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April 17, 2013

Rochester named 2013 Great American Main Street

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

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Rochester’s thriving Main Street was honored as a 2013 Great American Main Street Award winner during the National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans April 14.

ROCHESTER — Rochester was one of three communities in the nation honored over the weekend as a 2013 Great American Main Street Awards winner by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“This is an award that’s what I call the Super Bowl of awards. It’s the top honor that any downtown can receive from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Main Street Center,” Rochester Downtown Development Authority Director Kristi Trevarrow said.

Trevarrow received word that the DDA was chosen to receive the prestigious award in February, but she was not able to speak publicly about it until it was officially announced during the annual National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans April 14.

“For us, it really is just a validation of the work that our volunteers, our board, our City Council, the city, that everybody has been working toward to make Rochester the fantastic place that it is,” Trevarrow said, adding that the DDA might organize an event to mark the honor, which will also likely be included in future marketing efforts. “Once you are named a Great American Main Street, you are a Great American Main Street, so it’s really going to become a part of who we are and what we do.”

The annual awards recognize the nation’s leaders in implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach, embracing sound historic preservation practices and building strategic partnerships, according to Mary de la Fe, program manager for conferences for the National Main Street Center. The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based economic development. It was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 30 years ago and has been implemented by more than 2,000 communities throughout the U.S.

A national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals and governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation selected this year’s winners.

“The judges look at not only how well they (implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach), but how well they’ve gone over and above and really done great innovative things utilizing the approach as the base of the starting point,” de la Fe said.

Other criteria for winning included active involvement of the public and private sectors, broad-based community support for the revitalization effort, innovative solutions to significant problems and commitment to historic preservation.

Officials noted that the Rochester DDA was successful in “transforming a mill town that had fallen on hard times into a thriving suburb of Detroit built around a strong sense of place and community.” The DDA was also given accolades for attracting “a loyal following” to downtown Rochester with “a robust mix of public events, creative use of social media and a broad spectrum of volunteer involvement.” For example, organizers noted that the DDA’s Big, Bright Light Show draws 1 million visitors each holiday season to enjoy 1.5 million lights — lighting up merchants’ cash registers in the process.

Valecia Crisafulli, acting director of National Main Street Center, said the Rochester DDA is a true innovator in marketing and small business assistance, and has the vibrant downtown to prove it.

“At a time when many municipalities are losing population, Rochester has experienced a 20 percent increase in population. With a 4 percent vacancy rate downtown and 132 new businesses since adopting the Main Street Approach, the DDA can take great pride in creating an inviting place for people to live, shop and open businesses,” she said in a statement.

The other two 2013 winners are H Street Main Street in Washington, D.C., and Ocean Springs Main Street in Ocean Springs, Miss. For more, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/awards/gamsa/.