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Main Street Columbus celebrates 'monumental' year

 

Ryan Poe

 

Downtown Columbus gained 11 businesses, lost five and brought in about $6 million in private and public investments in 2010, according to Main Street President Todd Gale. 

 

Main Street businesses also created more than 55 jobs, lost nine and rehabilitated four building facades, according to the statistics, which were released at the annual Main Street Columbus luncheon Tuesday. 

 

The growth was partly due to significant investments downtown: More than $3 million in public funds and almost $3 million in private funds, Gale said. 

 

"Not to mention the over 4,550 volunteer hours worked to make everything possible," he added. 

 

Since 1985, when Main Street Columbus was created, more than $35 million has been invested by private entities and nearly $10 million by public, creating more than 7,800 jobs and 172 new businesses, Gale continued. 

 

"For which," he told the audience, "I thank all of you." 

 

Main Street Columbus Director Amber Brislin also thanked those who have supported the growth of downtown. 

 

"This is a celebration of all of you," she said, complimenting the crowd. 

 

This year has been a monumental year for the organization, which applied for and won a designation as one of the top five main streets in the country in May 2010 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

 

After the organization''s officers -- including its 2011 president, Stewart Stafford -- gave a general update, the organization presented awards to various audience members for their work in the downtown community and at the organization. 

 

Following the awards ceremony, Greater Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Robert Ratliff gave the keynote, urging Columbus to support its CVB and Main Street program. 

 

He also told Main Street Columbus members to look at other growing cities in the area, like Tuscaloosa and Tupelo, for ideas. 

 

"No point reinventing the wheel," he said. "Just replicate something good you see." 

 

For instance, Tuscaloosa''s downtown, audio-guided walking tour had been very successful, he said. Also, his CVB has its own radio station, which punctuates smooth jazz with plugs for the city. 

 

"You''ve got a great thing going here," he said of the Columbus Main Street scene. "Don''t sell yourself short."

 

 

 

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