The Ohio Main Street Program, a revitalization project for historic business districts, is looking for a few good cities to receive federal funding, training, and assistance.
The program has been designating communities in Ohio since 1998 and now has 23 involved.
In Toledo, the Lagrange, Uptown, Auburndale, and Galena neighborhoods are part of the restoration effort, as are Bowling Green, Lima, Norwalk, and Sandusky.
Main Street cities are designated in December. Program organizers are looking for places with some kind of grass-roots, preferably nonprofit group working on renewal, historic buildings, and the financial capabilities to sustain a program for at least four years, said Pauline Eaton, director of Downtown Revitalization for Heritage Ohio and Downtown Ohio, Inc.
Designated communities receive training for volunteers, technical support, access to workshops, and money from the Ohio Department of Development through a federal Community Development Block Grant. Each community is required to hire a program director, organize committees, and maintain the program.
“We're really happy with the materials and support we get,” said Judy Nagy, program manager for the Uptown Norwalk Association.
Between 1998 and 2002, about $145.3 million was reinvested in 17 Ohio communities.
In Toledo, Danielle Steinhauser, program manager for the Central City Main Street Program that oversees the neighborhood projects here, has seen renewal in the form of new businesses opening and existing businesses being improved.
But she cautioned that the Main Street Program requires time and effort.
“It didn't deteriorate overnight,” Mrs. Steinhauser said. “We're not going to fix it overnight.”
The Uptown neighborhood joined the project almost two years ago and since then 10 businesses have opened and seven have had their facades improved, according to Matt Wiederhold, Uptown Area Main Street program manager.
Along six blocks of Galena Street, the Dollar Store and More was the first new business in more than 10 years, said Project Manager Kim Cutcher.
In the three neighborhoods excluding Lagrange Street, $7.7 million and 2,500 volunteer hours have been reinvested in the communities.
Communities that wish to be involved need to commit by tomorrow to send a representative to one of three workshops that take place: