Posted on May 13, 2016
At Bevill State Community College of Jasper Thursday night, the community was invited to “flourish” with downtown Jasper at the Jasper Main Street Birthday Party, as efforts continue to prosper and revitalize the historic district.
“We are Downtown Jasper, Flourish with Us,” was unveiled as the new Jasper Main Street tagline, along with a logo that pays homage to the heart of downtown Jasper: the Courthouse square.
The new logo starts with a simple circle in the center of a square, with stylized lines branching out to symbolize downtown streets. There are four color blocks in the main logo: a medium shade of blue, orange, red and teal. However, Tripp Muldrow, principal at Arnett Muldrow & Associates, the branding design company, said the logo can be printed in a variety of shades, depending on its intended use.
When discussing the design font, Muldrow said, “We wanted a complimentary script, so we wanted something that was fairly contemporary and progressive, ... but we also wanted a script that [goes] back to your history. ... I always love it if we can have a tagline that has a double meaning. It’s indicative of what’s happening with Main Street, and we hope it will be very expandable in the future.”
Muldrow also illustrated how businesses can use the logo and tagline in marketing their services, and how the logo can be used on wayfinding throughout the district and on promotional apparel and jewelry.
Jasper Main Street Executive Director Mike Putman also revealed the first way the logo and tagline will be used in downtown Jasper.
Participating businesses will be placing a window cling, decorated with the new logo, on their storefronts to promote the new brand and also provide an incentive. Community members can pick up a small Jasper Main Street square coupon at First Bank of Jasper or businesses with a displayed window cling, and each square will represent $5 off a $25 purchase.
In addition to the branding reveal, the results of a recent market analysis survey were presented. Over 1,000 responses were received from 49 different zip codes, and the majority of responders thought retail recruitment should be the top priority in downtown revitalization.
“Our real emphasis is going to be on business retention and expansion,” Jay Schlinsog of CMSM Downtown Professional Network said during his market analysis presentation. “You already have folks that have made an investment here. They’ve stated their claim in downtown Jasper, and they give us the very best opportunity by working with them to grow and expand.”
Forty-five percent of survey responders want to see new dining options, followed by additional entertainment choices. Schlinsog said he particularly noticed public interest in a coffee shop opening its doors downtown.
“You can see 15 percent of all survey responders specifically identified coffee shops and tea rooms, and specifically coffee shops. So, could that happen here? I’m pretty sure it will happen here. Exactly when, where, we don’t know yet,” he said.
Survey responders also showed an interest in living downtown.
“You had almost half of those folks surveyed that said either yes or maybe, would you consider living in downtown Jasper,” Schlinsog said. “That’s pretty exciting.”
The majority of survey responders were interested in Loft style housing.
Customer service, cleanliness, existing restaurants and retail businesses and the Courthouse square were among the strengths cited of downtown Jasper, along with an interest in preserving the district’s historic character.
Schlinsog said he has witnessed much progression in the downtown district.
According to the new Jasper Main Street website, since June 2015, seven new businesses have opened in downtown Jasper, creating 24 jobs. Roughly $3.5 million in real estate has been sold and over $400,000 has been invested in renovations to existing downtown spaces.
“Change is on the horizon,” Schlinsog said. “We were here just six weeks ago, and even in those six weeks we’ve had Restorations relocate. We saw a new mural on one of your buildings. Things are happening here.”
Aside from the market analysis, Putman also announced the new 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Friends of Downtown Jasper, which allows the general public to make tax deductible donations for the revitalization of the district.
Jasper City Council member Jennifer Williams Smith addressed the crowd, and said she is “forever grateful” to Mary Helmer, the president of Main Street Alabama, for helping introduce the program concept and illustrating how Jasper could be a designated Main Street district.
“She gave me new ideas and got me even more excited about it. I am forever grateful,” Smith said. “I am also forever grateful for Mike Putman and all the friends of downtown Jasper for taking that spark and turning it into a big ‘ol community campfire. It has been so exciting the past year to see all the things that are taking place downtown.”
Helmer added, “I tell communities, there’s four points of Main Street. It’s like four tires on a car, and how far and how fast you drive it is really up to you. You guys are a sports car. You’re cruising, you’re going fast.”
Further information on Jasper Main Street can be found on their new website, www.jaspermainstreet.com.
A new statement was also read on Thursday night to reflect the rich history of downtown Jasper, while looking forward to a future of possibilities.
“For well over a century, we have served as the seat of Walker County. We began as a railroad town that grew to serve the coal mines and farms of the surrounding countryside. We thrived as a center of commerce as businesses opened around the Courthouse square and beyond. Over the years, Jasper’s downtown has witnessed remarkable history. Congressmen and senators made their home here. Stars of movies and television walked our downtown streets as children. A president mourned a friend and colleague in our Methodist Church. Downtown Jasper has weathered storms whose winds ripped buildings from their foundations. We have seen the changes brought about as traditional businesses have moved from downtown to the highway. We have watched the economy that built this place change. Yet, stately churches stand testament to the faith we have in this place we call home. Our Courthouse and City Hall stand as proud reminders of our role as a center of government and service. And many businesses remain steadfast in their choice to remain here. Today, we stand on the cusp of change with remarkable momentum. We are remaking vacant storefronts into the largest collection of specialty shops in the region. Our restaurants serve food and ambiance that feel like you are dining in a much larger city. Our events attract people from Jasper, Walker County and beyond. Businesses young and old are creatively rethinking how downtown Jasper will prosper. We invite you to be a part of this significant renaissance. We welcome those ready to explore our dynamic place to visit, to enjoy or to stay. We are Downtown Jasper, Flourish with Us.”
Main Street is a unique preservation based economic development program.