Staunton receives Virginia Main Street Milestone Awards
On Friday, March 22, Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA) and the city of Staunton were presented with Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards for the contribution of over 80,000 volunteer hours dedicated to downtown revitalization and for fostering more than 500 building improvement projects in the city’s historic commercial district.
The awards were presented at Richmond’s historic Hippodrome Theater. Accepting awards were Julie Markowitz, SDDA Executive Director and Greg A. Beam, SDDA Board President. “We were honored to be recognized by Virginia Main Street for the community’s investment in Downtown Staunton,” remarked Julie Markowitz.
At the ceremony that focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng spoke to the audience of more than 70 downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals about the visible results of their leadership. “Virginia main streets are thriving because of the collaboration between public and private sector, local and state governments and the citizens of each community getting involved to make their downtowns an attractive place to live, work and play,” said Cheng.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton pointed to downtown progress through the numbers. “In the last five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $252 million in private investment in their districts,” said Shelton. “As a result, last year, there was a net collective gain of 424 jobs across the 25 Main Street downtown districts.”
“Historic Main Street communities are much more than bricks and mortar. They serve as the heart and soul of our communities as they evoke the stories of our past while providing incomparable economic and cultural opportunities which sustain the quality of life for all citizens,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade and the founder of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. “Our national surveys have found that 84 percent of potential visitors are, first and foremost, attracted to the region because of our quaint small towns. The work of the Virginia Main Street Program is critically important to creating jobs and attracting these visitors to the commonwealth.”
The Staunton Downtown Development Association, the Staunton community, the City of Staunton and City Council has worked cooperatively since 1995 to develop a sustainable downtown economy and a culturally vibrant District that has a positive ripple effect throughout the city. Since the Staunton Main Street designation in 1995, 389 businesses have been created, generating 1,206 jobs.
A key ingredient to Staunton’s success has been the private-public partnership which inspires investment in Downtown infrastructure, streetscape and property development. Private investments to-date total $54,957,859, funding 509 rehabilitation projects. Public investment totals $40,698,175 with 58 cumulative projects. These improvements make Staunton a premier Main Street that draws visitors and newcomers to our walkable and beautiful community and invites new and exciting businesses to Downtown.
In addition to Staunton, Virginia Main Street recognized the following communities for excellence.
- · Abingdon
- · Berryville
- · Blackstone
- · Bristol
- · Culpeper
- · Harrisonburg
- · Lynchburg
- · Manassas
- · Marion
- · Orange
- · Radford
- · St. Paul
- · Waynesboro
- · Winchester
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.
The Staunton Downtown Development Association follows the Main Street 4-Points Approach with an emphasis on Design, Economic Development, Promotions and Organization. We invite new volunteers to join us at any or all of our monthly committee meetings to lend their insights and assist with steering the SDDA initiatives that strategically improve and support the Downtown Service District. Visit us online at www.stauntondowntown.org for a calendar listings and information or sign up for our weekly eNews. For more volunteer opportunities visit hOUREconomy.org.