Main Street Program gets underway with base assessment

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By David Meade

Williamston’s new Main Street South Carolina Program will officially kick off with a baseline assessment that will be held over a two day period next week.

The Baseline Assessment will be held Monday and Tuesday Dec. 9 and 10 during which representatives of the National Main Street Center and Main Street South Carolina will meet with city officials and local leaders and committee members to begin sharing perspectives and vision for Williamston’s downtown and the Main Street program.

All area business and property owners and anyone in the community interested in providing input or finding out about the program are invited to a community visioning session which will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m.on Dec. 9 in the Municipal Center.

Caroline Alex, Main Street Executive Director for the Town of Williamston said, “This baseline assessment is key to establishing a successful Main Street program in Williamston. This is a chance for us all—town officials, community members, and business owners—to come together and capitalize on an opportunity to ensure a bright and prosperous future for the Town of Williamston.”

“We are having an open public session for the community to come express their visions for the revitalization of downtown Williamston and also help us identify the strengths and opportunities of downtown Williamston,” Alex said. “This will also be a time to learn and understand more about the success and inner-workings of the Main Street program from the national and state level perspectives.”

The Baseline Assessment Team will include Main Street SC Director Beppie LeGrand and National Trust Main St, Center Senior Program Officers Kathy LaPlante and Morma Miess. The Baseline Assessment team will begin the visioning process and work with local leaders to define a mission statement.

The baseline assessment will include looking at the strengths and opportunities of the downtown area; identifying specific needs and obstacles; provide assistance in organizing a strong leadership base; define priorities and programming goals for a work plan for the year ahead; outline services that meet local needs and a timeline for Main St., SC technical assistance; provide visibility for the Main Street Program; and promote the importance of Main Street Four Point Approach.

On Monday, participants plan to tour the community and downtown district from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

They will meet with city officials from 3:45 to 5 p.m. to allow them to share their overall vision for downtown and discuss programs, plans and initiatives currently in place or planned to support the revitalization efforts.

A community visions session will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

All members of the community who are involved or would like to offer input are invited to share their perspective on revitalization efforts.

On day two, officials plan to meet with downtown merchants and business and property owners beginning at 8 a.m. Business owners will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on the local business environment.

The Williamston Main St. Advisory Board will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss where they see the community in the future and to identify strengths and challenges and how to build on existing efforts.

Other community groups and organizations will meet with the assessment team from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.. Planning, zoning, historical society, arts and culture, festival organizers and others are invited.

The community visioning session will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 9 and will be held in the Town Council Chambers.