We applaud the local association of central merchants, and the group’s vast membership, for once again meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Trust MainStreet Center. It is this respected organization that recently confirmed MainStreet Cleveland’s national accreditation for another year.
What exactly is the merit of such an accreditation?
Inclusion on the prestigious national list means a MainStreet program has shown resiliency and unflappable commitment to building a strong revitalization mindset for the present and future. Additionally, accredited programs are demonstrating a keen ability to use the MainStreet Four-Point Approach methodology for strengthening their local economy and protecting historic buildings.
In other words, downtown Cleveland remains an integral player in supporting the Bradley County economy through its diverse array of businesses — existing and new — that operate successfully within the city’s central district.
Of particular importance is the downtown district’s dedication to preserving, and protecting, its heritage through historic buildings and other structures that define the course of the community and the direction of its people.
Evaluation criteria identify communities that are designing, and implementing, comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts that use a variety of established standards such as: Developing a mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking economic progress and preserving historic buildings.
MainStreet Cleveland members can proudly attest that their downtown organization is deeply involved in each of these with a keen eye toward preserving traditions of the past through a proactive outreach in the present and future.
For an example, observers need look only as far as First Street Square, the most recent addition to downtown in which planners recycled an aging, abandoned property that formerly housed a dry-cleaning operation and converted it into a user-friendly park. The space has been quick to attract events such as mid-day concerts in the spring, the annual Maifest celebrations in May and other relevant festivities. First Street Square is a prime example of the MainStreet Four-Point Approach because it came about by a joint partnership between MainStreet Cleveland and city government.
Its relevance is evidenced further by the number of businesses now found in close proximity. Five that opened in 2011 include Catch Bar & Grill, Hyderhangout Quilt Fabric & More, Ever After Bridal and Formal Wear, The Red Ribbon and Cleveland Billiards Club, the latter of which came to downtown Cleveland having been inspired by its Chattanooga roots.
These five join existing businesses and operations like Trail Head Bicycle Company, Wheeler Electronics, Static Hair Salon, Cleveland Creative Arts Guild and the Museum Center at Five Points.
We agree with an assessment by Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust MainStreet Center, who told our newspaper in a media statement, “Accredited MainStreet programs are meeting the challenges of the recession head on and are successfully using a focused, comprehensive revitalization strategy to keep their communities vibrant and sustainable.”
MainStreet Cleveland has earned its national accreditation every year since 1991. It is currently one of only 24 such community accreditations in Tennessee.
We congratulate this excellent organization for its many successes.
We believe more will come now and in years to come.