Foley submits Main Street application

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 5/14/18

FOLEY – The City of Foley has been hard at work to get into the Main Street, Alabama program for a few years, and the application for the program was submitted on Thursday, May 3.

“This was …

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Foley submits Main Street application

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FOLEY – The City of Foley has been hard at work to get into the Main Street, Alabama program for a few years, and the application for the program was submitted on Thursday, May 3.

“This was submitted and overnighted and Main Street, Alabama has received it,” said councilman Ralph Hellmich. “Can you believe we were the first people ever who didn’t hand deliver it? But it arrived early, and we hope to be selected.”

The Main Street, Alabama program focuses on helping downtown areas grow and thrive, bringing in new businesses, taking care of the businesses that are already there, and bringing fun and creative projects to life to make each downtown area unique and memorable.

“For this year, we have $30,000 to up to $63,500 built into the budget for the program,” said Hellmich. “That will cover the fees for Main Street and will cover a contract director salary. This person will not be working for the city, it will be a contract employee that we’ll be working with. This is going to be one of our gives to the Main Street organization.”

The application process is rigorous, beginning with an in-depth application that includes facts and statistics about a city, along with written documents detailing why the Main Street program is needed in an area and how having the program will benefit the city. Once the paper application is submitted, the process isn’t done yet.

“There will be a selection interview on May 23, and we will send a delegation to Birmingham,” said Hellmich. “It will include councilmembers and the mayor, as well as other city officials. Basically, we have an hour and a half to do a song and dance as to why we’re great.”

This live presentation is put on to showcase what makes areas a perfect fit for the program, and can include skits, musical performances, and unique history facts about the area.

“One of the main things that we feel that the Main Street program will do will give the downtown an identity that will allow it to go to a higher level,” said Hellmich. “We’ve put things in place down there, we’re already seeing some businesses come, but this will allow them to sub-brand that area, there will be signage and things of that nature. The whole purpose of this organization is to work toward our downtown, the heart and soul of our city … We are trying to put a real emphasis on this downtown regarding economic development and identity and maintaining our quality way of life for our downtown area.”

Along with the application, in-kind services have also been outlined. The South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce has volunteered to provide a space where the director for Main Street can work, which will include an office and work necessities.

“Eventually the goal will be to get this Main Street program to where it is independent,” said Hellmich. “It will be run by a board, it will be a non-profit of some sort. The city will undertake that and have it set up, and then we’ll start getting board members out there and in staggered terms and have established bylaws. But the whole key is, we need to be selected first. I think we have a really good case.”

One of the top arguments promoting Foley is the 50,000 plus cars that go through the downtown area each day.

“What great advertisement that will be for the Main Street organization to have us as a Main Street,” said Hellmich. “I’m not aware of any other Main Street city that has that volume of visitors. It will be a billboard for the Main Street program, for the rest of the state of Alabama, and I think it’ll go a long way for the organization.”

The main concern felt by city officials, said Hellmich, is all the work that has gone into the downtown area over the past three years. Many of the same requests by cities applying for the program have already been done by the City of Foley. Also, there’s no way of knowing how many applications have been submitted.

“We’re not even sure how many other cities have applied,” said Hellmich. “The organization will accept two cities this year. May not be that many have applied, could be a bunch. I’m not aware of anyone else in Baldwin County applying; we hope to be the first in Baldwin.”

The two cities who will be joining the Main Street, Alabama program in 2018 will be announced at the beginning of June, so in less than a month Foley hopes to see the program coming to downtown.