National Revitalization Organization Recognizes Select Historic Main Streets as Centers of Innovation
Initiatives by Laramie Main Street in Wyoming, REV Birmingham in Alabama and Alabama Main Street Win Innovation Awards
The National Main Street Center announced today the winners of its annual “Innovation on Main Street” awards. This award recognizes Main Street organizations for successful, sustainable initiatives that represent new approaches to an existing downtown revitalization challenge or opportunity. This year’s recipients were recognized at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“We are particularly proud of the Innovation on Main Street awardees as they provide clear evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in historic commercial districts,” says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We commend these programs for going outside of the tried and true to find new revitalization solutions that can benefit the entire Main Street movement.”
Laramie Main Street Alliance was honored for its “Mural Project” which has resulted in the creation of ten large-scale murals and four smaller ones that have brought new energy into downtown and the local arts scene over the last six years. Born out of a desire to bring more public art to the buildings, open lots, and alleys of Laramie, the program has given residents, business owners, and artists a new way to collaborate to beautify, invigorate and celebrate downtown Laramie. In 2015 the program evolved to include a ‘paint by numbers’ mural, drawing over 150 children, parents, grandparents, and visitors to participate over ten days. The mural project has spurred a self-guided audio tour, a curriculum guide for elementary students and renewed community pride.
Main Street Alabama was selected as an award winner for its “Shark Tank”-like event at the state’s 2015 revitalization conference. The session gave directors of local Main Street programs the opportunity to present their sponsorship requests to a panel of potential sponsors while an audience observed. Main Street directors pitched their events to win cash, in-kind support and products in a fast-paced interview setting. The session succeeded by not only matching worthy projects to new sources of support, but also gave greater visibility to sponsors and Main Street programs while exposing the audience to a dialogue that is typically done behind closed doors.
REV Birmingham in Alabama was recognized for its “REVIVE East Lake” initiative, which brings together local entrepreneurs, artists, and property owners to activate vacant spaces and sidewalks to showcase the untapped potential in the East Lake historic commercial district. This program, which has been rolled out in several other Birmingham neighborhoods in recent years, leveraged new investment in East Lake, including building façade improvements, tree planting and other streetscape improvements, and an artist village with a month of installations, workshops, and performances that brought new life to a long-vacant movie theater, prompting the owner to move forward with the theater’s redevelopment.
The award is open to any affiliate, accredited or coordinating program member of the National Main Street Center.
For conference updates, follow @MainStreetsConf on Twitter. More information on the program is online at: http://www.mainstreet.org/
About the National Main Street Center
Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered a transformative, grassroots strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. Today, the Center leads a coast to coast network of revitalization programs – known collectively as Main Street America – who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.