Main Street Athens earns national accreditation

The Daily Post-Athenian

 
A pop-up conversation corner in Pocket Park on Jackson Street in downtown Athens.

A pop-up conversation corner in Pocket Park on Jackson Street in downtown Athens.

Main Street Athens has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting the performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs to recognize each program’s commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization.

“We are proud to acknowledge this year’s 840 nationally accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to strengthen their communities,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These programs deserve recognition for generating impressive economic returns, preserving community character and celebrating local history. Main Street America Accredited communities are part of a powerful movement of changemakers and their dedication to improving quality of life in the places they call home is inspiring.”

In 2018, Main Street America programs generated $4.93 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 5,310 net new businesses, generated 25,301 net new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 8,146 historic buildings, and tallied 2.2 million volunteer hours.

Main Street Athens’ performance is evaluated each year by Tennessee Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet 10 national performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public/private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

Main Street Athens helped to foster 13 new businesses opening within Athens’ downtown district in 2018, creating several new jobs for the community.

The Athens Thriving Communities Team introduced a new arts and culture initiative that was sponsored by the Lyndhurst Foundation of Chattanooga and was able to receive a $20,000 grant to support the development of a vacant lot within the Main Street district.

Athens Thriving Communities team: Kay Simmons, Lauren Shepherd, Lisa Dotson, and Whitney K. Coe.

Athens Thriving Communities team: Kay Simmons, Lauren Shepherd, Lisa Dotson, and Whitney K. Coe.

Other grant funds awarded were $6,000 from the Y-12 Community Investment Fund for the development of a historic walking tour and $1,300 for the placement of a mural within this same district.

Main Street Athens is also working on a joint venture with the City of Athens to fulfill a $100,000 facade improvement grant, which currently includes 12 commercial properties and has an expected completion date of December 2019.

Main Street Athens originated in 2016 and, one year later, on July 1, 2017, Downtown Athens suffered a fire that destroyed one building and caused three others to be completely remodeled.

2018 has been a comeback and catalytic year for Main Street Athens and the small projects have been epic to us because we know they are just the beginning of bigger ventures that lie ahead.
— Lisa Dotson, Main Street Athens Executive Director