On Friday, March 16, the Downtown Franklin Association was presented with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award for the investment of more than 45,000 Volunteer Hours since 1997. The awards were presented at Richmond’s historic Jefferson Hotel.
Attending from Franklin were Dan Howe, Main Street Manager; Kathy Worrell, Office Manager of Manry Rawls Insurance and DFA executive board secretary; Nancy Parrish, DFA Organization Committee Chair/Board Member and Franklin Business Incubator Manager; Pam Ellis, business owner of Pam’s Tea Room and DFA executive board president; and Beverly Myers, business owner of City Paint & Supply and DFA executive board treasurer.
At the ceremony, focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng spoke to the audience of downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals about the visible results of their leadership. “The Virginia Main Street program not only contributes to the economic revitalization of its designated and affiliated communities, but the program has also contributed to the historic preservation of the architecture, spirit and uniqueness of Virginia’s downtowns,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng. “The work that you do every day to promote, reinvigorate and revitalize downtown through not only façade and physical enhancements, but through event planning, marketing, promotions and more, is making real progress for Virginia.”
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton to downtown progress through the numbers. "In the last five years, Designated Main Street Communities have sparked more than $236 million in private investment in their districts,” said Shelton. “As a result, last year there was a net collective gain of 826 jobs across the 25 Main Street downtown districts.”
“The rapidly-shifting economy has intensified the pressure on small businesses everywhere, particularly on Main Street,” said National Trust Main Street Center Director Doug Loescher. "For communities interested in capitalizing on their unique local enterprises, the ‘buy local’ campaigns are a great start, but just part of the equation. To our community economic development strategies of ‘shop locally,’ ‘live locally’ and ‘eat locally,’ it is now time that we add ‘invest locally’ as well. Main Street is the perfect place to make that happen.”
Dan Howe, DFA Main Street Manager, stated that the work begun so many years ago by people who cared deeply about Franklin, such as Nanci Drake and Donna McCullough, is continuing through the collaborative energy of today’s board of directors.
Board President Pam Ellis stated that “..the Downtown Franklin Association strives to support our existing businesses and bring in new as well as offer events downtown to draw in visitors and shoppers.”
Currently there are 25 designated Virginia Main Street communities: Abingdon, Altavista, Bedford, Berryville, Blackstone, Bristol, Culpeper, Farmville, Franklin, Harrisonburg, Hopewell, Luray, Lynchburg, Manassas, Marion, Martinsville, Orange, Radford, Rocky Mount, Saint Paul, South Boston, Staunton, Warrenton, Waynesboro, and Winchester.
The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, provides assistance and training to help communities increase the economic vitality of their downtown commercial districts. Virginia Main Street uses the National Main Street model to help communities revitalize their downtowns by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes. The program helps communities implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy that creates economic growth and pride in downtowns.
For more information about the Virginia Main Street program, call (804) 371-7030 or visit: www.dhcd.virginia.gov/MainStreet.
To view more pictures of the event, please click here.