Main Street Alabama has selected Marion as its newest Designated Main Street community for commercial revitalization of its historic district.
Later this summer, Main Street Alabama will unveil a new urban concept as part of a national pilot program.
Marion, in Perry County, earned the Main Street designation after a five-month application process.
Main Street Alabama will hold a kickoff event in Marion sometime in July, with a resource meeting in August.
Mary Helmer, president and state coordinator of Main Street Alabama, said the program will begin providing Marion city officials with board development and training for work goals, market analysis, economic development strategies and technical assistance to get downtown development started.
Marion, seat of Perry County, has a population of more than 3,600 and is home to Judson College and the Marion Military Institute. The birthplace of Coretta Scott King, the city has several historic districts and numerous historic buildings.
Helmer said the program's interview panel was impressed with the "heartfelt community presentation" they heard, as well as a love of Marion "coupled with a vision."
Marion joins Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Eufaula, Florence, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Heflin, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Selma and Wetumpka in the Main Street program.
According to the program, the 20 communities have reported 373 net new businesses, 2,774 net new jobs and more than 45,000 volunteer hours since 2014.
In addition, this summer will see the kickoff of UrbanMain, a pilot program in conjunction with the National Main Street Center. UrbanMain's first Alabama location will be announced later this summer. It is aimed at bringing some of the Main Street Alabama concepts to "highly competitive urban business districts."
Helmer said the program will see urban districts as individual Main Street programs with different needs than the traditional program. Dionne Baux, director of urban programs for the National Main Street Center, said in a statement that Alabama will be featured as a leader in the program.
"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," he said.