On Friday, March 22, at Richmond’s historic Hippodrome Theater, the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association and the Town of Marion were presented with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Award for special achievement in their downtown revitalization efforts. The award recognized the business creation successes resulting from the “Pop-Up Marion” program. In addition, Executive Director Ken Heath was presented with a scholarship to attend the upcoming National Main Street Conference in New Orleans.
At the ceremony that focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng spoke to the audience of more than 70 downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals about the visible results of their leadership. “Virginia main streets are thriving because of the collaboration between public and private sector, local and state governments and the citizens of each community getting involved to make their downtowns an attractive place to live, work and play,” said Cheng. Last year, for every dollar invested in Marion’s downtown program, over $23 was leveraged, making it one of the most productive in the state.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Bill Shelton pointed to downtown progress through the numbers. “In the last five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $252 million in private investment in their districts,” said Shelton. “As a result, last year, there was a net collective gain of 424 jobs across the 25 Main Street downtown districts.”
"Historic Main Street communities are much more than bricks and mortar. They serve as the heart and soul of our communities as they evoke the stories of our past while providing incomparable economic and cultural opportunities which sustain the quality of life for all citizens,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade and the founder of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. "Our national surveys have found that 84 percent of potential visitors are, first and foremost, attracted to the region because of our quaint small towns. The work of the Virginia Main Street Program is critically important to creating jobs and attracting these visitors to the commonwealth."