Clinton is ‘Tennessee Main Street’

State announces accreditation given to city

Clinton has earned a new statewide – and even nationwide – distinction: It’s now a Tennessee Main Street Community.

The official Main Street accreditation was announced last week by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, and it puts Clinton in an elite small group of cities in the state to have achieved that status.

“We’re one of now 42 cities to qualify, out of about 312 cities statewide,” said Rick Meredith, president of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce.

The Tennessee Main Street logo will be added to downtown signs, and the city will be listed on official state tourism websites as a “Main Street” community.

Meredith and the chamber staff worked with City Manager Roger Houck and other city officials to submit the 200-page application in early May to seek the Main Street status.

The state program is part of Main Street America, a nationwide effort administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which certifies Main Street communities across the nation.

ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced last week that Clinton, Centerville and Clifton had been granted Tennessee Main Street accreditation. Clinton is the only community in Anderson County to make it into the program so far.

“At the heart of every vibrant Tennessee city is a thriving downtown district,” Rolfe said in his announcement. “The Tennessee Main Street program is an integral part of our rural and community development efforts, and we are eager to partner with Clifton, Centerville and Clinton as they develop sustainable revitalization efforts in their downtowns.”

The program “provides training, support and grant opportunities to assist in downtown revitalization efforts,” the announcement said. “Each selected areas of their downtown centers where the program will focus on historic preservation, community events and economic vitality.”

Meredith said Clinton’s focus for its downtown center are Main and Market streets, the heart of historic downtown Clinton.

The program will allow Clinton to compete for state ECD grants to improve and preserve the Main and Market street areas.

Katherine Birkbeck, owner of The Spindle Tree on Market Street, led a steering committee of about 25 people to help prepare for the Main Street program recognition, Meredith said.

City Manager Roger Houck said the effort shows “the commitment” of the city and community organizations “to revitalization of the downtown area.”

“This will help us apply for future grants,” he said.

Clinton already has a grant to help upgrade the streets and sidewalks downtown.

“Now the work begins,” Meredith said. “We can apply for grants for park benches, facades, the downtown color scheme — those types of grants are available. The state sets aside money. It’s competitive, and there is a local match involved.”

According to the announcement, “The Tennessee Main Street Program requires communities to illustrate a commitment from local government and other local organizations, an adequate organizational budget, a strong historic preservation ethic, a collection of historic commercial buildings and a walkable district.”

Other cities that have been granted Tennessee Main Street accreditation are Athens, Bolivar, Bristol, Brownsville, Cleveland, Collierville, Columbia, Cookeville, Dayton, Dyersburg, Elizabethton, Fayetteville, Franklin, Gallatin, Greeneville, Humboldt, Jackson, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Kingsport, Lawrenceburg, Lebanon, Livingston, Maryville, McKenzie, McMinnville, Morristown, Mount Pleasant, Murfreesboro, Paris, Pulaski, Ripley, Rogersville, Savannah, Sevierville, Sweetwater, Tiptonville, Union City and Winchester.

Clinton’s Main Street Application was supported by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) in the Tennessee General Assembly, the announcement said.