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
The city of Opelika has been growing over the last decade, and that shows no signs of slowing down.
The city’s downtown district has welcomed a number of restaurants, shops and businesses that are giving new life to old storefronts.
That’s happening, in part, because City Engineer Matt Mosley and his department have worked with Opelika Main Street to get people into those downtown properties.
“Every year, we get stronger,” Cost said. “We’re doing a lot of things right here. Thanks for making Montevallo what it is.” Read more about what Mayor Cost has to say about Montevallo Main Street's success in their downtown.Read More
The City of Scottsboro Alabama is hiring a new Director for Main Street Scottsboro. This position is also the Events & Marketing Coordinator for the city. See more details and apply online by visiting www.cityofscottsboro.com.Read More
"Montevallo Main Street has shared a 2019 Impact Report recapping the city’s business and community accomplishments from the last year.
The report details new business openings, volunteer hours, building improvements, membership, events and Main Street Alabama awards Montevallo logged in 2019.
'2019 was an amazing year for Montevallo’s Main Street District,' Executive Director Courtney Bennett said. 'We saw a lot of new faces downtown, with 10 new businesses and a church opening.'"
First property in rural Alabama in this national program! Please vote daily!Read More
The Director of Community Development for the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) is responsible for coordinating and supervising all member organizations and working with each community on their program service needs. This person shall serve as the liaison between MMSA and member communities. The Director of Community Development will also ensure that each member community is compliant with MMSA policies and procedures as set forth by the National Main Street Center and the MMSA Board of Directors.Read More
Once a “ghost town,” downtown Gadsden is booming thanks, in part, to Main Street Alabama.Read More
Birmingham’s Historic 4thAvenue Business District, a district managed by Urban Impact, has been selected to join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. Main Street Alabama, a non-profit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success, designated the towns after a rigorous application process.Read More
Calera has been selected to join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. Main Street Alabama, a non-profit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success, designated the towns after a rigorous application process.Read More
Enterprise has been selected to join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. Main Street Alabama, a non-profit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success, designated the towns after a rigorous application process.Read More
Headland has been selected to join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. Main Street Alabama, a non-profit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success, designated the towns after a rigorous application process.
The Main Street executive director coordinates all aspects of the downtown Opelika historic and business districts, including historic preservation, district events and activities, and business growth. He/she is responsible for the development, conduct, execution and documentation of the Main Street program as set forth by the Opelika Main Street Board of Directors.Read More
In 2018, the City of Foley was selected to become a designated Main Street Community. Main Street, a national organization, focuses on bringing jobs, dollars and people back to commercial districts across the state. Economic development is at the heart of the organization’s efforts to revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods. Foley joins 22 other communities across Alabama as Main Street designated cities.Read More
“Every community and commercial district is different, with its own distinctive assets and sense of place. The Main Street
ApproachTM offers community-based revitalization initiatives with a practical, adaptable framework for downtown
transformation that is easily tailored to local conditions.
Main Street Alabama was pleased to honor these exceptional projects during the Awards of Excellence Banquet on August 23, 2018, which was declared Main Street Alabama Day by Governor Kay Ivey.Read More
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Our Main Streets are places of shared memory where people still come together to live, work and play.