LG chosen to participate in Oregon Main Street program
La Grande was one of 10 communities recently selected by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to participate in the Oregon Main Street program.
Now, it’s time to muster volunteers and start taking some action on downtown improvements.
“We’re getting organized. We have a number of people who want to serve on committees,” said City Manager Robert Strope.
Kulongoski announced selections for the program at an event in Oregon City. La Grande had applied earlier this year following a series of meetings and work sessions on the need for downtown improvements.
The Main Street program is a national program developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which includes more than 1,600 cities in 40 states.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the proven comprehensive approach emphasizes community organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring to create healthy downtown commercial districts.
The approach advocates a return to community self-reliance, empowerment and the rebuilding of commercial districts based on traditional assets, unique architecture, personal service, local ownership and sense of community.
“Small businesses are our economic foundation. With the Main Street program, we join together to retain and grow small businesses throughout Oregon,” said Kulongoski. “These partnerships help Oregon move forward and represent investments we should be making in difficult economic times.”
The Oregon Main Street program is administered by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, and provides three levels of programs that allow communities to participate in ways that best meet their capacity and needs.
Thirty-two cities are enrolled in the entry-level “Exploring Downtown” program and
eight communities have submitted letters of intent to apply for the “Performing Main Street” and “Transforming Downtown” programs in early 2009.
Albany, Baker City, Oregon City and Roseburg have been selected to participate in the current Performing Main Street program.
Carlton, La Grande, Oakridge, Riddle, Sandy, and the North Northeast Business Association have been selected to participate in the Transforming Downtown program.
The Oregon Main Street program was re-established through the efforts of the Main Street Task Force and approved by the Legislature in 2007.
The state program was developed in 2008 and this announcement represents the first annual selection of cities and communities.
The selection process included submitting an application that describes the community, downtown area, historical identity, goals, readiness, support and funding commitments.
In May, Gary Van Huffel of the OECDD and Linda La Plante of the National Trust appeared in La Grande for a two-day seminar on the program.
Subsequently, the city sent OECDD a letter of intent to participate. Following a meeting with the public and a city council work session, the council submitted an application.
Now that the application has been accepted, the La Grande Renaissance Committee is playing a lead role in the local effort, Strope said.
“They will be the core of the organizing committee,” he said. He added that Charlie Mitchell, La Grande’s new economic development director, has overall charge of the program.
Strope also said the city is slated to meet with Oregon Main Street representatives in early November.
Acceptance into Oregon Main Street programs allows communities to participate in training, community assessments, technical assistance, the Oregon Main Street network, national recognition, and future grant programs.