Foley Main Street looking towards future after COVID-19

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FOLEY - Though COVID-19 has closed down numerous businesses across the world, Foley Main Street is still hard at work looking towards the future after the pandemic has ended. Foley Main Street, which kicked off back in 2018 after a long application process, is designed to help cities’ downtown areas further develop and bring the area to life.

Since the beginning of 2020, Foley Main Street’s Facebook page has gone from 1,690 followers to 2,893 followers, while the Instagram account has gone from 416 followers in Dec. 2019 to 687 followers as of April.

“It’s more important than ever when we do come out of this pandemic to be pushing for development and communicating why it’s so important to have a successful downtown,” said Executive Director Darrelyn Dunmore. “To ensure this, we’ve been focusing on social media, working hard to raise those numbers so we can get information out to more people.”

The next goal will be to increase online exposure for Foley’s downtown businesses. People can expect to see a Foley Main Street app in the future that will be based on geo mapping.

“This is through national Main Street,” Dunmore said. “On average there’s thousands of people on these apps daily, connected throughout the entire United States. So anyone coming through Foley, as soon as they hit our geo boundary, they’ll get a notification that says this is a district community.”

Dunmore is working on collecting information on local attractions and businesses and marking parking that can be included on the Foley Main Street app. The business information collected will also be used online to create free listings in a marketplace setting. Users will be able to go to the Foley Main Street website and click on the marketplace to see what’s being highlighted in downtown.

“We have to think about the future differently in these times, and this is a great lead; working on simple ways to get businesses, whether service, retail, or restaurant, more exposure online,” said Dunmore. She says people can be on the lookout for districts to be rolled out soon, and hopefully the Main Street marketplace as well.

Downtown developments are still moving forward, including development on the Cactus Café building. The structure is undergoing a full historic renovation, with plans for it to be put back into service for multiple tenants. Developers state they are 95% complete with the first stages of the project and are in talks with an architect. Other happenings downtown include the near completion of a new doctor’s office, and the Rat Pack Barbershop will be moving to a larger location.

To help further the growth of Main Street, Dunmore is working with a lawyer to start the Foley Main Street Community Foundation, with which the program would be able to more easily approach other foundations for grants. These grants could then be put towards future Main Street projects.

Many people look forward to the branding process, designed to capture everything that Foley represents and providing a brand that can be used for city promotion. The process was originally scheduled to begin in April, and will now take place on June 9, 10, and 11 when Main Street Alabama representatives visit the area.

Before then, what can businesses do now to help promote and make it through these uncertain times?

“This is a good time for businesses to be dressing up their fronts and reorganizing their stores,” Dunmore said. “Another thing that businesses can do is partner with other local businesses. If one business sells chocolate while a restaurant owner is finding themselves with a lot of wine left over, they can partner together and offer package deals to customers. It requires a lot of communication between the two, but right now businesses are working even harder for fewer sells, so if you partner it can make it a little less harmful.”

To learn more, you can follow Foley Main Street on Facebook and Instagram, and check out www.foleymainstreet.com.