By Jamie Carpenter
Hendersonville – The historic downtown section of Hendersonville recently received Accredited status from Main Street America. Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization with a proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach. Main Street America is a program of the National Main Street Center says the organization’s webpage. They “…revitalize older and historic commercial districts to build vibrant neighborhoods and thriving economies.”
“We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally-Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”
In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new were jobs created, and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.
Downtown Hendersonville’s performance is evaluated by the North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center at the NC Department of Commerce, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet ten rigorous performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings. In 2019 and into 2020, the Downtown Hendersonville program completed several key projects for downtown. The Grey Hosiery Mill rehabilitation project brought 35 new apartment units into the downtown area. In partnership with the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, the program completed the construction of public restrooms downtown and the renovation of new program offices. The 7th Avenue Depot District will soon begin a streetscape project that will improve the pedestrian experience in the district while continuing the momentum of success from the first year of the Hendersonville Farmers Market on Maple Street in 2020.
The program has also continued to see reinvestment from the private sector flow into the districts. Our local contributions to the national impact reported above were over $3.5 million dollars in private sector investment between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. These investments helped open 16 new businesses and created a net gain of nearly 50 new part and full-time jobs. We also saw the expansion of three existing businesses and were fortunate to be the beneficiaries of nearly 2,000 hours of volunteer time.
While the effects of Covid-19 have impacted the economy locally, the Downtown Hendersonville program has played a critical role in the marketing and promotion of the LoveHendo and SafeHendo efforts, keeping downtown local businesses at the forefront to help mitigate negative economic impacts. While businesses continue to recover, the program is responding to the ever-changing needs of businesses and their customers.
“The best practices that have allowed our organization to achieve accreditation have given us the tools to maintain an effective economic development program,” said Lew Holloway, Downtown Economic Development Director, “We are proud of our ability to respond and adapt to the sudden changes to our economy this year and feel confident in our downtown’s ability to thrive.”