Main Street point of discussion at Rotary
By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY – For what seems like months Crowley’s Main Street Program has been a hot topic throughout the city.
Tuesday, the Crowley Rotary Club welcomed Louisiana Main Street Program Director Ray Scriber to speak about the program as well as historic preservation in general.
In 1977 the National Trust for Historic Preservation created a pilot program. In 1984, Louisiana joined the network.
From that point through 2007 (23 years), Louisiana Main Street has seen the creation of 1,740 new businesses and 7,424 new jobs. In those 23 years, $307 million was privately invested and $463 million was the total investment into the program. Furthermore, for every $1 given in grants by the program, $138 in private investments are made.
Crowley has been a Main Street community for several years.
“Crowley is one of our favorite towns that we work with,” said Scriber. “The downtown looks beautiful, but there are other things that will be happening in downtown Crowley
He also reported that he spent Tuesday morning meeting with Crowley Mayor Greg Jones and reported that the Main Street program would continue but would be revamped with a larger focus on volunteers for the committees of the Main Street program.
Main Street, as Scriber explained, is a program designed to promote economic development through historic preservation. It’s office is housed in the Lieutenant Governor’s office.
He opened discussing how businesses view a downtown area.
“Having a vibrant, growing downtown area that showcase the community’s vitality are important to businesses,” said Scriber. “If they are going to bring a business to your community, they want their employees to have things to do so downtown is important.”
Scriber pointed out how it is a symbol of economic health, a good incubator for small businesses and higher property values due to maintained buildings as reasons why the Main Street Program works and how it promotes economic development.
As he continued, Scriber also pointed out the importance of getting volunteers for the program’s ultimate success.
He also stated that the program is working on reaching out to young adults.
Scriber added that the success of a Main Street Program is not only reliant on volunteers, but a community committment in general.
“Main Street talks to the thing that makes a community what it is,” said Scriber. “Your downtown is the heart of the community. I can tell that most of you are involved and interested in the program.
“Your downtown area is what makes Crowley unique.”
One of the more well known parts of the Louisiana Main Street program are the façade grants, which have been utilized throughout Crowley’s Main Street.
“(Crowley) has probably capitalized on that program more than any other communities in the state.”
The grants help buildings restore themselves to their original, historical look.
Louisiana has over 30 Main Street communities, many of which are located in south Louisiana.