Urbana among 5 selected by Heritage Ohio


Submitted story

COLUMBUS – Heritage Ohio, the statewide coordinating agency under Main Street America, is pleased to share that five historic Ohio communities have been chosen through a competitive process to participate in the Downtown Assessment Resource Team (DART) program, the first step in becoming an Ohio Main Street community.

The communities that will go through the DART process are Canton, Girard, Niles, Urbana and Waverly. A DART is a two-day, deep dive workshop in a community, when Heritage Ohio staff conducts site visits, community visioning and input modeling, walking tours, and interviews with key community stakeholders to determine if there is capacity and local support for a full Main Street program.

The Main Street approach, created in the late 1980s as a model for downtown revitalization, preservation, and economic development, is a nationally respected framework that is followed by over 2,000 communities that value their history and local economy. In Ohio, 52 historic communities are currently part of the Main Street program.

“Heritage Ohio firmly believes in the Main Street approach and its ability to help communities grow and transform their downtown,” shared Matt Wiederhold, Heritage Ohio executive director. “Main Street programs are economic development engines that drive investment in underutilized commercial and mixed-use properties, and boost tourism. All of those initiatives generate important tax revenue for villages and cities. We’ve administered the Ohio Main Street Program since 1998, and we’re thrilled to work with these five great communities.”

Communities benefit from the Ohio Main Street Program and Main Street America by receiving ongoing technical assistance and training for staff and volunteers such as preservation planning, strategic planning and board development, special event and fundraising planning, small business support, and more. OMSP communities also have the opportunity to participate in the Heritage Ohio Annual Conference, the national Main Street conference, special funding opportunities, ongoing support from Heritage Ohio staff, and much more.

Sara Neer of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce shared that some of their goals for Urbana would be “a unified strategic plan, getting all groups on the same page and working towards the same goals, and organizational structure.”

“Downtown Canton believes our prime location, arts, cultural, and historic assets set us up for success. We believe that being a part of the Main Street Program would continue to prove that the City of Canton is committed to honoring the historic preservation and beautification of Downtown Canton and prioritizing the revitalization of our downtown commercial area,” stated Todd Herberghs with the Downtown Canton Partnership.

City of Girard Mayor Mark Zuppo shared, “The biggest concern for Girard that we believe the Main Street Program could assist us with is addressing our vacant properties which are not being taken care of. Our main focus downtown currently is the Wellman Theater. Our city is lacking on drawing new businesses in to bring consumers and grow their franchise. Establishing economic development throughout our downtown is crucial.”

“Reactivating and having places downtown to draw existing and potential residents to shop, play and socialize are some of our goals. We believe the Main Street program can help the City of Niles, create synched branding, messaging, and marketing materials for Main Street/Niles Downtown area,” wrote Bianca Rozenblad, City of Niles.

“The downtown revitalization plan will provide a catalyst for growth in the rest of our community, and by extension, in Pike County as a whole and surrounding communities. Tourism, in particular, will benefit as Waverly and other communities throughout Southern Ohio provide more and more amenities to encourage travelers to come to the region and stay awhile,” offered Shelly Anderson with the Village of Waverly.

The first round of DART visits will take place in late summer 2024. Heritage Ohio will hold a second call for applications from interested communities in mid-October.

To learn more about Main Street America, please visit https://mainstreet.org/.

Submitted by Heritage Ohio

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