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Main Street Texarkana Seeks Downtown Investors Through Memberships

Photo by Main Street Texarkana
Photo by Main Street Texarkana

Main Street Texarkana has begun its 2017 Investor Membership Campaign.  As an Investor of Main Street Texarkana, through a membership, donors help support the local program with projects and programs that promote the revitalization and tourism of historic downtown Texarkana, said Ina McDowell, executive director of Main Street Texarkana.  Main Street Texarkana formed over ten years ago, and is one of only two bi-state Main Street programs in the United States, benefiting from the expertise of professionals with Main Street Texas and Main Street Arkansas.

According to a release from Main Street Texarkana, the organization uses the 4-Point Approach(Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Vitality) created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for use by all Main Street programs in the United States.  This simple approach was created over 35 years ago, and works as a guide for economic development in downtown areas using existing structures and their unique architectural design.  Technical services for design, promotion, and business development are among the free services provided by Main Street Texarkana.

It is a way of preserving our early Texarkana history, while allowing for progress to meet the economic needs of the community today, said McDowell.  Much progress has been made in the last few years with new restaurants, newly available office space, new businesses, as well as an increase in living spaces.  There has been an increasing demand for living space, McDowell added.  I receive calls daily from individuals seeking loft apartments, or business space.  The downtown atmosphere is unique with a slower, quiet living, that many seek.  The feeling of living among early history with exposed bricks, beautiful windows, and early architectural designs is a huge draw for all ages.  It is a very exciting time for our downtown.  And, of course, the uniqueness of two states in our downtown, make it even more interesting, she added.

Main Street Texarkana was recently accredited by Main Street Texas and is being recommended for national accreditation to be announced in May.  Main Street Texarkana was also recently awarded a $40,000 Façade Loan/Grant program from Main Street Texas and the National Main Street Center.  It is a pilot project that is made possible with a grant from the 1772 Foundation.  Texarkana was one of only two cities in the country to receive this opportunity.

The last few months have been especially exciting working with Main Street Texas staff, the National Main Street Center, and at least 4 downtown property owners that will benefit from this pilot project, McDowell said.  Several have already received personal exterior design services and are now proceeding with implementing of their plans.  This is the first time that we have been able to offer grant monies from the Main State Texas program, McDowell noted.   It was also recognized with a 2016 Excellence Award from Main Street Arkansas, titled Best Place making Project, for its inception of the Better Block event.

Downtown revitalization benefits the entire community and much has been accomplished recently in our downtown.  2017 is going to be an exciting year with the continued joint efforts of both cities of Texarkana.  We have a wonderful downtown with many opportunities for new businesses, living, beautification, and continued success for our current businesses.  Our downtown is unique because of the state line, but it also holds many fascinating stories related to early businesses, music legends, and beautiful historic architecture, she said.

The downtown State Line Post Office/Federal Courthouse remains one of the most popular tourist stops with visitors able to stand in two states.  It is said to be the second most photographed courthouse in the country behind the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C.  There is much still to “reveal” about our community’s history and Main Street Texarkana works to preserve and promote our history while providing economic development and attractions for tourism, McDowell said.

Main Street Texarkana presents the annual Main Street Christmas Parade in downtown Texarkana, publishes the Texarkana City Guide, designs and sells historic landmark medallion collectibles, and participates in numerous events and community efforts that drive the revitalization and tourism of our unique downtown, McDowell said.  It is also planning the 3rd annual Dine on the Line event set for Saturday, October 7, 2017.   This is a great event promoting our unique position on the State Line of two states.   Current board president, Lee Medley, developed this idea and it was a tremendous success last fall.  We are excited about the event again this year, with several new activities to “toast” and celebrate the two states, McDowell added.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation began the Main Street program with a pilot program to save historic commercial architecture.  Main Street Texas was one of the first to become a state program in 1981.  Main Street Arkansas joined the program in 1984.  The National Main Street Program recently was reorganized to become its own subsidiary, The National Main Street Center.

Main Street programs across the country have generated over $61.7 billion in investments, rehabilitation of over 250,000 buildings and more than 530,000 jobs since the beginning.  Studies show a $26.52:1 return on investment. There are over 2000 communities that are Main Street communities in the United States, since last year.

Main Street Texarkana Investor Membership levels begin at $25.  Supporters receive an electronic newsletter every 2 months with updates on events and projects in downtown.  For more information on support of Main Street Texarkana, call Ina McDowell, executive director, at 903-792-7191 or email, mainstreet@texarkana.org.  Membership information is also available at their website.

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