October 18, 2012 11:25:48 AM
Main Street Columbus is actively searching for a new director.
Amber Brislin, the current director, resigned last month but agreed to stay on until her replacement was hired. A seven-member search committee was formed and Main Street Columbus Board President Brandt Galloway said Wednesday the committee has received several viable applications. Interviews are expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Brislin has become the face of Main Street Columbus in her five-year tenure as director, especially for her role as organizer for the annual Market Street Festival. Galloway says the job entails more than that, however.
"Market Street Festival is the largest fundraiser for Main Street Columbus, but it is only a small portion of the job," Galloway said. "In addition to Market Street Festival, the new director will also be responsible for promoting and organizing downtown development, the farmer's market, the New Year's Eve Block Party, the Sounds of Summer and Noon Tunes events, Wassail Fest, the Christmas Parade, and several other events and projects that benefit downtown Columbus."
The qualifications for the director's position include a bachelor's degree, five years experience in community development, business economics, downtown development and/or marketing, public relations and promotions and event planning.
Galloway said those qualifications are key to the position.
"Ideally, we'd like to see someone who can continue the success we've had at Columbus Main Street." he said.
Local downtown merchants also hope the new director will have an energetic personality and a solid understanding of retail.
Geraldine Coleman has worked at The Purple Elephant for eight years. She said having a new director with a keen business sense is a must.
"I would hope they have a good understanding of retail," she said. "I would also hope they have a good blend of promoting downtown as a tourist attraction and understanding that it's an environment for business and working together."
Galloway noted the organization's coveted Great American Main Street Award and the board's desire to hire someone who could achieve that designation again.
"We were awarded the Great American Main Street Award in 2010, one of only five in the country given out each year," Galloway said. "We are the only Main Street in Mississippi to have won that award. Additionally, we'd like to have someone on board who will continue to promote downtown as a place to work, live, dine and play."
Donna Garrison, with Savvy Spaces, echoed both Galloway's and Coleman's thoughts on hiring a director heavily involved in the comings and goings of downtown merchants.
"I hope they would have some retail knowledge, someone who is aware of the economy and how it affects retail," she said.
Garrison added that she hoped the new director will court new businesses to the numerous vacant storefronts downtown.
"I would want someone with bright new ideas and who is actively recruiting businesses for downtown," she said.
Galloway spoke fondly of the downtown area and was quick to point out the attributes Columbus has to offer.
"I hope Columbus continues to build on the success that we've had, not only at Main Street but city-wide,'' Galloway said, noting that there have been many additions to the downtown area that paint a promising outlook for the future.
"The Riverwalk has been a great addition for downtown,'' he said. "The new soccer complex will be a big draw for downtown Columbus. The rehab of the old river bridge is a big project. We need to continue to find opportunities to enhance the attractiveness of downtown Columbus, not only for living but for working."
The last day to apply for the position is Monday.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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