2018 – Striving towards a Healthy Community on all levels
A Main Street should be healthy on all levels. Businesses should have support and be poised for growth. Property owners should know there is an open door for discussion on real estate and rents. The past should not only be celebrated but explored. And the people…the people should feel a connection with downtown and maybe even start their health journey there.
A healthy business environment: The Gloucester Village year began with positioning their current business owners and new entrepreneurs for success by introducing a partnership with Retail Alliance and offering a 42- week class for a certificate in Retail Operations. This is the next phase of Launch Gloucester – education on a deeper level. The Trust offered scholarships and grant awards to those completing the class. Main Street had one new entrepreneur (Gloucester Brewing Company – opened in November 2018), a second location business (Northern Neck Popcorn Bag – opened in September, 2018) and one expansion ( Sweet Tooth Café & Bakery ) and awarded $25,700 in awards at a celebration dinner in December 2018.
A healthy respect for our story: Historic Preservation is at the core of telling any Main Street’s story. Gloucester is no exception. Into year two of their oral history study of Main Street, the focus was on the African American owned properties and they are taking a deeper look than previous studies.
Truly arguably the most iconic building in the downtown, the former Sun Trust Bank building, a bank for over 100 years, was vacated in October 2017. The Main Street Trust worked behind the scenes and partnered with the Gloucester Revolving Loan Fund with an anonymous donor and the loan fund purchased the bank so it could be studied and ultimately guided into its next life. This was a huge win for Main Street.
A healthy look: Beautification continues and maintenance of the first phase of the Corridor Enhancement program began with an additional 8,000 daffodil bulbs being planted. This phase won Best Downtown Improvement Project for Virginia Main Street and Phase 2 planning is underway.
Eight structures were improved in the downtown for 2018 utilizing the Façade & Interior Grant Program and Main Street awarded $78,650 in grants and leveraged $193,284 in additional investment by these grantees.
Healthy Organizations: The Main Street Association hired its new Director, Jennifer Dutton Haggerty, who promptly increased the Association’s presence on Main Street by making it a priority to connect with business owners. She has grown the social media presence of the Main Street Association and more sharing between businesses and the organization has occurred. This has resulted in a growth of market reach.
Healthy Community: Annual events are always a draw for Main Street and the Main Street Association held several throughout the year delighting attendees with great music, food, wine, shopping, dining and more.
New for 2018, Main Street launched its Downtown Fit program which garnered attention regionally in the Health Journal. The free community fitness based outdoor program leveraged nearly 10 partnerships and offered 68 classes from yoga to bootcamp. Year two planning is in the mix with creating a more structured calendar and making some of the fitness classes into events with visits to local businesses after the classes.
As Main Street sets goals for next year, it will be continuing the healthy approach to Main Street – linking not only the organization and its businesses but its people who use the Main Street – creating that sense of place and pride we all have come to love about downtown.
We are excited about all the upcoming opportunities that we have in store for 2019—if you have any ideas, thoughts, or comments for Gloucester Main Street’s upcoming 2019, please email Director@GloucesterVillage.com