Downtown Athens' Future is Bright with Organized Efforts

Encouraging economic development, redevelopment and improvement of the historic downtown area is Spirit of Athens’ mission.

A mission that, along with the guidance of Main Street, will become a reality. Main Street, a part of the National Trust of Historic Preservation, works by implementing an incremental, comprehensive strategy focusing on Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring.

Main Street teaches us that all four points need to be working to have successful results. It’s a balancing act to keep all energy from focusing on just one area.

Design focuses on decorations, lighting, offering design assistance, and keeping the overall look or image of Athens in the forefront. Organization involves keeping the program sustainable. Promotion deals with making downtown a tourist destination, while economic restructuring helps to retain existing businesses and recruiting new businesses.

Main Street has successfully guided nearly 2000 communities nationwide in their revitalization efforts.

Spirit of Athens was formed in 2006 without the guidance of a state Main Street program. During the past year, SOA has been working with the Alabama Historic Commission to meet the qualifications of becoming a certified program when Alabama Main Street launches in January 2010. Qualifications include an extensive inventory of the downtown area, city/county support, active board of directors, working committees, and a strategic work plan.

This will be a great opportunity to tell Athens’ story along with the other 13 communities being considered for participation in Alabama Main Street. Communities not already involved in the process will not be considered into the program until the end of 2010.

There have been organized efforts in the past, but without community support, revitalization won’t happen. Now the momentum is changing, and the community sees the importance of having a vibrant retail mix, safe walkable streets, preserving historic characteristics, and promoting downtown Athens as a destination.

To become a member of Spirit of Athens, call 256-278-6436 or email tblack@athensal.us. For more information, please visit the website at www.spiritofathens.com.


Amanda said...

Go downtown!! Woo woo!

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