Historic Lebanon has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. 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®.
“It is a great honor to recognize this year’s 828 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs for their outstanding work to transform downtown and neighborhood commercial districts,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Main Streets are the heart of our communities, and the work they do to create quality public spaces, catalyze local entrepreneurship, and support downtown housing is more important than ever. Across the county, Main Street America programs truly strengthen the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their entire communities.”
The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by the Tennessee Main Street program which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten 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.
Lebanon’s Main Street area which is centered on the historic Public Square saw $1,567,500 in local investments for 2016. This includes both public and private projects such as historic building rehabs, maintenance, and infrastructure improvements.
One figure Historic Lebanon Executive Director, Kim Parks is especially proud of is the eight hundred and ninety-two volunteer hours tallied in the past year for Historic Lebanon. “We would not be able to provide our annual programing and the leadership towards using historic preservation for positive economic impact without our Board members, volunteers, friends of Historic Lebanon and our annual sponsors which are Ligon and Bobo Funeral Home, Main Street Property Management, THW Insurance, Law Office of C. Tracey Parks, Wilson Bank & Trust, Thackston Family Foundation and CedarStone Bank.”, explained Parks.
Historic Lebanon is a non-profit whose mission is the revitalization of Lebanon’s Public Square and surrounding neighborhoods. Their focus is to preserve the historic buildings, increase tourism, entice more entrepreneurs and to create a sense of place in the historic downtown core. The organization helps owners use the historic properties in new ways to create a vibrant area with restaurants, retail/office spaces and urban living. Another goal of the Historic Lebanon Main Street program is a more walkable downtown with public green spaces, a direct connection to the Music City Star commuter train station with a walking trail and the installation of public art. Historic Lebanon believes these improvements will create a gathering place for locals as well as increase tourism to the historic downtown.
“Main Street accreditation is vital to the city’s continued economic growth and sustainability and it’s always exciting to see Historic Lebanon continue to move forward as they are preserving our past”, remarked Sarah Haston, City of Lebanon Economic Development Director.
Educating the public on Lebanon’s rich history is another part of the non-profit’s mission. The organization has produced a Historic Driving Tour booklet and written two books on local history. Historic Lebanon is also in charge of the local Tennessee Main Street program. A real advantage of Main Street communities is the program’s strength in achieving economic vitality. Studies show for every one dollar invested in a historic downtown, there is a thirty-six dollar return. This return on investment (ROI) is achieved by using the four points of the Main Street program, Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Vitality to present the Lebanon Square is its best light. These four elements come together to create positive economic progress for the community.
In the past six months Historic Lebanon has received two major grants from the TN Main Street program. First, is the Façade Improvement Grant for historic properties on the Public Square and second is the TN Main Street Entrepreneur Grant to create an entrepreneur center with partners Cumberland University and the City of Lebanon.
“Simply put; Historic Lebanon strives to enhance Lebanon’s quality of life and to increase its profile as a great small town”, stated Parks.
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 $71.35 billion in new public and private investment, generated 583,869 net new jobs and 131,974 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 267,800 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.