Main Street Portsmouth (MSP) has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.
Out of the 100 standards that Main Street Portsmouth strives to meet, 92 were accomplished in 2015.
Each year, the National Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street approach.
“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” said Patrice Frey, president & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”
The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Heritage Ohio, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet 10 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, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.
Main Street Portsmouth operates on four points: economic vitality, design, promotion and organization. With a mission statement like, “Building Community by Revitalizing Downtown,” they dedicate their work to the small business owners, the preservation of history in downtown Portsmouth, and the future downtown will play in making Portsmouth a place people want to live, work and play.
Executive Director Joseph Pratt is in his first year with Main Street and says he loves being a part of downtown.
“I took this job in December to do my part at bettering my home. I now realize that it is much more than a job,” Pratt explained. “Main Street is a mission, guided by a board of brilliant community leaders and business professionals; partnered with great organizations, such as the Southern Ohio Port Authority, the Scioto Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Bureau; funded by people who want to see progress; and held together by the sheer determination of many volunteers. The Main Street mission is one many can get behind and I am proud to be its servant.”
To date, the City of Portsmouth has partnered with Main Street Portsmouth to the cost of $150,000 in Building Improvement Grant funding. Heritage Ohio has also partnered with Main Street Portsmouth to the sound of $25,000. The program has awarded property owners of 42 improvement projects and has sparked over $750,000 of redevelopment in historic downtown Portsmouth. It has also provided guidance and tools for local property owners to establish a design and seek all the steps in accomplishing their plan.
“The Building Improvement Grant continues to be one of our cornerstones of work and our most proud achievement,” Pratt said. “Not only does it help local businesses, contractors and property owners, but it preserves the rich history of our downtown. Even those who do not receive a grant are left with a definite plan of action that they can then follow. This program is a win-win for all involved.”
The group has logged thousands of volunteer hours, which are spent helping small businesses and making the downtown area more beautiful through Sue Burke’s design and leadership. They also spend thousands on contracts with local professionals and the majority of their budget at local business.
As of 2016, the organization has 37 annual projects and a plethora of special events throughout the year. It also partners with over a dozen local non-profits and continues to grow on that number. It’s most involved partner continues to be the city of Portsmouth, which involves Main Street in downtown decisions and is the largest financial supporter of the organization’s work.
Other major supporters of the work include Southern Ohio Medical Center and OSCO, alongside Hunter Williams Insurance, Century 21, the Scioto County Commissioners and Copies Galore.
“We shop locally, contract locally and invest locally” Pratt said. “I believe most of our sponsors, donors and members continue to support our work because they are proud of being a part of the mission we serve and know that our work and funding goes completely back into our community.”
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.
Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $65.6 billion in new public and private investment, generated 556,960 net new jobs and 126,476 net new businesses and rehabilitated more than 260,000 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932 or Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara