Main Street Alabama announces newly Designated Community and launches urban program for 2017

Posted on Jun 01, 2017

Contact: Marylon Barkan

Main Street Alabama announces newly Designated Community and launches urban program for 2017

BIRMINGHAM- Marion has been selected to join the ranks of 20 other cities across the state as a Designated Main Street Community concentrating on revitalizing their historic commercial districts. Through a rigorous five-month application process the community has proven consensus, capacity and the community engagement necessary to launch and sustain a Main Street program.

According to Mary Helmer, President and State Coordinator for the program, Main Street Alabama will begin providing Marion with intensive board development, training with work plans and goals, market analysis with economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance, and quarterly training related to downtown development immediately. “When a community is ready for Main Street, as Marion is, our economic development program works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.” Helmer added that the interview panel was impressed by the heartfelt community presentation that demonstrated a love of downtown Marion coupled with a vision for what they could be, and the drive to make it happen.

In addition to it’s work in Marion, the statewide downtown revitalization program will launch a new concept, UrbanMain, in partnership with the National Main Street Center in an urban district in the state. The pilot program location will be announced later this summer. This new effort will provide a unique framework for building highly competitive urban business districts. “As part of our network across the U.S., Main Street Alabama will be featured as a leader in the National Main Street Center’s newly launched UrbanMain pilot program, and as part of the UrbanMain national network of urban commercial district leaders,” said Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs for the National Main Street Center. “Led by Main Street Alabama and in cooperation with the National Main Street Center, we are confident Main Street efforts will result in sustainable neighborhood commercial revitalization focused on community engagement, small business and job creation, urban design, and residential vitality.”

According to Mary Helmer, “Main Street Alabama is excited to work in partnership with the National Main Street Center as the coordinating program for the pilot. Our goal in accepting this challenge is to be able to offer unique services and training opportunities to the state’s urban areas. We see urban districts as individual Main Street programs with different needs from our traditional programs. This program will not only benefit the movement nationally, but will strengthen the urban districts in Alabama.”

Marion and the state’s first UrbanMain program will join Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Eufaula, Florence, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Heflin, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Selma and Wetumpka and in using Main Street's comprehensive and incremental approach. Each Designated community reports their success by tracking their reinvestment statistics monthly. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 373 net new businesses, 2,774 net new jobs, and 45,213 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June of 2014.

Main Street Alabama will continue to add new communities annually. Applications to become a Designated Main Street Community will be available in Winter, 2018. Until then, communities interested in downtown revitalization can participate in Main Street Alabama's Network.