Special to Atmore News
Many travelers along I-65 in southwest Alabama recognize Atmore as home of the Wind Creek Casino, but travel just five more miles to find the pride of the community – the historic downtown district.
The dedication of the continued revitalization of the district made the case for Designation and was demonstrated during the five-month long application process through partnerships with community organizations, the city’s commitment, and proven track record of many projects including the ongoing renovation of the Strand Theatre.
“Main Street works 100 percent of the time if the community is willing to work.” Main Street Alabama State Coordinator Mary Helmer said.
“Atmore impressed upon the selection committee that they had the work ethic to become a successful Main Street program that will bring jobs, dollars, and people back to the district.”
The announcement made on social media stated: “We are getting a kick out of our New Main Street Alabama Designated Community! Atmore’s historic notable figures and events include being the birthplace of boxer Evander Holyfield; the site of Railroad Bill’s death, an infamous train robber that was killed following a shootout with the law in 1896; and the home to the first female football kicker to score in an American football game in 1939. Luverne Wise Albert played for Escambia [County] High School and her fame packed the stadium with crowds traveling as far as 180 miles. Other historic icons include the Strand Theatre and former Atmore Hardware Store that serve as focal points of the district. Atmore [was] originally named Williams Station in 1866 after William Larkin Williams, a logging entrepreneur that set up shop along the spur of the Mobile and Great Northern Railroad. Growth continued as more suppliers settled in the area boosting the economy with lumber and turpentine industries. The town was renamed in 1897 to honor C.P. Atmore, the general railroad ticket agent. These facts along with the capacity to maintain a Main Street program scored major points with us! This bustling railroad town is ready for renewal and Main Street Alabama is ready to provide a game plan for success.”
Main Street Alabama will begin work immediately in Atmore to provide board development, goal setting, work planning, market study with economic development strategies, targeted design assistance, and training related to downtown development.
Main Street Alabama is a private non-profit and state coordinating program of Main Street America. The National Main Street Four Point Approach™ is an over 40-year model that focuses work in four areas: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality with strategies unique to the community and based on market-based outcome.
“Setting achievable goals using community input and market data is critical to the revitalization of the district, but it’s also equally crucial to bring stakeholders to the table to work towards a common goal,” Helmer said.
Atmore joins Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Calera, Columbiana, Decatur, Dothan, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Florence, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Headland, Heflin, Historic 4th Avenue Business District in Birmingham, Marion, Monroeville, Montevallo, Jasper, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, South Huntsville and Wetumpka in using Main Street’s comprehensive and incremental approach. Each Designated community listed above reports their success by tracking their reinvestment statistics. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 976 net new businesses, 5,040 net new jobs, $419,950,397 in private investment, $51,592,047 in public improvements, and 105,789 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June of 2014.