MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Main Street Morgantown has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.
Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs to recognize their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach™. Main Street Morgantown’s Executive Director Barbara Watkins said the organization has been nationally accredited since 1994.
“We are always very happy when we get our accreditation back and part of it is because, you know, sometimes, they change criteria and they add additional,” Watkins said. “And especially with, you know, we had COVID last year with 2020, so some of the requirements are training and we have to go to different training to also keep this certification. With 2020, it’s like, did our training qualify or, you know, did we go to the proper or the right number of training that we have to attend?”
Despite pandemic difficulties, Main Street Morgantown was certified again and Watkins said the organization is elated.
The Main Street Morgantown performance is annually evaluated by Main Street West Virginia, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten national performance standards.
Some of those standards, Watkins said, include having a paid director, committees and having projects such as the Morgantown Arts Walk.
Evaluation criteria determine the communities building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and also include fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.
Main Street, its executive director said, continues to work with local businesses and organizations to make the downtown area as vibrant as possible.
“We’re having forums for our downtown businesses and property owners to come to attend,” Watkins said. “Our first one was actually at the Met Theater this past Wednesday where we invited the downtown businesses and like I said, the property owners to come and to voice their opinions of what they felt that is needed and to hear what the city wants because we work very closely with the city of Morgantown.”
Another one of these forums will be held on Oct. 20, Watkins said.
And then, a third will be on Nov. 6.
“We still have our last Arts Walk this coming Saturday, which is October 9th or this tomorrow actually,” Watkins said. “And then, we’re having our first annual Haunted Tour on October 29th, which has been going really well. We’ve sold more than half of our tickets out. And then, of course, we always want to promote Small Business Saturday. The holidays are always a very important time of year for the businesses. We’re working on having more murals downtown through our design committee. And our organizing committee is working on new supportive packets and everything for the businesses.”
These support packages, which will be available through Main Street’s website, will help guide entrepreneurs who are looking to open a business in the downtown Morgantown area.
Watkins said not everybody realizes that you have to get the state and city licenses, as well as approval from a fire safety inspector. That plus all the other permits business owners don’t know about can make starting a business hard. But, Main Street wants to help lower the entry barrier.
“We’ll be putting that on our website for anybody that wants to come down and open a business,” Watkins said.
Main Street Morgantown, a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to the betterment of the Downtown and Wharf Districts through thoughtful revitalization. MSM focuses on the creation of a safe and welcoming physical design in the district; active recruitment, retention, and promotion of the district; preservation of local history through architecture and design in the district; and achievement of a vibrant and thriving business community through a partnership with local stakeholders, both public and private.