Your are invited to a social event at the Vintage 1889 at 6 P.M. tonight for wine tasting, music and an auction to help raise money to support the initial Main Street program fees.
Over the last few months various elements in the business community of Fort Payne have been meeting and working on the potential of Fort Payne becoming a “Main Street” community. Some of you may not be familiar with the program. It is a nationwide program to redevelop the original downtowns of small town America. Over the last 5 decades many small towns have lost their downtown, retail, restaurants and offices to a suburban outskirt environment often on an outer loop or next to an interstate. The Main Street program is a comprehensive marketing and business plan to revive downtowns.
Here is Main Street Alabama’s mission statement;
Main Street Alabama is focused on bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic communities. Economic development is at the heart of our efforts to revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods. We have developed a tiered program of services to help communities organize themselves for success, improve the design of their neighborhoods, promote their districts and enhance their economic base.
Towns and cities in Alabama like Athens, Decatur, Opelika, Cullman, Gadsden, Fairhope, Florence and Auburn speak for themselves. If you have been to any of these lately you will see almost 100% of storefronts occupied, lots of restaurants, gift shops, art galleries and entertainment venues. These towns have thriving downtowns again much in part to their becoming a certified Main Street downtown.
Fort Payne has gone through several steps already. Main Street has made a public presentation, and the Fort Payne Merchants Association has sent Lynn Brewer and Connie Fuller to the Main Street annual seminar of which must be attended in order to fill out an application to be considered eligible for Main Street selection. Only three cities per year are selected. The selection committee takes a look at how ready our community is to begin the program. Things like the willingness of business owners to participate and how engaged the local elected officials and community leaders are toward the program. Once selected as a Main Street community the process begins which is four tiered.
1- Technical Assistance; How to get funding, training seminars, market analysis, strategic planning, planning guides and on-site visits.
2- Educational Recourses; Multitier program to instruct and educate each step of the process toward a successful Main Street downtown.
3- Downtown Network; Networking with existing successful Main Street cities for help and advice.
4- Designated Main Street; Officially a Main Street city and can use the official trademark logo’s and sign package making it a Main Street Community.
There are many benefits that accrue as a city or town becomes a Main Street community. More jobs, more open businesses and more tourism. Most historic Main Street communities have become successful tourist towns. The historic quality of the old downtown areas coupled with the ambience it projects tend to attract restaurants, bars, boutique shopping, antiques stores, the arts, cultural events and museums, walking parks, gardens, coffee shops, craft beers, wineries and all the things visitors like to go to.