Elizabethton holds first Main Street membership meeting Tuesday

Local businesses in Elizabethton gathered at the Coffee Company Tuesday evening to hold their first Main Street Program membership meeting, laying the groundwork and looking to the future of downtown.

New Director of Elizabethton’s branch of the program Courtney Washburn said this meeting would be the first of many.

“This is just the beginning,” Washburn said.

After months of working with businesses and Main Street representatives alike, this first membership meeting was all about how the program would work from a management standpoint, as well as nominating some of the board of directors.

This board of directors will be made up of the five chairpeople of the five subcommittees, Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, Organization and Merchants, as well as a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, two regular board members, and a representative from the city and county.

“They will make the larger policy decisions,” City Planning Director Jon Hartman said.

During the meeting, members named Frankie Bailey of the Coffee Company as President, Cathy Shoun of the Dressing Room as Vice President, Jeff Treadway of City Council and the Bonnie Kate Theater as Secretary and Joe Alexander of Alexander Insurance as Treasurer.

“In my position, you work for the results,” Hartman said. “This is very exciting.”

These next steps towards the creation of the Main Street Program in Elizabethton, he said, are part of the city’s recent growth in business, particularly in downtown.

Hartman and Washburn said they wanted to thank the Downtown Business Association, who helped Elizabethton get to this point after Main Street initially left Elizabethton.

“If it were not for them, we would not be here today,” Hartman said.

As for their official application to be a part of the national Main Street Program, Tuesday’s developments, in addition to hiring Washburn, put them about 90 percent of the way through the application process.

“Part of Courtney’s objectives are to get the application finalized,” he said.

He said this delay is partially due to wanting to wait and see what their funding is going to look like. Though the city is funding Washburn’s salary, the rest of their budget will come directly from membership fees, so until they see what those numbers look like, it will be difficult to see what they will actually look like. Further, hiring a Director and showing the national branch the number of businesses on board with Main Street might make the application process a bit easier.

Those interested in more information about the Main Street program or wish to become a member can do so by contacting Washburn at 423-213-0090 or cwashburn@cityofelizabethton.com.

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