A long-respected organization that has become the face and voice of downtown Cleveland — because of its business-friendly mindset wrapped around a community-first directive — has once again been tagged among the nation's best.
From its summer festivals to its autumn-welcoming Halloween Block Party and all the way to the year-ending holiday celebrations that observe the merriment and traditions of Christmas, MainStreet Cleveland — and its slew of volunteers — has continued to keep downtown life in the spotlight, and given local residents a place to go for something that's just a little different.
For its continuing efforts, as well as the continuing work of an unpaid board of directors and business supporters, Mainstreet Cleveland has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program.
Within the ranks of Main Street, that's a big deal.
Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach™, according to Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center.
"We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities," Frey stated in a prepared media statement.
Of the MainStreet Cleveland recognition, as well as those of identical and similar organizations across the United States, Frey pointed to the importance of these types of movers and shakers in the preservation of downtown districts and their influence on their surrounding communities.
“These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities," Frey said. "During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”
In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new were jobs created, and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.
MainStreet Cleveland is a prime example of the type of work being done by the national organization. Locally, MainStreet Cleveland works closely with governments in the city of Cleveland and Bradley County. In Cleveland's ongoing quest for a major facelift and revitalization of its downtown district, MainStreet Cleveland has continued to play a major role in offering insight, vision and strategy.
Consultations with Cleveland municipal leaders like City Manager Joe Fivas and Mayor Kevin Brooks, as well as Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, are a common practice with MainStreet Cleveland leaders and volunteers.
Mainstreet Cleveland’s performance is annually evaluated by the Tennessee Main Street program which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet ten rigorous performance standards, Frey explained. She pointed out evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.
Sharon Marr, executive director of MainStreet Cleveland, pointed to the importance of the local organization's affiliation with the national movement.
"[We are very] proud to be accredited by the National and Tennessee Main Street program," Marr said. "The board of directors and staff work diligently to maintain these standards of performance."
Marr added, "Thanks to the dedication and generosity of its membership, sponsors, and government leaders, Mainstreet Cleveland continues to lead revitalization projects that will serve generations to come. It provides quality community events that bring more than 64,000 people downtown each year."
Mainstreet Cleveland is comprised of businesses, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and individuals dedicated to revitalization and promotion of downtown.
"[Our] mission is to build on downtown’s inherent assets, rich architecture, personal service and traditional values, and most of all, a sense of place," Marr added. "MainStreet Cleveland encourages entrepreneurship, downtown cooperation and civic concern while preserving rich history. We strive to leave future generations with a thriving, progressive downtown that still tells the story of Cleveland’s past."
Mainstreet Cleveland has been an accredited Main Street community since 1990. For more information on downtown businesses, events and redevelopment visit www.mainstreetcleveland.com
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.
Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $85.43 billion in new public and private investment, generated 672,333 net new jobs and 150,079 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 295,348 buildings.
Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.