MARIETTA - Marietta the latest community in Ohio to join the Main Street neighborhood revitalization program, officials said.
It's great news for Marietta, said Dave Schramm, president of the ReStore Marietta board that has been pursuing Main Street status for the Pioneer City for nearly a decade now.
"They don't let just anybody into the program. It's at least a four- to five-year process to become designated as a Main Street community, and the timeline we've been working on this goes back to 2005 or 2006," he said.
Schramm said one key element that has helped move the city forward toward the Main Street designation was the consolidation of downtown merchant groups, including the former Marietta Area Merchants Association and Friends of Front Street, into ReStore Marietta.
"A lot of people have worked very hard over many years to make this Main Street certification happen," he said. "And Main Street and Heritage Ohio have a proven structure to really revitalize a community. It's the best tool we have to make that happen here."
Marietta now joins 23 other Ohio communities in the Main Street program. Main Street communities receive training and technical support through the program that is focused on restoration and economic revitalization of central business districts.
The program helps with volunteer and program management training, marketing and promotion, business recruitment, market analysis, design, historic preservation, and fundraising, according to the Heritage Ohio announcement.
"Main Street certification gives the Marietta community a special credibility, not only in this state, but also nationwide," said Jean G. Farmer, director of ReStore Marietta.
She noted the designation will also allow ReStore Marietta to change its name to Main Street Marietta, adding that a ceremony officially marking that change will take place at 10:30 a.m. July 27 in the Gateway pocket park next to the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Hall on Front Street.
"It's a name change, but this is also a chance for us to network and learn from other Main Street communities statewide," Farmer said.
Mayor Joe Matthews, also a member of the ReStore Marietta board, was glad to see the Main Street designation finally come about.
"It's really nice to have this city involved in that program," he said. "And being a Main Street community will help draw more people and business into the Marietta area. It's something we should really crow about."
The Main Street announcement comes about a month after an eight-member selection committee from Heritage Ohio visited Marietta for a community review that's part of the Main Street qualification process.
"Marietta has demonstrated a local commitment to establishing a volunteer board of directors as well as the procurement of stable funding for a sustained revitalization program," Joyce Barrett, director of Heritage Ohio, said during the Main Street announcement.
Heritage Ohio will also make regular on-site visits to help ensure that Marietta continues to develop its Main Street program for success.
Current Ohio Main Street Programs include Cambridge, Gateway Neighborhood and Warehouse District (Cleveland), Defiance, Delaware, Greenville, Kent, Lakewood, Lebanon, Medina, Millersburg, Mount Vernon, Norwalk, Oberlin, Orrville, Painesville, Piqua, Portsmouth, Sandusky, Troy, Van Wert, Vermillion, and Wooster.