On Nov. 30, the District was approved by the state as an apprentice in the program, which provides technical assistance in the revitalization and economic development of historic downtowns. Over the next three years, Park Avenue District will receive assistance in the following areas:
- Economic vitality
Program benefits range from access to grant funding and technical assistance to small business resources and event promotions.
As part of its acceptance into the Florida Main Street program, Park Avenue District is required to hire a director within the first six months of approval. City commissioners approved an initial request for a $50,000 grant, which will be renewed annually for a period of three years. The funds will be used by the Park Avenue District Board of Directors to hire a full-time executive director.
“The goal is for the program to be autonomous by the third year,” Sarah Grafton, Park Avenue District board president, told commissioners during their Dec. 14 meeting.
The director’s role would include applying for grant funding, managing promotions and increasing the number of annual events held in the district. The director would also participate in Main Street Florida training programs, and work to increase membership in the program.
“We’re hoping this director will be very strong in marketing and social media to help promote downtown,” said Grafton at the December commission meeting. “We have about 67 storefronts facing Park Avenue, 47 of which are members of the Park Avenue District already. But it’s not pay-to-play; we represent everyone in the downtown district.”
Funding for the position will be reallocated from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) budget. The grant agreement, which is similar to other nonprofit support agreements, will include reporting benchmarks and allows for future years’ funding to be incorporated into the annual budgeting and approval process.
City Commission approved the first year of the agreement to expedite the hiring of a director, which must be done by the end of May, however the agreement will be brought before the CRA Advisory Board in January for approval of the remaining two years.