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Main Streets Coming Together

March 18, 2020

By Sheri Stuart, Oregon Main Street Coordinator

In Heritage Programs, we have invested a lot of time and energy building our network of Main Street communities to support not only their own local downtown and traditional commercial neighborhoods, but each other as well. I sat in on a conference call this week with the staff and volunteers of Main Street programs coordinated by Kevin Teater, executive director of the Beaverton Downtown Association. It was an incredible example of how our communities are encouraging each other as we navigate through this time of uncertainty. And, as the state coordinator of Oregon Main Street, I was so proud of the leadership our executive directors and board members are demonstrating and the nimbleness of their programs to shift focus to assist their people.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the sharing of proactive and positive ways our communities are identifying ways to help the businesses and staff people in their downtowns. The call could easily have gone in a negative direction. But it didn’t. Instead, folks walked away with some specific ideas they could take back and implement in their communities. Perhaps this was due to Kevin leading off the call with people sharing something good or positive in their life right now. Some of the things are main street communities are putting in place include:

Ideas to support businesses:

  • Albany and Coos Bay will have loading zones for take-out food and delivery to support local restaurants.
  • City of Redmond is working on a Virtual First Friday where community members can support local businesses through on-line sales, gift card purchases, and delivery/door dash.
  • Downtown Oregon City Association has a 5-minute challenge encouraging folks to take 5 minutes to order from a local business rather than Amazon. They are already receiving positive comments.
  • Pendleton Downtown Association is working on a promotion for people getting take-out; take a photo and tag to be entered for a prize.
  • McMinnville Downtown Association is working on getting information on restaurant take-out and food delivery options especially geared to folks staying at hotels up on their website.
  • City of Redmond is creating a Friends of the Flock Facebook group – if you need help ask; if you can help, respond.

Supporting local workers:

  • Lebanon Downtown Association: coordinating servers who are out of work to volunteer to serve as food runners; able to capture the tips
  • Downtown Oregon City Association: working on a list of workers who are laid off; connect with people who can hire them for specific jobs/tasks; will be posting on their website

What businesses are doing:

  • Bookstores are hosting video chats.
  • Mimosa Paint Your Own Pottery in the Alberta District is putting together “to go” art kits.
  • Crossfit is offering on-line Zumba.
  • Senior Support Group in Hillsboro is offering themed group calls like “joke day” to help keep people from feeling isolated and spread a little happiness.

Organizational actions:

  • Canceling some fundraisers; delaying requests for sponsorships for activities happening later in the year
  • Pushing back membership drives and reaching out to let business owners know that this is a deliberate action
  • Private FaceBook groups where members can share one message which is then re-posted as a blog

We are sharing information on available resources and will continue updating ideas on our website.

Our communities have invested a lot of time, energy, and plain hard work in creating even more vibrant downtowns and traditional neighborhood districts that maintain the historic character and sense of place. This is a time we all need to come together to continue to support our historic downtowns and neighborhood districts in whatever way, and in whatever capacity, you are able.

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