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Main Street program headed in right direction
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The state of Main Street McMinnville address was given during the organization’s annual meeting Tuesday. The condition is said to be excellent.
Main Street McMinnville is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization and development of downtown McMinnville. Its vision of historic downtown McMinnville is to create a safe, culturally rich and architecturally preserved area which is vibrant and eye-appealing, family and community oriented, and commercially viable.
Offering the address was Main Street McMinnville Board chairman Randy Garrison, who spoke about the achieving the mission.
“A national Main Street organization should be funded one-third from government, one-third from memberships, and one-third from fundraising,” said Main Street McMinnville board chairman Randy Garrison. “We feel we are fulfilling these goals.”
Garrison said events such as Main Street Live, Trick or Treat on Main, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Bluegrass Downtown are working to bring people downtown.
Guest speaker for the event was Todd Morgan, the community development program director with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He serves as the state coordinator for Tennessee Main Street, the state’s flagship downtown assistance program.
Main Street programs preserve history and improve future economic growth, says Morgan.
“Preservation is important for its educational aspect, cultural aspect, esthetics and for its social qualities, but it’s also important for economic development,” he said. “If you have ever been to Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., they have really created a lot of economy around their historic resources. They have been doing this for a long time.”
Savannah’s preservation movement started in the 1950s by a group of concerned citizens, consisting of seven women, when downtown buildings were being demolished to create parking lots. The group raised the funds to save one house, a founding act that led to the historic preservation organization in Savannah — the Historic Savannah Foundation.
In 2011, Savannah attracted more than 12 million visitors with over half staying overnight. Visitors spent an excess of $1.9 billion with 38 percent for lodging, 26 percent for food and beverage, 17 percent for retail, 10 percent for recreation, and the remaining 9 percent for transportation.
Morgan says McMinnville is on the right track.
“Here in McMinnville, you have done a lot to take care of your historical assets,” Morgan said. “That’s what makes your community stand out. When I drove in here, I drove across a bridge with really nice street lights and you could see the church steeples and trees.”
He adds the money spent to revitalize downtown will speak volumes to visitors.
“If you have a healthy downtown, you send a strong message that you have a healthy economy and you have faith invested in the community and its businesses,” said Morgan.
Historic districts set rules and regulations as to what the owners of property within the district can do to their properties. Morgan says a lot of people fear that because they misunderstand it.
“A lot of people fear historic districts, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” he said. “The truth is it sets a standard down and keeps everyone on the same page. You won’t have someone doing something crazy with their property that negatively affects the value of your property. It’s actually a very good thing.”