned to social media.
Performing in front of cellphones and iPads, the artists share songs of hope, strength and encouragement.
“Music is essential. Vital. I’m not sure I know of a time when music is as important as it is when there’s suffering and fear,” said Decatur singer-songwriter Tim Tucker.
In the days before COVID-19 and social distancing dominated the headlines, Montevallo Main Street Design Committee volunteers Jan and John McKinnon designed and built an interactive photo spot downtown.
“The Main Street Design Committee was looking for interactive activities that would engage the public and bring them to the downtown area,” Jan said. She and her husband created a free-standing frame that invites people to take a photo under Main Street’s tagline, “Make your mark on Montevallo!”
A tight-knit community that is known for taking care of each other, Columbiana has managed to find ways to encourage its citizens while maintaining physical activity and safe distancing.
Chosen as the county seat in 1826, Columbiana has an old-town charm that lends itself well to those who need to get outside and move during the quarantine.
So, what’s it like trying to keep a shop going in downtown Opelika during the COVID-19 outbreak?
“Oh, well, we’re not making what we made before,” said Southern Crossing owner Valerie Smith, “but we have actually been slammed this week with Easter. We implemented free delivery — we’ve never delivered before. And we’re doing curbside from 1-4 p.m. every day.”
There has been a big run on Easter baskets for the shop, which is on South Railroad Avenue next to Ma Fia’s Ristorante.
In an effort to keep residents informed, educated and entertained for the next few weeks, Main Street Wetumpka announced plans to detail Wetumpka’s historic downtown in a series of videos.
Main Street Wetumpka executive director Jenny Stubbs said the idea came about after she recently found a hand-drawn map from 1972 by local artist Austin R. Martin in the back of a book.
“I’ve never seen the book or map before but because I have delved into the history of Wetumpka the past four years, people have sent me odds and ends,” she said.
The new coronavirus is first and foremost a threat to the health of millions of Americans. Thousands of suspected cases have been confirmed with countless others yet to be tested, putting an unprecedented strain on health care professionals and hospitals.
But the effects of COVID-19 are being felt just as acutely by small businesses. Across the country, main street corridors packed with historic buildings stand silent, as the customers who typically flock to these places wisely stay home. The results are exactly what you’d expect: Without their primary source of revenue, local shops and businesses must make difficult decisions about whether to lay off workers, or even close permanently.
The National Trust's Main Street America program is seeking to minimize the blow by guiding Main Street communities through the crisis. “The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and local economies is already significant and appears likely to become even more extensive,” says Matthew Wagner, vice president of revitalization programs at Main Street America.
Only 12 weeks ago when the coronavirus was getting a ripple of news in faraway China, Gadsden’s Back Forty Beer Co. was projecting 15 percent growth for 2020.
But within the last week, the dominoes started falling. Now owner Jason Wilson is looking at a loss of about 65 percent of his revenue due to the social distancing measures in place for containing the virus. At the same time, the brewery’s taproom and kitchen are seeing all-time highs in takeout orders and to-go beer sales from community support.
Once a coal-driven community, Jasper has been hard at work rebranding the identity of its small town. The city wants to embrace a culture of health and sustainability and capitalize on a different resource: the great outdoors.
Its vision is to become a recreational destination and trail town, along the lines of a “mini” Asheville, North Carolina.
Jasper has a wealth of wilderness areas nearby like William B. Bankhead National Forest, Walker County Lake and Lewis Smith Lake, so all that’s required is turning ideas into action.
One of the big players at the helm is Jasper Main Street. The town received its designation as an Alabama Main Street Community in June 2015 and, ever since, it has been a big force behind a massive revitalization. Jenny Short, president of Jasper Main Street and a Jasper native, says becoming a Main Street Community was a game-changer that the town embraced wholeheartedly.
COLUMBIANA – The dilapidated property known as the old pool hall on South Main Street in downtown Columbiana is undergoing much-needed restoration.
