Franklin receives Virginia Main Street Milestone awards

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Richmond—The Downtown Franklin Association and the City of Franklin recently received two Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement awards.

Attending the Virginia Main Street Milestone Awards Luncheon were, from left, Downtown Franklin Association Board members Pam Ellis and Juanita Richards; Virginia Main Street Program Manager Jeff Sadler; DFA board members Victor Story, Kathy Worrell and Nancy Parrish; DFA Executive Director Dan Howe; and Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton. — SUBMITTED

The first was for investing more than 40,000 volunteer hours since 1997. The second award was for completing more than 250 building rehabilitations since being designated a Main Street Community in 1985. The awards were presented at Richmond’s historic Jefferson Hotel.

Attending from Franklin were Dan Howe, Franklin Main Street Manager; Anne Williams, marketing director of Southampton Memorial Hospital and DFA Board Member; Kathy Worrell, office manager of Manry-Rawls Insurance and DFA Executive Board Secretary; Victor Story, business owner of Vic’s Signs and DFA Executive Board President; Pam Ellis, owner of Pam’s Tea Room and DFA Executive Board Vice-President; Nancy Parrish, small business/incubator manager of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. and DFA Board Member; and Juanita Richards, owner of Richwood Graphics and DFA Board Member.

“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our community,” Howe said. “Their tireless efforts make it possible for the Downtown Franklin Association to do the many events throughout the year that bring visitors from other areas to our downtown. I am grateful for a committed board who sees the importance of our downtown.”

At the ceremony, which focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Development Mary Rae Carter spoke about downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals about the visible results of their leadership.

“You are creating places where people want to be,” Carter said. “And you’ve often been at the forefront of community and economic development, from your early promotion of farmers’ markets to advocating for walkable, liveable downtowns.”

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton pointed to downtown progress through the numbers.

“In the past five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $275 million in private investment in their districts,” Shelton said. “As a result, last year there was a net collective gain of 663 jobs across the 21 Main Street downtown districts.”

The keynote speaker was preservationist Jean Carroon, who emphasized the impacts of the group’s work in the sustainability of their communities.

“People often forget that before we recycle, we can reduce consumption and reuse existing products,” Carroon said. “A building is one of the largest handmade objects we have. Reusing a building has an environmental impact far greater than recycling an aluminum can.”

Other Virginia Main Street communities are in 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.