The Downtown Franklin Association, a division of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program for the 36th year in a row.
Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach.
Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley said in a press release that this designation is an honor for Franklin’s Main Street and is a testament to collaborative teamwork from so many in the community.
“Achieving this accreditation for 36 consecutive years is a nod to the commitment from this community, the businesses on Main Street and the supporters of the Heritage Foundation who have continued to patronize our downtown merchants,” Beasley said. “This hard work has allowed our community to curate not only a special place that draws visitors from around the country, but a place where local retailers want to do business.”
Downtown Franklin’s performance is evaluated by Tennessee Main Street, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet 10 rigorous performance standards.
Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.
“In terms of economic vitality, 2019 was a banner year in downtown Franklin,” said Downtown Franklin Association’s Main Street Director Jill Burgin. “There were 12 ribbon cuttings for new businesses just in the historic downtown district, and the new Harpeth Hotel opened in November after years of planning and construction.
"Downtown Franklin is fortunate to have a city government that is accessible and supportive of revitalization, as well as a dedicated group of small business owners who are the heart and soul of this community.”
Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center, said the organization is proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities.
“These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities," Frey said. "During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”
In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new were jobs created and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.
Burgin notes the importance of accreditation.
“When downtown Franklin had declined in the 1970s because of shifts in retail shopping habits, businesses, building owners and preservationists rallied to form the Downtown Franklin Association in 1984 in order to revitalize the area,” she said.
“Originally part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Main Street Program provides a framework for groups to follow to renew and maintain their historic downtowns, which are the original mixed-use communities that developers try so hard to replicate these days,” Burgin added.