Since purchasing the property in February, Eagle Construction Products and Eagle Framing owner Rob McLeroy and his team have started what they are calling phase one of the restoration process: removing dangerous materials from the inside of the roughly 4,320-square-foot building, demolishing the damaged roof and floors, and stabilizing the building’s four sides, including the brick front façade on Main Street.
The South Huntsville Main Business Association showed off its potential this week with a “Possibilities Tour” of the upcoming Hays Farm development.
The organization welcomed business owners and potential business owners who may be looking to start a business or open a location on the busy south end of town.
In spite of the rain, a couple dozen people ranging from those interested in doctor’s offices to restaurants, retail stores and, even, office space took the tour.
At the post-tour luncheon, SHMBA Executive Director Bekah Schmidt laid out everything that is happening on the 850-acre Hays Farm development. Included in that is the former Haysland Square, renamed The Market at Hays Farm, and the Huntington shopping area.
“A lot of people know the daily traffic counts along the Parkway in that area are anywhere from 52,000 to 75,000 cars a day, making it very appealing,” said Schmidt. “But we wanted to show people there is much more coming, and there are additional benefits to opening a business on this end of town that people don’t know about.”
The University of West Alabama has joined with AT&T and Alabama Power Company to announce the Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship, set for Friday, April 17 at the Bell Center on the UWA campus. The event will feature an exceptional slate of successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and experienced economic leaders who bring unique perspectives to address rural opportunities for entrepreneurial development in Alabama’s rural communities.Read More
Will Mason plans to turn the former Woodlawn Theatre into a music teaching and performance hub, but the project might be more transformative than just revenue and revitalization.
A federal program that gives capital gains tax breaks for investments made in economically distressed areas is funding the project at 5503 1st Avenue North in Woodlawn, a neighborhood just east of downtown Birmingham.
As a part of the Main Street program, the city has started hanging banners of "Headland Heroes."
The banners come with a $300 application fee, and the hero has to be approved by the Main Street Committee.
The $300 goes toward revitalizing downtown through the Main Street Program.
Enterprise Main Street has its first Board of Directors.
A 13-member board as well as an additional seven non-voting, ex-officio members will be working with Enterprise Main Street Director Cassidi Kendrick. The project, part of Main Street Alabama, next will takes its first steps toward planning and preparing for the future prosperity of the city’s traditional downtown business district.
The Enterprise City Council on Tuesday night approved the 13 Board of Directors.
The renovation of Birmingham's Masonic Temple is just a few months away.
The empty building - an economic and cultural hub of Birmingham’s early African-American community - is also a key part of redevelopment planned for the city’s northwest quadrant.
Project developer Irvin Henderson told property owners in the civil rights district that work to turn the building into an economic incubator should begin this summer and finish by summer of 2021.
"The northwest quadrant plan really gives us an opportunity to sync a lot of plans together to actually use the masonic temple as a catalyst for a number of other development opportunities" says Urban Impact Executive Director Ivan Holloway.
Opportunity Alabama, the nation’s first nonprofit organization to create a marketplace for Opportunity Zone (OZ) investment in a state, has been named the best OZ organization in the U.S. for rural communities.
Forbes, in partnership with the Sorenson Impact Center, examined more than 100 OZ organizations around the country, judging them on the Opportunity Zone Reporting Framework, which prioritizes community benefit and engagement, transparency and impact. Forbes awarded Opportunity Alabama the grand prize Feb. 5, saying the organization is the best in its category of connecting OZ communities, investors and entrepreneurs, plus larger institutions like banks, universities and development organizations.
Main Street Wetumpka receives grant for signage that will mark the locations that films like "Big Fish" and "The Rosa Parks Story" were shot in the downtown.Read More
Birmingham’s innovation district has a new name and a bigger footprint. Tuesday night during the Velocity Accelerator 2020 announcement at Innovation Depot, The Switch was unveiled as the city’s new epicenter of innovation. David Fleming, CEO of REV Birmingham, said The Switch brings partners across 14 Birmingham organizations together in harmony with Birmingham’s new City Center Master Plan.Read More
Main Street is a proven strategy for revitalization.