Aberdeen is officially a Main Street Community.
The Aberdeen Revitalization Movement has been working with state officials to get the recognition and be part of a nationwide program that attempts to help struggling downtown areas recover.
According to ARM’s director Wil Russoul, Aberdeen was the only Washington city approved to become a Main Street Community this year. ARM board member Bobbi McCracken said she was surprised it took them only eight months to be recognized, as Russoul noted it usually takes three years.
“It was really an honor and a surprise,” said McCracken at this week’s Aberdeen City Council meeting. “We were told by many people, including our mentor, not to expect to be designated this year because it’s too soon.”
ARM is a non-profit group that aims to fix-up downtown Aberdeen and generate more business and traffic in the city’s core.
Becoming a Main Street Community doesn’t mean Aberdeen gets new direct flows of income from the state, but it gives Russoul and his group better access to resources and a wide network of other main street programs in Washington for advice.
It also comes with some federal tax advantages for people who make investments in their downtown property.
For example, Russoul can now attend quarterly meetings with the directors from other Main Street programs in cities like Bellingham, Olympia and Port Townsend, and see what they’re doing successfully.
Although Russoul was able to talk with some of the directors for other Main Street programs before getting recognized by the state’s Main Street program, he said getting approved provides them much better access now.
There are also grants that ARM can apply for to help with local projects because they are now one of the state’s recognized Main Street programs, Russoul said.
The resources and community provided by the Main Street program are intended to help with a long-term plan to revitalize Aberdeen’s downtown area, and Russoul said it usually takes 10 to 12 years to see results. There are more than 30 Washington cities, and over 2,000 nationwide that have a recognized main street program similar to Aberdeen’s.