Innovation on Historic Main Streets

The National Main Street Center awarded three Main Street organizations for successful, sustainable initiatives that represent new approaches to an existing downtown revitalization challenge or opportunity.

The National Main Street Center leads Main Street America, a national network of historic downtowns and historic districts. The award, “Innovation on Main Street” is granted annually to an affiliate, accredited, or coordinating member of the National Main Street Center.

A recent press release from The National Main Street Center describes this year’s honorees:

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.

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