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Main Street SC manager to speak to city

Posted: March 21, 2014 2:39 p.m.
Updated: March 24, 2014 5:00 a.m.

 

Beppie LeGrand, manager of Main Street SC, will speak before Camden City Council during its Tuesday afternoon work session. Council members will also receive a copy of a Main Street SC application for the city to complete should it choose to reenter the program. Camden participated in the Main Street program -- a service of the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) and accredited by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Center -- in the mid-1990s.

According to materials attached to Tuesday’s work session agenda, Main Street’s approach is to “foster economic development within the context of historic preservation.” It does not tout itself as a “quick-fix” solution, but “advocates a return to community self-reliance” based on “traditional assets” such as personal service, local ownership, unique physical environment and sense of community.

There are four primary Main Street SC activity areas:

• organization, advocating a total community effort uniting public and private sectors, including business people, merchants, property owners, local government, financial institutions, industry, clergy, schools, residents and civic groups;

• promotion, to attract customers and investors and increase economic viability through a series of “aggressive, targeted activities” such as special events and festivals, events to boost retail sales, image development, cooperative advertising and developing tourism opportunities;

•design, by creating a physical appearance that sets the business district apart from others, based on a “historic preservation ethic” including buildings, signs, window displays and public improvements; and

• economic restructuring, to retain existing commercial businesses by analyzing market forces and developing long-term solutions, identifying strengths, challenges and opportunities in the area, expanding existing businesses and/or recruiting new businesses to fill vacant spaces.

Benefits and services include resource team visits, work plan development, the Main Street Institute, quarterly meetings, design training and assistance, consultations, reference materials, competitive scholarships, annual award programs and customized workshops.

A successful application should, among other items, show a strong commitment from both local government and various private sector organizations to support the program for a minimum of three years; an adequate local budget to financially support that three-year commitment; a commitment to hire paid staff to help administer the program; proof of a nonprofit corporation to serve as the program’s governing body; a demonstrated need for community revitalization; the possibility of significant change in the district as a result of participation; and evidence of a local historic preservation ethic and activity.

The financial commitment is not just in terms of funding what happens locally. There are membership fees charged to participate in the program, based on a community’s population. With a population of approximately 7,000, Camden would have to pay $10,000 during the first year, $7,500 during the second, and another $7,500 during the third year or until required performance standards are met.

In other business during the work session, City Manager Mel Pearson will make a presentation about the recent S.C. Federation of Museums’ annual conference held in Camden. Also, Economic Development Director Wade Luther will bring forward a funding request from Kevin Jackson, director of tennis and aquatics at the Camden Country Club for a junior tennis championship tournament to be held May 30 through June 1.

The work session begins at 4 p.m. Council will also hold its regular meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Items on the meeting agenda include presentation of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s 2013 Excellence Award to the city’s water treatment plant; a proclamation designating April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month; and consideration of a resolution authorizing a grant application to seek funds for the completion of the city’s proposed Broad Street “road diet” project.

Both meetings will be held on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and are open to the public.

 

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