Special to The Eatonton Messenger
May 10, 2018

Eatonton Main Street-Downtown Eatonton has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting rigorous perfor­mance standards set by the National Main Street Center.

The Eatonton Main Street-Downtown Eaton­ton’s performance is annually evaluated by Georgia Main Street, which works in partnership with the national center to identify the local programs that meet 10 national performance standards. 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.

According to Eaton­ton-Main Street Downtown Eatonton Director Andrew Simpson, Lake Country Physical Therapy, The Artisans Village Guild Art Gallery, The Frisk Pub, Southern Unique and the Sumter Street Station apartments all opened their doors for the first time in Downtown Eatonton in 2017. Eatonton Main Street-Downtown Eatonton introduced the inaugural Fire and Ice Festival. The Briar Patch Arts Festival had seen an expansion in the number of vendors, with the Christmas in the Briar Patch parade providing a rise in entrants, he said.

“On behalf of Eatonton Main Street we greatly appreciate the involvement of the community in taking part in our downtown fes­tivals and events,” Simpson said. “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that contributed to the vibrancy of our Christmas decora­tions in the Downtown. The feedback we received was fantastic and we are truly grateful to everyone that showed their pride and community spirit.

“We are greatly honored that all our new business owners have chosen Downtown Eatonton to open their first location here. To provide a sense of place for residents and visitors alike can only enhance what Downtown Eatonton already has and provide the vibrant downtown and economic vitality that is the key for our future success.”

Simpson also noted the expansion in events at the Eatonton Cotton Ware­house and investment in the downtown with new businesses and revitaliza­tion of buildings through the Façade Grant program has seen increased foot traffic in the downtown; and the Sumter Street Station apartments have provided an opportunity for downtown living at an affordable price.

“The importance of accreditation at the state level recognizes our orga­nization’s achievements in partnership with the city of Eatonton,” he explained.

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in rec­ognition of their exemplary commitment to preserva­tion-based economic devel­opment and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.

Eatonton Main Street is one of 829 nationally accredited Main Street America programs com­mitted to preserving economic development and revitalizing the downtown’s commercial district, while preserving community character and celebrating local history, according to a statement from National Main Street Center Presi­dent and CEO Patrice Frey in a media release.

In 2017 alone, Main Street America programs gener­ated $4.48 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 6,211 net new businesses, generated 30,294 net new jobs, catalyzed the reha­bilitation of 8,737 historic buildings and clocked 2.7 million volunteer hours.