Today, the City of West Monroe announced it has been named a Main Street Community. Ray Schreiber, Director of the Louisiana Main Street Program explains the development program.
West Monroe becomes the first city to go through the Lagniappe Community process leading to Main Street designation, and the first community to receive designation from Louisiana Main Street since 2014.
“We are excited to welcome West Monroe as a Louisiana Main Street district. The designation as a Louisiana Main Street District serves as a catalyst for change in communities that otherwise may not have been possible,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Historic downtowns are the heart of any community and the people who live near these areas will reap the benefits from seeing commercial buildings put back into productive reuse. Visitors and tourists visit a town to learn about its history, experience its culture, and to see its historic landmarks.”
West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell has made revitalization of the city’s downtown area a priority of her administration since taking office in 2018. Several privately-owned buildings in downtown West Monroe are currently being renovated or have recently undergone renovation. The city government, in partnership with the Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group, have worked together on several downtown projects, including the recent opening of Alley Park.
“I am thrilled to see downtown West Monroe officially designated as a Louisiana Main Street community,” said Mayor Staci Mitchell. “Our community has worked toward this designation for more than a year. We believe the Main Street model fits perfectly with the revitalization efforts already underway in downtown West Monroe and the progression we have made throughout the entire city. This announcement comes at the right time as many of our store owners are beginning to think about reopening to the public. Although our downtown merchants have faced incredible obstacles these past several weeks, they are resilient. We look forward to them safely reopening and providing valued services and products to the community.”
Mayor Mitchell chose Adrienne LaFrance-Wells as the downtown manager. LaFrance-Wells, who led the city of West Monroe through the application process, will serve as the West Monroe Main Street Director. Previously, she worked as Director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, and with the City of Monroe, where she helped launch the first two seasons of the Downtown River Market. To formally announce the city’s selection as a Louisiana Main Street Lagniappe Community, a news conference was held in downtown West Monroe on Tuesday, May 5.
“This certification is excellent news for our merchants and our community,” said LaFrance-Wells. “The Main Street program provides a roadmap for downtown revitalization, growth, and sustainability. This proven strategy will help nurture our downtown business economy at a time when it is especially needed. The Main Street program is only successful with community participation and input, so everyone is invited to be a part of our progress.”
Acceptance into the Lagniappe Community program provides communities with an intensive 12-18 month capacity-building process to establish a pathway to the National Main Street Center’s Main Street America program. Failure to complete Lagniappe benchmarks within the 18-month period results in termination of the Lagniappe process. The application process begins with a Letter of Intent (LOI) being sent to Louisiana Main Street advising of the community's intent to submit an application for participation in the Lagniappe Community program. Once the letter is submitted, the community has 30 days to submit all application materials.
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $79.12 billion in new public and private investment, generated 640,017 net new jobs and 143,613 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 284,936 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
For more information on the Louisiana’s Main Street program visit the Louisiana Main Street webpage.
More information on the program can be found at www.louisiana.hp.org