The Arcadian in coming issues presents the mission of local clubs, nonprofits and others that offer assistance, friendship or some service. The problem is that some of them aren’t clearly defined. This week’s profile is of the Arcadia Main Street Program. Details of the downtown nonprofit are provided by Pam Ames, the group’s executive director.

About Arcadia Main StreetAmes: “From the 1880s to 1980s, downtown Arcadia meant the center of commerce and activity. From shopping for clothes at Eaton’s Department Store, Schlossberg’s or Miss Gertrude’s, to sitting at the counter at Koch’s Drug Store for a cheeseburger and a cherry vanilla coke, downtown had everything you needed.

“As with anything, change comes about, and commerce began to develop out U.S. Highway 70 east. In the mid-’80s, downtown Arcadia had numerous vacant storefronts and deteriorating buildings. Arcadia was not the only community in the state of Florida facing these issues.

“In 1986, Arcadia became one of the first Florida Main Street communities. Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program with the goal of revitalizing historic downtowns and encouraging economic development within the context of historic preservation. Florida Main Street is administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State. The program is affiliated with the National Main Street Center and utilizes the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach, which offers a framework for community-based revitalization initiatives.

“This Four-Point Approach is actually four committees: Economic Development, Design, Promotions and Membership. The Economic Development Committee is responsible for working to build a strong diverse economic base for downtown. The Design Committee’s goal is to create an inviting, inclusive atmosphere that people want to come to and experience. The Membership/Organization Committee builds strong community engagement, and the Promotions Committee markets the districts assets. Arcadia Main Street is governed by a board of directors that meets every other month, with committee meetings in between.

“In 2018, the Main Street board voted on a strategic plan laying out the goals and objectives until the year 2020. All projects and spending plans are approved by the board of directors. One of those goals of the Design Committee was to refurbish the city’s benches in the downtown area. With the help of DeSoto Correctional Institution and the DeSoto County school board, all benches have been painted or varnished and the wood replaced, all paid for by the Main Street Program, in an effort to make downtown a pleasing atmosphere.

“A goal of the Promotions Committee is to promote the downtown to locals and visitors through events like Arcadia Bike Fest. This twice-a-year event has brought thousands of visitors to our community and many have returned to shop, dine and enjoy our downtown. Bike Fest will continue to be the Program’s main fundraiser, with two events planned yearly.

“The Arcadia Main Street Program recently became an accredited Florida and National Main Street Program. With this state and national certification, Arcadia Main Street is one of only 42 other programs with this distinction. The Arcadia Main Street Program strives to build and maintain community partnerships within the community.”

Arcadia Main Street Program goalsCreate jobs—A revitalized district attracts new industry and strengthens service and retail job markets.

Save tax dollars—Revitalization stabilizes and improves the area’s tax base, while also protecting existing investments.

Preserve the community’s historic resources—In an economically healthy downtown, property owners can afford to maintain their historic buildings and preserve an important part of the community’s heritage.

Build community pride—Main Street provides a public space for members from all areas of the community to come together, create new partnerships, and celebrate their downtown. www.arcadiamainstreet.com.

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