By: Owner/Publisher Thomas Palmer, 1808Delaware

Earlier this week, Main Street Delaware shared news that they had received their official, annual accreditation as a nationally accredited Main Street Community by Heritage Ohio. Accreditation is a process by which local downtown programs are assessed pursuant to a set of performance measures. In short, it means that the local program is meeting its mission and accomplishing its goals effectively.

in recognition of that achievement, I thought I would share a bit about how the Main Street program first game to Delaware. That process’ first step was actually a phone call. I know this, as I am the very person who made that call over two decades ago.

Locally, Main Street Delaware spearheads the revitalization of Delaware’s central business district using a model which has been successfully used across the country for 40 years.

Founded as a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the national organization is now called Main Street America. In those forty decades, the movement has generated some amazing investment statistics, according to its website, including $95.33 billion dollars of investment, 314,431 rehabilitated buildings, 717,723 net jobs created, and 161,036 net new businesses.

In Ohio, individual community Main Street programs are coordinated by Heritage Ohio, which until the early 2000s was known as Downtown Ohio, Inc..

Twenty years ago, there was no Main Street program in Delaware, nor was there a similar program in central Ohio. There was great interest in downtown Delaware, however, and the work now done so well by Main Street Delaware was being accomplished by two separate organizations — Downtown Delaware, Inc., and Celebrate Delaware. The former group was composed of business and property owners; Celebrate Delaware was a promotional group largely composed of merchant representativess.

It was in the summer of 1998 that things began to change, and that change accelerated in 1999.

In the coming days I will share some of the story about how that change took place, up to and including the day that the national Main Street program first arrived in Delaware.

Photo: 1808Delaware

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