October 2021
Mary's Minute
#ALTogetherAgain - Main Street Alabama LAB

We were thrilled to be in beautiful downtown Gadsden for our recent annual LAB in August. After canceling the conference in 2020 due to the pandemic, we wanted very much to see each other again – safely. We had masks on hand and sanitizer everywhere. It was wonderful seeing people fist bump in greeting and enjoying sharing stories. 

Topics and speakers were abundant and well-received and ranged from Strategic Planning 101, Entrepreneur Support, Public Art, ADECA 101, Development in an Urban Environment, Advocacy How To’s, Working with DOT, Wayfinding, and Merchandising just to name a few. 

Highlighting the first day was the Keynote Address from Mary Means – the Founder of the Main Street Movement! It was inspiring to listen to her talk about the early days and her hopes for the future. Her relaxed and welcoming presentation style was wonderful and inspiring! We closed out the first day with an outstanding presentation from Jay Schlinsog, of Downtown Professionals Network on exploring some of the possibilities, and how some changes could become part of our district’s fabric and the way we do business in a post-COVID-19 era. He has written an article for us in this newsletter, very interesting insights. We closed out the first day of the conference with a wonderful social at Back Forty Brewery hosted by Downtown Gadsden, Inc. – very fun!

COVID - What's Next?
by Jay Schlinsog, Downtown Professionals Network

If we dwelled on the chaos, confusion, hurts, losses, and all the other twists and turns we’ve each experienced in the COVID-19 era, now measured at more than 600 days, it could be viewed as perhaps the most distressing periods many of us have spent on this earth. But Main Street has shown us something else – something that, even in the darkest depths of the abyss that is COVID, is fueling new ways of thinking, acting, and achieving. It is the power of Main Street on full display.

The Main Street Alabama 2021 LAB in Gadsden brought the power of Main Street to the forefront. It highlighted some of the ways Main Street and community partners are working together like never before to help support businesses, it showcased small business owners who are defying the odds, and it shined the spotlight on the burgeoning entrepreneur movement that is bringing new faces, talent, ideas, and energy to our districts. continue reading...
The Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA) is the wholesale power provider for 11 public power utilities in Alabama, including Alexander City, Dothan, Fairhope, Foley, LaFayette, Lanett, Luverne, Opelika, Piedmont, Sylacauga, and Tuskegee, which serve approximately 350,000 customers. (Click to watch AMEA video)

AMEA’s success can be attributed to the strength of its membership and the strength of unified action. There is strength in numbers, and the success of its 11 public power utility members is proof.
As a publicly-owned, not-for-profit provider, AMEA is directly accountable to those they serve, while its collective strength gives them greater buying power. This results in stabilized costs, competitive rates, and substantial savings for these communities. continue reading...
Foley Main Street Spreads Their Wings and Celebrates 3rd Anniversary

Foley Main Street recently celebrated its third anniversary as a designated Main Street Alabama community. Leading up to this milestone, the program launched its first fundraising campaign that raised $21,100 (cash and in-kind) from within the district and $28,850 in sponsorships(cash and in-kind) from outside the district. Additionally, 35 businesses became “I’m A Downtown Foley Business” members. This summer, the city hosted a marketplace and a movie four times and Art in the Park was hosted by the Art Center. And fittingly, a second mural featuring butterfly wings was completed along with a butterfly garden. In July, it was announced that Foley Main Street was awarded a $20,000 grant from AARP Livable Communities to go towards a pocket park that will fund the outdoor musical instruments. Leading the charge in Foley is Darrelyn Dunmore, Foley Main Street Executive Director, along with many volunteers and stakeholders. Darrelyn has served on the Main Street Alabama Board as the Director Liasion and is finishing up her term at the end of the year. The Main Street Alabama staff and Board appreciates her service to the board. Click here to read about updates in other communities.
Be on the Lookout – More Small Box Shops Arriving in Main Street Districts Soon
Main Street Alabama’s successful Small Box Shop initiative in Heflin and Wetumpka were highlighted in our last newsletter – guess what?? Two more are in the works! Working through USDA, Main Street Alabama has received the go-ahead to fund two additional Small Box Shops – one in Marion and the other in Monroeville, both located in South Alabama.

The mission of Main Street Alabama is to utilize the proven Main Street Four-Point Approach® which provides a framework for the local Main Street program to organize for success, improve the design of and promote the historic district, and enhance the economic base of the local district. Continue reading...
Training Workshop October 20 in Wetumpka

Registration is now open for "Promotions in 2021 and Beyond" on October 20 in Wetumpka. It's time for Main Streeters to think about building their organizations during this year and beyond. What can be learned from the pandemic? And how are promotions being redefined in the age of Covid-19? Bridgette Kelch, our presenter, will share her breadth of knowledge of promotions and how to diversify to build a stronger organization for whatever the future brings.

Deadline to Secure Shop Small Support Local Tag is Quickly Approaching
With $50 and a few clicks, your pre-commitment to the Shop Local Support Small Business cartag will help fund small business grants. If you support small businesses, this tag shows you make it a priority! Time is running out to make this tag a reality! To learn more and to pre-commit, follow the link below.

Mark Your Calendars for LAB 22

LAB 22 will be held in downtown Opelika, August 17 - 19. Check out their promotional video to see what you can expect to see and experience while you're there.

Want to see the award-winning projects, activities, and partnerships from across the state? If so, check out the list of this year's Main Street Alabama Awards of Excellence winners.
As a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program, Main Street Alabama helps to lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of over 40 Coordinating Programs and over 1,200 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.
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Main Street Alabama
880 Montclair Road, Suite 245
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