Columbiana getting help to revitalize, grow and bring jobs to its downtown

Posted on Jun 30, 2016

COLUMBIANA, AL (WBRC) -

Governor Robert Bentley was back in his hometown Wednesday night for a special downtown celebration.

Some big things are being planned for Columbiana to get more people to visit and spend their money.

The city is getting some help to revitalize and promote its downtown.

Roberta Hulani opened up Coconut Girl Cafe in downtown Columbiana back in February. 

"I enjoy cooking and serving things I like to cook from my home back in Hawaii," said Hulani.

She talks about how supporters of downtown have been trying to keep the area alive.

"The owners of the building started Shops of Columbiana which gives small business owners the chance to start a business and not spend a whole lot of money doing it," said Hulani.

There's a bigger effort to grow downtown. Columbiana was chosen by a non-profit organization called Main Street Alabama which will help create a redevelopment plan.

Bentley came back to his hometown to be part of the kick-off celebration Wednesday.

"This is to try to renovate the downtown of small towns across the state,” said Bentley. “We’ve been part of this program since I’ve been governor. I think it's really great for downtown. Small towns are the backbone of this state."

Main Street Alabama officials say the plan is to open more shops, create jobs and ultimately give people even more of a reason to come.

"You can't compete with large malls,” said Mary Helmer, State Coordinator with Main Street Alabama. “We're looking at the unique. We're looking at the maker movement in Alabama, looking at what entrepreneurs can do and looking at pop-up shops. Those types of things to be successful long term."

Main Street Alabama says this is about economic development for Columbiana's downtown.

They'll bring in a specialist to help develop a plan and also do some business recruitment.

Montevallo, Heflin and Wetumpka are also working with Main Street Alabama.

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