Wetumpka Selected as a 2016 Designated Main Street Community

Months of work by Wetumpka Downtown, a non-profit corporation forming to help revitalize Wetumpka’s historic downtown area, paid off today when the city was one of four communities in the state chosen by the Main Street Alabama selection committee to be a Designated Main Street community.

“This is one of the best things to happen to Wetumpka, and not just downtown. It’s going to be great for the whole community,” said Johnny Oates, owner of River Perk and one of the organization’s founders.

With assistance from the City of Wetumpka, the group began the five month competitive process by holding a public meeting in March to present the program and gauge community interest, which was strong. Two more meetings, door-to-door canvassing of downtown businesses, a targeted mailing campaign, and a Facebook page also helped spread the word. Wetumpka Downtown now boasts over $40,000 in pledged memberships.

“As a long-time downtown business owner, I couldn’t be more proud of my community,” said Jerry Willis, Mayor of Wetumpka. “This application wouldn’t have been possible without close coordination between the public and private sectors and the support of people who love Wetumpka.”

Main Street Alabama, also a non-profit organization, uses a national model with a 30-year track record of success known as the Four Point Approach®. This model focuses on organization, design, promotion, and economic vitality. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 239 net new businesses, 2,392 net new jobs, $187,262,002 in private investment, $32,555,955 in public improvements, and 26,652 volunteer hours overall since June of 2014.

According to Mary Helmer, President and State Coordinator for the program, Main Street Alabama will immediately begin providing Wetumpka Downtown with intensive board development, training with work plans and goals, market analysis with economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance, and quarterly training related to downtown development. “When a community is ready for Main Street, as these four are, our economic development program works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.”

The next step for the organization is to file the articles of incorporation, according to Lynn Weldon, Economic Development Director for the City of Wetumpka. “Although the City is an important sponsor of Wetumpka Downtown, this truly is an independent, community-wide effort. We will be scheduling a meeting for members in the upcoming weeks to elect a board of directors to oversee the program. For all those who are interested in supporting the revitalization of downtown Wetumpka with time or treasure, now is the time to get involved.” For those of you who have already pledged or sent a monetary commitment, thank you and will see you at a meeting soon.

Membership pledge forms may be obtained from the Wetumpka Downtown Facebook page or by emailing wetumpkadowntown@gmail.com.

Wetumpka joins Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Eufaula, Florence, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Monroeville, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Selma – and now Columbiana, Heflin, and Montevallo – in using Main Street’s comprehensive and incremental approach.

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