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franklin county times
(From left) Councilman Jamie Harris, Matt Cooper, Mitch McKinney, Julie McKinney, Tanya Maloney, Mayor David Grissom, Chase Sparks, Kim Perdue, Heather Willis, Sherry Warhurst Smith and Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley attend the Downtown Redevelopment Committee Meeting at the Historic Roxy Threatre Monday.

Russellville downtown to pursue Main Street designation

The Downtown Redevelopment Committee met at the Historic Roxy Theatre Monday at 6:30 p.m. Tanya Maloney, a field service specialist for Main Street Alabama, spoke about the benefits of a Main Street designation for a small town, sharing what’s involved not only to acquire that recognition but also to maintain the necessary standards and fully take advantage of the assistance it can provide.

“We encourage entrepreneurship and promote economic development along with strategies for fostering a welcoming and safe downtown,” said Maloney. “We celebrate the historic character of an area.”

Julie and Mitch McKinney are taking the lead in Russellville’s Downtown Redevelopment Committee goal for 2022 of working to try to acquire a Main Street Alabama designation.

Main Street Alabama focuses on bringing jobs and people back to Alabama’s historic communities. The McKinneys said it’s about creating value for everyone and making downtown even more welcoming, safe and enjoyable for the community.

“It’s wonderful to see members of the community coming together to share ideas and work on plans to keep improving,” said Rep. Jamie Kiel. “We want our downtown to have even more options of places to eat, shop and socialize.”

Maloney spoke of working on four core areas – economic vitality, design, organization and promotion. She also pointed out the need for fundraising, as well as finding ways to create interest and set a welcoming tone, such as by adding public art downtown.

Training and fees are part of being a designated Main Street community, as well hiring a local director to administer the Main Street program.

Other areas Main Street Alabama helps with include design issues, marketing analysis and branding.

“We want to keep working to make downtown even more special,” said Mayor David Grissom. “We just received notification from the governor of being approved for $699,838 worth of sidewalk grants for Montgomery Street, East Limestone and North Jackson.”

“I’d like to thank everyone who is purchasing buildings and starting businesses,” added Grissom. “Downtown is the heart of every community, and we’ve been working with Main Street for many years and have used a lot of their approaches.

“Applying to be a designated Main Street community would be a step to help us get to the next level. We appreciate all the community support here tonight and look forward to moving downtown forward.”

“We really have a vision,” said Mitch McKinney, “and I think Main Street Alabama is a program that will get us there. Our historic downtown district includes so many things already we can be proud of and even more that will be coming.”

To learn more about Main Street Alabama, visit mainstreetalabama.org. For more information about the Downtown Redevelopment Committee, email downtownrussellville@gmail.com or visit the group’s Facebook page.

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