City receives National Main Street designation
by Courtney Stevens
May 29, 2013 | 1602 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Mississippi Main Street Association has once again designated Cleveland as an accredited National Main Street Program.

Judson Thigpen, executive director of Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce said, "We have prided ourselves, not just from the chamber but from city leadership, to preserve the historic significance of the downtown area."

In 1995 Cleveland adopted a historic preservation ordinance in order to better protect historic areas of the city.

"We want to maintain that heritage look. It's a certified area now. It’s the historic shopping district or Crosstie district and we want to maintain that," said Thigpen.

The chamber has also created Cleveland's own main street program — Team Cleveland.

"We felt like, to be more inclusive of businesses other than just those on Sharpe Street and Cotton Row, we created our own program," said Thigpen.

The National Main Street Center, a branch of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, began this program 30 years ago in an effort to renew downtowns as the cores of their community.

Due to the interstate highway system, and the popularity of shopping malls, America's downtowns began to struggle to stay alive. Smaller businesses began closing, shoppers were less frequent, and property value dropped.

Seeing this as a threat to the historical downtown feel of a community, the National Main Street Center implemented the Main Street Program in an effort to bring downtowns back to their former glory.

Since then, over 1,600 communities have adopted the Main Street approach, including Cleveland.

In order to qualify as a National Main Street Program, the community must meet 10 standards of performance, given by the National Main Street Center.

Some of those standards are to have strong community support, possess a historic preservation ethic, and to have an active board of directors and committees.

Members of Cleveland's community put forth a great deal of effort in an attempt to preserve the history of Cleveland.