BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - On Wendsday, Main Street Alabama selected LaFayette along with Demopolis,, Leeds and Talladega as continues to expand its statewide reach for communities for Designation.
Main Street and will begin receiving technical services this month. “Applying for Main Street Alabama designation takes time, dedication, and commitment from several people in a community, explained Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama President and State Coordinator. "The process begins with attending a new city application workshop in January and then deciding to move forward with a letter of intent to apply that shows both public and private support for the effort as well as need and capacity."
CCDA's Chris Busby, along with Vision LaFayette Chairman Jimmy Stewart, and LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines addressed local media following Wendsday's big announcement.
"I am thrilled that LaFayette is now a designated Main Street Community. This entire process has been a dream effort and could not have been accomplished without twhe help of the manydedicated citizens of LaFayette. Our group spent countless hours and used their various talents to achieve this designation. The response from the community and buisnesses has been overwhelming and I cannot express how much I appreciate all those that contributed to this achievement.", said Aashley Emfinger, Project Manager for the Chambers County Development Authority.
" I know that LaFayette becoming a designated Main Street Community will be a major boost in aiding continued growth in the downtown area and allow it to reach it's full potential, and we're excited to get started," added Emfinger.
"The application itself is meant to have a community take a good look at themselves from vacancies, absentee property owners, historic properties, and the current economy in the downtown or neighborhood commercial district," Wirth continued. "It generally takes about two to three months to complete the application with a group of people working in concert. Applicants also make in person presentation to the selection committee, this is their opportunity to go beyond the written portion and show the heart and soul of their community, and why they feel it is time for them to have a designated Main Street program. It is a wonderful process of self-discovery.”
LaFayette's, (pop. 2,684) goals during the designation process include an improved appearance of historic buildings and streetscapes, diversification of the retail mix, increased activity in the district after normal business hours, and more community participation in the overall improvement of the city. In their application, Leeds (pop. 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 so that we can bring in jobs, increase foot traffic, and capitalize on the community involvement that already exists. 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 maintaining the small-town charm."
Main Street Alabama will begin work immediately in LaFayette to provide board development, goal setting, work planning, market study with economic development strategies, targeted design assistance, and training related to district development. Main Street Alabama is a private non-profit and state coordinating program of Main Street America.
The National Main Street Four Point Approach™ is an over 40-year model that focuses work in four areas: organization, design, promotion, and economic vitality with strategies unique to the community and based on market-based outcome. “Setting achievable goals using community input and market data is critical to the revitalization of the district, but it’s also equally crucial to bring stakeholders to the table to work towards a common goal,” said Wirth.
Demopolis, LaFayette, Leeds, and Talladega joins Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Atmore, 4th Avenue Business District - Birmingham, Calera, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Florence, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Headland, Heflin, Marion, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, South Huntsville, Wetumpka, Woodlawn district - Birmingham, in using Main Street's comprehensive and incremental approach. Each Designated community listed above reports their success by tracking their reinvestment statistics. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 909 net new businesses, 2,984 net new jobs, $688,329,640 in private investment, $96,331,635 in public improvements, and 139,177 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June of 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.
More information can be found at www.mainstreetalabama.org.