Mainstreet Portsmouth touts success

Main street Portsmouth recently had its annual dinner where it welcomed nearly 250 guests to celebrate a year of successes and hear plans for continued growth in the coming year.

Executive Director Joseph Pratt claimed that the dinner was the best they’d had yet and he believed it was reflective of the work being done.

“2018 was a great year for us; we increased our event presence by about a third and doubled our design budget,” Pratt said. “We are all working overtime to better the downtown and I believe it is showing.”

Pratt explained that most of their increased work was due to furthered support from the City of Portsmouth, which increased its budget by $5,000.00, to assist in easing the need for further fundraising and allowing a greater focus on free community events. Also, the Scioto County Commissioners and Southern Ohio Port Authority, in which both groups joined forced to assist in the farmers market and overall mission of economic growth through events and placemaking.

The design budget was increased thanks to furthered support from the Paul Johnson Fund, Toyota Fund, Marting Foundation, Scioto Foundation, and the newly revived Tour of Lofts. Additionally, OSCO continues to make large donations to support the needs of the design committee and organization.

Outside of those entities, the group is further supported by Southern Ohio Medical Center and Glockner Family of Dealerships.

“We were able to accomplish a lot this year, starting with the benches and trash cans that were paid for by the Scioto Foundation, as well as the 40 trees we planted,” Pratt explained. “We also awarded, not only our typicaly $25,000 in building improvements, but an additional $25,000+, which came from our own funds, Toyota Foundation, Marting Foundation, and Glockner Foundation. We had a lot of different things going on at once this year.”

The additional work allowed the group to fix pavers on Market Square, with the help of Toyota Foundation; paint many buildings on Market Square, with their own funds and some in addition from the Glockner Foundation; and paint several buildings on Second, thanks to the Marting Foundation and Glockner Foundation.

The support from many donors allowed them to double their impact on placemaking and beautification this year and focus more on events.

Main Street also awarded its annual Ellen Vetter Memorial Service Award, not to one person, but to three. The recipients of the award this year included Bruce Distel, as well as Diane and Joel Baringer. The three are members of the Design Committee and have served Main Street for years, amounting to hundreds of hours. The three’s accomplishments have ranged from cleanups and maintenance of local parks, planting of beautification hotspots and baskets, and the installation of new downtown equipment, such as benches and trash cans. The three are also financial and in-kind donors of the organization, playing a role in ensuring longevity of the mission. One big topic of conversation was a project being overseen by Pratt and the Design Committee, which is the new courtyard park privately owned by the organization, 535 Second Street.

“We are excited to preserve the standing façade of this structure and plant a park within, where the building once stood. It has been an eyesore on Second Street for over a decade and we are finally planning to make it a place everyone can enjoy, with beautiful flowers and comfortable seating for plethora types of use.”

Pratt also discussed the program and event presence that has increased drastically.

“I could spend hours talking about our events and programming,” Pratt said at the dinner. “but instead I will focus on the new. We created the Portsmouth Today forum with the Chamber, as well as the new holiday shopping events dedicated to beneficially impacting the local economy around the busy holiday seasons. We also started a new event called the Wine and Dine, which brought hundred downtown to taste local food and see local retailers for drinks.”

Pratt said the group is planning many new events for 2019, including the Cut-Throat Karaoke event, as well as the Downtown Heritage Tour, amongst other smaller events.

“We have celebrated big wins this past year and have bigger plans moving forward,” Pratt explained. “We hope the community continues to enjoy the fruits of our labor as we work hard to make downtown a place we are all proud to live, work, and play in.”