Smithville Among Communities Selected for Tennessee Downtowns Revitalization Program

December 8, 2010
Suzanne Williams

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber today announced the 12 communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts.

The selected communities are: McKenzie, Henderson, Athens, Linden, Red Boiling Springs, Smithville, Centerville, Brownsville, Lewisburg, Mountain City, Rockwood and Pikeville.

“The Tennessee Downtowns program is the first step toward reviving a community’s central business district in a comprehensive, sustainable way,” said ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber. “We applaud each of the selected communities for reaching this milestone and look forward to partnering with them in future endeavors.”

Tennessee Downtowns is a tiered program affiliated with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Tennessee Main Street Program. Communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns will form a volunteer committee of local citizens who will participate in a multi-month training curriculum supported by the National Main Street Center. The curriculum is designed to teach citizens about comprehensive, sustainable downtown revitalization and historic preservation. The training includes attendance at a two-day downtown revitalization workshop and a grant to complete individualized downtown development projects.

The 12 selected communities are each home to downtown commercial districts established at least 50 years ago and have demonstrated their readiness to organize efforts for downtown revitalization based on the successful “Main Street Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalization.” The highly competitive selection process was based on five core criteria: historic resources, need (economic and physical), demonstrated local effort, overall presentation and probability of success.

“Tennessee Downtowns will be a vital resource and a basis of support for downtown revitalization efforts for the participating communities,” said Rick Meredith, assistant commissioner for Community Development at ECD. “I am confident that each community will see a strong return on their investment of time and resources, and we look forward to being a part of that investment.”

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber, made application for the Tennessee Downtown Program on behalf of the city of Smithville and was very encouraged and excited upon hearing the news about Smithville being one of the 12 chosen cities. “Smithville’s Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Secretary/Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, City of Smithville Aldermen, and the Downtown Merchants Association along with our new TN Downtowns Program steering committee members are committed to working hard and doing what it takes to help revitalize our public square. Our aim is to partner together to help create a renewed sense of pride and excitement about our downtown. We want to develop an attainable but challenging plan, create a business environment conducive to entrepreneurship, stir up interest and enthusiasm, and promote volunteerism so people will have a real vested interest and a sense of pride in the project. We want to see the all the vacant buildings downtown filled with thriving businesses again,” says Williams.

Main Street revitalization is a comprehensive, incremental, self-help economic strategy that also focuses on developing public-private partnerships to enhance community livability and job creation, while maintaining the historic character of the district. For information about the Main Street Program and the Main Street Four Point Approach, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/about-main-street/.

Tennessee’s Main Street program provides communities with technical assistance and guidance in developing long-term strategies that promote economic growth and development. The program provides information and assistance in forging public networking and training opportunities for downtown commercial districts.

For more information about Tennessee Downtowns, visit www.tennesseemainstreet.org.

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to create higher skilled, better paying jobs for all Tennesseans. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go to www.tn.gov/ecd or www.investtennessee.org.

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