Franklin receives Main Street Achievement Award

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LYNCHBURG—The Downtown Franklin Association and the City of Franklin were presented with Virginia Main Street Milestone Special Achievement Award in recognition of completing 25 years as a Virginia Main Street community.

The award was presented at a ceremony and dinner marking the 25th anniversary of the program at Lynchburg’s Craddock Terry Hotel.

Attending from Franklin were Dan Howe, Franklin Main Street manager; Anne Williams, marketing director for Southampton Memorial Hospital and DFA Economic Restructuring chair; Kathy Worrell, office manager of Manry-Rawls Insurance and DFA executive board secretary; Victor Story, owner of Vic’s Signs and DFA board president; Pam Ellis, owner of Pam’s Tea Room and DFA executive board vice president; and Beverly Myers, owner of City Paint & Supply and DFA executive board treasurer.

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton addressed the Main Street volunteers, local leaders, businesses, local governments and private investors in attendance.

“The work being done in Main Street communities requires a collaborative effort across the private, public and nonprofit sectors,” he said. “Bringing them together in a shared vision of a vibrant downtown requires leadership. Over the past 25 years that leadership fostered a new climate in Virginia downtowns, helping to create more than 14,000 jobs.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Chuck D’Aprix, founder of the D.C.-based Downtown Entrepreneurship Project. He challenged the group to make downtowns the center of opportunity by providing support and resources to potential and emerging business owners.

“We should continue working to attract entrepreneurs, not just businesses,” said D’Aprix.

Speaking on the importance of this award, Howe said: “It speaks volumes about our community as a whole and our downtown area in particular, that we have been able to sustain our Virginia Main Street designation over the years.”

Story said the work begun so many years ago by people who cared deeply about Franklin, such as Nancy Drake and Donna McCullough, is continuing through the collaborative energy of today’s board of directors.

“We strive to support our existing businesses and bring in new as well as offer events downtown to draw in visitors and shoppers,” he said.

There are 21 designated Virginia Main Street communities: Abingdon, Altavista, Bedford, Blackstone, Berryville, Culpeper, Franklin, Harrisonburg, Luray, Lynchburg, Manassas, Marion, Martinsville, Orange, Radford, Rocky Mount, South Boston, Staunton, Warrenton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, provides assistance and training to help communities increase the economic vitality of their downtown commercial districts. Virginia Main Street uses the National Main Street model to help communities revitalize their downtowns by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes.

The program helps communities implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy that creates economic growth and pride in downtowns.