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Main Street McMinnville executive director position still vacant
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Glenda and Patrick Collins, accompanied by their long-haired Chihuahua named Tia, prepare to enjoy lunch by the Court Square fountain Tuesday afternoon. The two grabbed a carry-out order from Collins River BBQ. “We love eating there whenever we can,” said Glenda.

The position of Main Street McMinnville executive director has once again been in the news as the organization works to get past issues with former director Teresa Prober, who resigned in October.

The executive director position remains vacant and the Main Street McMinnville board first wants to hold a visioning session with TVA to establish new goals for the organization, which is now more than 20 years old.

“When we first started, it was all about revitalizing downtown and now that mission has changed,” said Main Street McMinnville charter board member Cliff Davidson. “Downtown has been revitalized and we’ve really accomplished a lot. The next step is to figure out where we go from here, what we need to do next.”

Davidson said no date has been set for the visioning session but he expects to coordinate a time with TVA in the coming months. After Main Street McMinnville maps out new priorities, work will begin on hiring a new executive director who is suited to achieve those goals.

The position of Main Street director has been described as being similar to that of a mall manager. Just like a mall manager conducts promotions and works to help businesses inside their mall, the Main Street McMinnville director has been tasked with doing the same thing to help downtown businesses.

“Hopefully, the Main Street director has the personality to visit with business owners to see their needs and invite them to participate in Main Street events,” said Amy-Jo Stanford, a current Main Street board member and former director. “The idea is to promote downtown and coordinate events where businesses can work together for the benefit of all.”

McMinnville’s Main Street program began in 1999 and Dan Gray was the first director. Stanford took over in 2002 when Gray decided to return to England.

One main goal of the executive director is helping downtown businesses apply for grants that are available through the Upper Cumberland Development District and through the federal government. This can include grants for façade upgrades or awnings

Main Street McMinnville as a 501(c)3 organization is eligible for the grants, which it then distributes to local businesses who apply and meet the criteria.

“There are a lot of balls you have to juggle and it’s a tough job,” said Stanford. “But it’s a needed job because there’s still a lot we can do to improve downtown.”