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HAMILTON, TX - The Hamilton City Council and Economic Development Board of Directors held a joint meeting March 28, 2019 to discuss becoming a Designated Texas Main Street Community through the Texas Historical Commission in Austin, TX. The City Council approved moving the application forward and supporting the program.
The Main Street program is a nationally recognized and economically proven method for revitalization of historic downtowns across America. Communities of all sizes nationwide participate. Main Street is a trademarked program of the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Main Street program that was rolled out in the 1970’s to address the realities of the state of downtowns at that time continues today and is one of the most impactful economic development models for small, rural towns. In most states, the center has authorized an entity to carry out the approach and to manage the Main Street brand on its behalf. In Texas, that entity is the Texas Main Street Program, which is part of the Texas Historical Commission, the state agency for historic preservation. Since the approach and the brand are trademarked, a community may not operate or call itself a Main Street program or community, unless it has been designated as such through the Texas Historical Commission, and after applying for the designation through the formal application process.
There are many benefits to participating in the program. Texas Main Street is a provider of services to designated Main Street programs. A staff of nine includes professionals who provide technical assistance directly to local programs, and local property and business owners, in the areas of economic development; entrepreneurship; program management; leadership development; design /architecture and preservation; urban planning; and professional development/resources. If accepted into the program, the City will hire a full-time Main Street Director and pay an annual administrative fee to participate, which makes it possible for all services to be provided continuously and at no cost to business/property owners.
Long established commercial areas offer attractive, often historic environments. They represent the heart of a community, its character and identity defined in the buildings and along the sidewalks. Hamilton’s downtown is still vibrant; virtually all the buildings are occupied with local retail and office establishments. Few communities can boast of two pharmacies in their downtown. City and county government continue to conduct their primary business downtown as well. There are, however, improvements that would reinforce this vitality and ensure the preservation of downtown Hamilton’s function and unique character.
Over the years, Hamilton has taken several steps to bring increased life and investment to downtown, including façade, awning, and signage grants through the HEDC, downtown beatification projects, improvements to underground infrastructure, and the renovation of the Hamilton County Courthouse. If accepted in to the program, Hamilton will have access to grant opportunities and other resources only available to member-cities. “The Main Street Program would open the door to a number of resources at the Texas Historical Commission, including technical expertise, program capacity building, and organizational assistance, which would help the City as well as downtown business and property owners strengthen and revitalize downtown Hamilton in a strategic manner,” Sarah Bauman.
Becoming a Designated Texas Main Street Community involves a formal application process. Only five communities are accepted into the program each year. The City of Hamilton will apply in July 2019. The Texas Historical Commission will select communities in October 2019 based on the following:
“I’m excited that the City Council and HEDC Board are collaboratively taking a big step in the right direction. The Main Street program will open the door for many resources to help accomplish our goals for downtown revitalization,” Beverly Gilstrap, Council Woman and HEDC Board Member.
The program uses The Main Street Four Point Approach™. The Texas Main Street Program provides services to designated Main Street communities in these focus areas as part of a holistic Main Street revitalization process.
Economic Vitality: Preservation-based downtown revitalization is used to create localized economic development.
Design: the physical downtown planning tools
Promotion: Making downtown lively
Organization: People coming together for a common purpose and an organization focused on consistently driving toward that vision.
“This program provides a format and a guidance plan from people who have been there and done that. It gives a tool kit to your local team and the resources to move forward on common goals for economic development. It also gives you the keys to unlock grant money, and so you are driving two engines here that are important to everybody in this room. We are on the 281 corridor and what we are trying to do through this program is polish and make people pull over and spend money. We are already starting to see momentum, but this program is going to be the catalyst for becoming more and more successful, which drives revenue through the tax to help with infrastructure, so it’s an investment, and I completely support this.” Dr. Randy Lee, Vice President of the HEDC Board of Directors.
For more information, please contact Sarah Bauman at the Hamilton Economic Development Corporation.