Atmore wins jackpot with Main Street Alabama designation

Atmore wins jackpot with Main Street Alabama designation
Main Street Atmore. (Chris Pruitt, Wikipedia)

Many travelers along Interstate 65 in southwest Alabama recognize Atmore as home of the Wind Creek Casino, but travel just five more miles to find the pride of the community – the historic downtown district.

On June 6, Main Street Alabama announced that Atmore had been selected as a new Main Street Alabama Designated Community.

Using the National Main Street Four Point Approach, Main Street Alabama helps communities focus on organization, design, promotion and economic vitality with strategies unique to that community that are centered on market-based outcomes.

“Setting achievable goals using community input and market data is critical to the revitalization of the district, but it’s also equally crucial to bring stakeholders to the table to work towards a common goal,” said Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama state coordinator.

“Main Street works 100% of the time if the community is willing to work,” Helmer said. “Atmore impressed upon the selection committee that they had the work ethic to become a successful Main Street program that will bring jobs, dollars and people back to the district.”

The dedication of the continued revitalization of the district made the case for designation and was demonstrated during the five-month long application process, through partnerships with community organizations, the city’s commitment and proven track record of many projects, including the ongoing renovation of the Strand Theatre.

Atmore’s historic notable figures and events include being the birthplace of boxer Evander Holyfield; the site of Railroad Bill’s death, an infamous train robber who was killed following a shootout with the law in 1896; and the home to Luverne Wise Albert, who in 1939 became the first female football kicker to score in an American football game. In addition to the Strand Theatre, the former Atmore Hardware Store serves as a focal point of the district.

Atmore was originally named Williams Station, in 1866, after William Larkin Williams, a logging entrepreneur who set up shop along the spur of the Mobile and Great Northern Railroad. The town was renamed in 1897 in honor of C.P. Atmore, the general railroad ticket agent.

“These facts, along with the capacity to maintain a Main Street program, scored major points with us,” said Main Street Alabama’s social media announcement. “This bustling railroad town is ready for renewal and Main Street Alabama is ready to provide a game plan for success.”

Main Street Alabama will begin work immediately in Atmore to provide board development, goal setting, work planning, market study with economic development strategies, targeted design assistance, and training related to downtown development.

Downtown Atmore. (Courtesy of Main Street Alabama)

Atmore joins Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Calera, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Florence, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Headland, Heflin, the Historic Fourth Avenue Business District in Birmingham, Marion, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, South Huntsville and Wetumpka in using Main Street’s comprehensive and incremental approach.  Each designated community listed above reports its success by tracking reinvestment statistics.  Main Street Alabama’s designated communities have reported 976 net new businesses, 5,040 net new jobs, $419,950,397 in private investment, $51,592,047 in public improvements and 105,789 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June 2014.

Main Street Alabama application workshops are held in January each year.  Communities interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to join the Main Street Alabama Network. More information can be found at www.mainstreetalabama.org.

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