Russellville celebrates Main Street designation
In celebration of Russellville receiving Main Street designation June 1, a kickoff event was held in downtown Russellville near the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce June 22. Activities included speakers, a ribbon cutting and a reception in the newly renovated 109 North Jackson Ave. building near the Chamber.
Speakers included Ann Epperson McDermitt, director of the Downtown Russellville Collective (which is now authorized to go by Russellville Main Street); Rep. Jamie Kiel; Franklin County Commissioner Chris Wallace; Russellville City Councilman/Mayor Pro Tem Gary Cummings; and Mary Helmer Wirth, president and state coordinator of Main Street Alabama.
According to Main Street Alabama’s website, mainstreetalabama.org, the group is a nonprofit organization that “stresses public-private partnerships, broad community engagement and strategies that create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors and spur growth,” as well as “builds on the authentic history, culture and attributes of specific places to bring sustainable change.”
The website states the group’s focus as “bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic communities,” adding that “economic development is at the heart of this statewide organization’s efforts to revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods across the state.”
Targeted areas stated on the site include placemaking, defined as “activating public spaces”; training, defined as “continuing education” and networking, defined as “making connections.”
The site further says that Main Street programs “are more than having great events and making downtown look better,” adding that the core of the programs is “an economic development tool that enhances the tax base of a community, fosters entrepreneurship, builds community capacity and creates partnerships among key groups in a community.”
“Being designated as a Main Street Alabama city signifies a commitment to revitalizing the local economy,” explained Ann Epperson McDermitt, executive director of the Downtown Russellville Collective, (Russellville Main Street) efforts.
“Main Street Alabama’s programs focus on supporting small businesses, attracting new investments and creating job opportunities, all of which can contribute to the economic growth of Russellville,” she added.
Other nearby communities that have Main Street Alabama designation include Florence, Decatur, Athens, South Huntsville, Birmingham and Birmingham’s Historic 4th Ave. Business District.
The rest of the current Main Street Alabama communities are Alexander City, Anniston, Atmore, Calera, Centreville (approved the same day as Russellville), Columbiana, Demopolis, Elba, Eufala, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Heflin, Jasper, LaFayette, Leeds, Marion, Monroeville, Montevallo, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, Talladega and Wetumpka. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.