Main Street Arkansas cities recorded $68.7 million in investments in downtown projects in 2017, according to a press release from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Main Street Arkansas is a program area of the AHPP, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
There were 215 projects, including façade renovations, interior renovations and new construction, according to the program.
Participating cities showed a net gain of 54 new businesses downtown and 37 business that expanded or relocated to downtown neighborhoods, resulting in a net gain of 522 jobs.
Thirty-five public improvement projects cost a collective $1.5 million in those downtowns, and 20,856 volunteer hours were logged, according to AHPP.
“Investments in the historic commercial cores of our Main Street Arkansas towns show a renewed commitment to historic preservation around the state and the investments shown in 2017 show downtowns are major centers of economic development,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
Cities and downtown organizations involved in Main Street Arkansas are Batesville, Blytheville, Conway, Dumas, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Helena-West Helena, Jonesboro, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Little Rock’s South Main Street (SoMa), Osceola, Ozark, Paragould, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Siloam Springs, Texarkana and West Memphis. Members of Main Street’s Arkansas Downtown Network are Hardy, Pine Bluff, Heber Springs, Fort Smith, Morrilton, Rector, Monticello, Arkadelphia, Clarksville, Warren, Wynne, Forrest City, Malvern, Pocahontas, Newport and Paris.
Main Street Arkansas’ stated objective is to provide technical assistance and design services to help create economic development in the state’s downtown areas, focusing on design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.
Since its inception in 1984, Main Street Arkansas cities have yielded a net gain of 7,085 jobs, a net gain of 1,367 new businesses and 1,239 business expansions and relocations into downtown. A total of $246,576,733 in investment has financed 2,576 façade renovations, rehabilitations and new construction projects. The Main Street cities have seen 1,009 public improvement projects valued at $35,224,887 and 634,170 volunteer hours on Main Street matters, according to the program.