Over 35 years ago, community leaders came around a table to focus their efforts on helping to revitalize older and historic commercial districts. Today, the National Main Street Center stands strong with a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the U.S., both rural and urban, who are united in their commitment to preservation-based economic development.
In the state of Ohio, 23 accredited Main Street communities and 28 downtown affiliates all look to Heritage Ohio as Main Street America's coordinating program for the state. Since 1998, Ohio Main Street Programs have leveraged over $1.44 billion in private investment and $1.47 million in public investment, creating 1,303 net new businesses with nearly 10,000 net new jobs in the local economies across Ohio.
The Main Street Approach to revitalizing local economies is proven by the volumes of success stories shared every year as well as the statistics directly connected to the power of local downtown organizations, like Marietta Main Street.
"Since 2016, over 25 businesses have opened downtown," said Cristie Thomas, Executive Director of Marietta Main Street. "Our focus on revitalizing downtown is, in many ways, an investment in the future of our community."
According to State of Main, an annual publication by Main Street America, over $70.25 billion has been reinvested in local communities across the U.S. since 1980, thanks to the Main Street Approach to economic development.
"So much of what we do is intangible. We foster pride of place, celebrate diverse history and culture, and cultivate leadership from within our own communities. While those things are vitally important, our work also directly advances local economic prosperity" (State of Main, 2017, p. 9)
The Main Street Approach to economic development is one of the most powerful economic development tools in the nation today. What sets it apart? A focus on historic preservation. Preservation strategies create jobs, increase property values, prevent suburban sprawl, conserve resources, attract investments, save public dollars, attract visitors, and generally increase the quality of life for entire communities.
In Marietta, it's easy to see the value of historic preservation. A full inventory of historic buildings downtown are footsteps away from blocks of historic residential homes. Museums, theatres, and more have been preserved and adapted for new, modern-day usage today. The value of our historic assets contributes to our tourism economy and the charm of our small town on the confluence of two rivers.
So, what would happen if we took all of that away? What would Marietta be like if our status as a Main Street Community was revoked, or, even more, how different would our community be if we never became a Main Street in the first place?
"Without a Main Street program, there would be no one charged with caring for the heart of our community. No one working diligently to protect the buildings which give it character, rallying volunteers to make sure its streets are vibrant and inviting, or advocating for policies to ensure that it continues to thrive for future generations. While there may be individuals and organizations that contribute to the success of downtown Marietta, no one carries its torch like Main Street," said Sarah Arnold, Board President for Marietta Main Street.
How Downtown Would Be Different
No More Flowers & Flags
Main Street coordinates the annual flag calendar for the monthly turnover of flags that fly on our downtown lamp posts. Main Street also coordinates the planting, installation, and maintenance of flower baskets throughout downtown. Between the two, over $14,000.00 is raised to support these efforts annually.
No More Unified Voice
We connect with downtown businesses and organizations to generate consensus around different topics. For example, did you know that 61% of downtown businesses are in favor of reducing the speed limit on Front Street? Or that 6% of our downtown uses Snapchat to promote their business? Or, how about the fact that 70% of downtown business owners believe they should incur fines for not maintaining the cleanliness and integrity of their facade? We bring downtown together to learn about the needs in our district.
No More Storytelling
Main Street actively promotes downtown via our social media accounts, our website, and our advertising strategies with local media like WMOA, WTAP, The Marietta Times, and Clutch MOV. We are the storytellers of downtown - our Tiny Shop Stories share the stories of our businesses and our blog is updated almost daily with downtown-focused content.
No More Events
Main Street coordinates and/or hosts events like First Fridays, Cash Mob Mondays, various bar crawls, the Merry-etta Christmas Parade and Holiday Loft Tours, our Rivers, Trails, & Ales Festival, Clean Sweep, and the downtown Farmers Market on Front Street. We partner with local businesses and organizations to host Riverboat Days (with the Marietta-Washington County CVB), the First Settlement Festival (with The Adelphia Music Hall), Small Business Saturday (with the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce), and more.
No More Murals
Our Public Art Committee has installed 4 murals since November 2016 and will install 4 more by summer 2018. The volunteers on this committee have also worked with a local artist to install a sculpture, the Love Lock Tree, at the Marietta Harbor and are actively working to develop an arts-focused walking guide for locals and tourists to use.
No More Financial Support for Facade Improvement
Main Street's Build Up Marietta facade improvement program invested $6k in 2017 towards four different downtown projects, leveraging about $27,000 in investment. This program aims to continue and grow, spawning even more investment into the well-designed maintenance and care of downtown's historic buildings.
No More Welcome Wagon
Members of the Main Street Board of Directors as well as staff are among the first faces new downtown business owners see, welcoming them to downtown and addressing any questions they might have. When boats dock on the river, Main Street is there to welcome tourists to downtown and when students enter a new class at Marietta College, Main Street is there to celebrate their decision to go to school in Marietta, Ohio.
No More Advocacy
Main Street actively builds relationships with City Administration and City Council. Not only is City Administration represented on our Board of Directors, but a City Council Liaison is assigned to Main Street every year to ensure lines of communication stay open in support of our mutual goals. Plus, by partnering with local economic development engines like the Southeast Ohio Port Authority and Buckeye Hills Regional Council, downtown remains a focus.
As a nonprofit organization, Marietta Main Street relies solely on contributions from our partners to maintain operations. Become a Main Street Partner today by clicking the button below and invest in the future of our beloved Marietta.
Our current Main Street Partners are THE reason we are able to do what we do, and we are abundantly grateful to each and every one of them! Join us in gratitude by viewing our list of partners by clicking the button below.