By Judith Roberts
Ruston Main Street has continued its accredited status as one of 20 Louisiana recipients of the 2022 Accredited Main Street America programs.
Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier recognition demonstrating a commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully implementing the Main Street Approach.
“We have been nationally accredited since 2017,” said Amy Stegall, Main Street director. “This was an intentional move by then Man Street director, Haley Perot, to strengthen our Main Street program. We are part of the Louisiana Main Street Coordinating program and meet quarterly with members across the state to learn about new trends, grant opportunities, and promotion of our Main Streets. We also meet annually at the National Main Street Now conference with Main Streeters all across the country.”
Stegall said national accreditation is a great asset for Ruston’s Main Street program.
“It gives us access to resources on a national level like, grant funding, connection with experts in the field of community planning, event and promotion and so much more,” she said. “It really is just a great network of opportunities across the country.”
Nationally in 2021, Main Street America programs generated $5.76 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 6,601 net new businesses, generated 30,402 net new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 10,595 historic buildings, and leveraged 1,427,729 volunteer hours. On average, for every dollar that a Main Street program spent to support their operations, it generated $19.34 of new investment back into Main Street communities.
“Being a part of Main Street America is an incredible honor,” Stegall said. “We strive to ensure that we maintain Ruston’s distinctive culture and sense of place. This is one of the fundamental goals of Main Street America. There is no other Ruston, Louisiana, and we want to ensure that we do not lose our historic value. By using the Main Street approach for economic vitality, promotion, organization, and design we find that our community is transformed and all working together for the common goal. Revitalization has happened in our downtown and continues to be a big part of what we do.”
From investment in infrastructure to private and public development, Stegall said they see intentional well thought out plans that make the community and Main Street even better.
“For me, this is the best part of who we are and this accreditation means we are moving in the right direction with all of the resources at our side,” she said.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser said historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts are the heart and soul of communities across Louisiana.
“They give the community its sense of place and character and provide the uniqueness that sets one community apart from another,” he said. “In addition, historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts are great locations for small businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s an honor to be able to recognize these 20 Louisiana communities who have worked diligently to revitalize their social cohesion and economic sustainability.”
Stegall added that support from Ruston’s mayor and city council helps support Main Street.
“Making the downtown a true destination where community events happen is important,” she said. “When you add in (that) it is also where you’ll also find amazing retail stores, restaurants and services, it makes it a great place to live, work and play. We are excited about some of the new events like the Second Annual Juneteenth event happening in Railroad Park and the Art Encounter series that will begin in July. We are also excited that almost all of our retail spaces are full. While we have had some transition, there are very few available spaces in our district. This speaks volumes for the good businesses that we have.
“Main Street is also about historic preservation and we work hard to maintain the historic value of our downtown. Like I said before, there is only one Downtown Ruston and we don’t want to see if disappear.”
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