Demopolis has joined its black belt city of Marion as the Main Street Alabama community.
Main Street Alabama is a private, not-for-profit, and federal coordination program of Main Street America. The National Main Street Four Point Approach focuses on working in four areas: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Vitality with strategies unique to the community and grounded in market-based outcomes.
“Setting achievable goals using community input and market data is critical to revitalizing the district, but bringing stakeholders together to work toward a common goal is equally important,” said Mary Helmer Wirth, President and Coordinator of the state of Main Street Alabama.
Demopolis, LaFayette, Leeds and Talladega will receive technical services from Main Street Alabama starting this month.
“Applying for the Main Street Alabama designation takes time, dedication and dedication from multiple people in a community,” Wirth said. “The process begins with attending a new city bid workshop in January and deciding to proceed with a letter of intent to bid that demonstrates both public and private support for the effort and the need and capacity.”
“The application itself is designed to get a community to do a good job of self-assessment based on vacancies, absentee owners, historic properties, and the current economy in the downtown or neighborhood business district,” Wirth said. “Typically it takes about two to three months to complete the application with a group of people working together. It is a wonderful process of self-discovery.”
In Demopolis (population 6,734), the group expressed a desire to benefit from outdoor recreation. The Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers meet in Demopolis and is a year-round tourist attraction, with the annual chamber-sponsored Christmas on the River drawing nearly 40,000. Main Street Demopolis aims to make downtown Demopolis a place that will bring these tourists to the neighborhood by building a strong marketing presence, increasing shopping and dining options, and renovating the historic Marengo Theater.
Goals for Lafayette (pop. 2,684) during the designation process include improved appearance of historic buildings and streetscapes, diversification of the retail mix, increased after-hours activity in the district, and increased community involvement in the city’s overall betterment. In their bid, Leeds (population 12,324) expressed, “With the help of Main Street Alabama, we hope to truly flesh out the strong bones that already exist in our historic, charming downtown area so that we can create jobs and increase foot traffic.” , and leverage the community participation already in place. We also hope to achieve a facelift of our historic business district, including design details, branding, streamlining and beautifying the look of our downtown area while retaining its small town charm.” For Talladega (population 15,861), creating a district for all users is important. In their application, they stated: “We aspire to develop an economically healthy pedestrian community where diverse people of all ages, including students, children, senior citizens and the deaf and blind, come together to live, learn, play and do.” to enjoy life.”
Main Street Alabama will begin work in these communities immediately to provide board development, goal setting, work planning, market studies with economic development strategies, targeted design support, and training related to district development.
Demopolis, LaFayette, Leeds and Talladega join Marion, Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Atmore, 4th Avenue Business District – Birmingham, Calera, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Florence, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden , Headland, Heflin, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, South Huntsville, Wetumpka, Woodlawn District – Birmingham using the Main Street approach.
The Designated Communities of Main Street Alabama have reported a total of 909 new businesses, nearly 3,000 new jobs, $688 million in private investment, $96 million in public improvements, and 139,177 volunteer hours in their districts since June 2014.
Main Street Alabama application workshops are held in January each year. Communities interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to join the Main Street Alabama Network. For more information, visit www.mainstreetalabama.org.