Vibrant downtown districts are part of the heart and soul of Tennessee. They draw people in, create a sense of community pride and promote volunteerism. And success begets success: once one or two businesses take off, more businesses—and more people—follow.

Kathy La Plante, National Main Street Center Senior Program Officer

Tennessee Main Streets are also driving big time economic development. In 2012, 24 certified Main Street communities generated $82 million of public/private investment, created 604 new jobs, 107 new businesses, and volunteers contributed over 117,250 hours of their time toward building rehab and public improvement projects. It’s no surprise then that nurturing and growing Tennessee downtowns comes with a lot of volunteer hours from a lot of committed people.

To provide guidance and encouragement, TNECD’s Rural Services Division held a workshop in Franklin on July 12th at Puckett’s Boat House. Amy New, TNECD’s Rural Development Program Manager, organized the “Tennessee Downtowns Revitalization Workshop”. Communities in attendance got an opportunity to learn about downtown organization and design and best practices for economic restructuring and promotion.

Attendees at Puckett's Boat House

Nancy Williams, Downtown Franklin Association Director, talked to the group about perseverance and the idea that the job of growing a downtown is never finished. Although Franklin’s downtown area is a hallmark of the Tennessee Downtowns program, Williams said they are always looking for ways to improve.

Attendees also heard from Ted Townsend, TNECD Assistant Commissioner of Strategy; Todd Morgan, Tennessee Main Street Director; and Kathy La Plante, National Main Street Center Senior Program Officer. La Plante emphasized the importance of volunteers and organization, no matter what the size of the project.

Ted Townsend, TNECD Asst. Commissioner of Strategy; Ramay Winchester, TNECD Retire Tennessee Director; Attendee

The feeling you get from a bustling downtown is unique and exciting. TNECD is committed to community-driven, common sense solutions to make our downtowns safe, appealing and vibrant places where folks want to shop, live and make memories.

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