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MOUNT VERNON — Main Street Mount Vernon, the central business district’s premier membership organization, with 183 members and open to all area businesses, held its well-attended annual meeting Thursday night at North Main Cafe. Despite snow flurries, about 30 people attended the meeting held inside a coffee shop that opened to the pubic in September 2017.
After a greeting from Executive Director Carrie Hyman, Main Street Mount Vernon President Heather Brayshaw gave a presentation on what she described as a really exciting year in 2018, where the organization “kind of hit our stride and finally getting into our groove,” with even better things ahead this year. The Main Street Mount Vernon mission statement was changed to be more distinct and memorable, Brayshaw offered. It now reads, “We energize and strengthen an authentic and uniquely local downtown experience.” Main Street Mount Vernon has also benefited from its name, which is a better description of what it is than its old name, The Heritage Center. Main Street Mount Vernon is still part of Main Street Ohio, the larger organization to which it belongs.
The year 2018 was also one involving a move from one location on South Main Street into another. The move to the new location, a former design studio at 210 S. Main St., which is modern and roomy, was completed this past July. It also opened up the former location to a retail occupant, she added. Main Street Mount Vernon is a growing organization, so though the move did impact the organization’s budget, it needed to happen, Brayshaw said.
Events old and new will continue this year, she said, one of them being a pared-down First Fridays schedule from June through September. These successful events feature music, food vendors and exhibitors. The months have been scaled down because First Fridays in May competed with school year-ending events, and those held in October suffered from bad fall weather, Brayshaw said. The next Car Show location will be on the Public Square. Wintertime First Fridays are offered now, under the name, “First Fridays Presents Open on Fridays.” The first Public Crawl last year, a successful fall event, will continue, she said. So will Ladies Night Out events in the spring and fall.
Several committee chairs also gave presentations. The first was Carol Grubaugh, who chairs the Design Committee. She offered that a downtown walking tour booklet is being prepared and will be offered to coincide with First Fridays in July. Main Street is considering a “Hidden Spaces” tour, which would be the kind of tour offering glimpses of out-of-the-ordinary downtown spots, such as the lower level of an office building. She also said efforts are being made to develop a downtown “Children’s Tour.” It would invite families to the central corridor and offer architectural features as one of its themes.
Grubaugh also said the Design Committee is working with the city of Mount Vernon on design review standards for downtown establishments. These would not be about restricting businesses but rather offering standards emphasizing beauty. There are also plans underway for downtown wi-fi and charging stations, and even temporary seasonal “pop-up shops.” Still another plan involves better signs for parking — with all of these proposed ideas having one common goal.
“We want to be more inviting,” Grubaugh said. “We want people to come downtown and stay awhile.”
Other committee chairs spoke as well. Nick Burson, who chairs the Economic Vitality Committee, said networking meetings have been successful and will continue. Stakeholder meetings, held online as Facebook group meetings, also are working, giving business owners a way to discuss issues and ideas with each other. He also gave appreciation to Welcome Wagon greetings to new businesses. This year should see even more networking, and member trainings that would offer subjects like learning Quick Books and marketing. Sara Butz, who chairs the Fundraising Committee, said anything inviting — whether it be a beer tent on First Fridays, or some kind of as-yet to be offered event showing the tradition of Mount Vernon — may help with fundraising. Butz emphasized she is open to any and all ideas of how to help Main Street Mount Vernon achieve its fundraising goals, which will be “aggressive” as the organization seeks to expand its influence on a successful and growing central business district.
Main Street Mount Vernon is comprised of 12 voting members this year on its Board of Directors, as well as Ex-Officio non-voting members. The voting members serve three-year terms, which can be renewed twice after the first term, Hyman said. The Executive Committee this year consists of the following voting members: Heather Brayshaw, who returns as President; Sara Butz, President-Elect; Lisa Lloyd, Treasurer; and Vicki Coleman, Secretary. Other members of the Board of Directors include Nick Burson, Sara Mankins, Jan Reynolds, Alyssa Lawrence, Vicki Maple, Lori Armstutz, Zac DiMarco and Samantha Scoles. Ex-Officio members are Justin Bauer, CVB; Bill Pursel, Knox County commissioner; Jeff Gottke, Area Development Foundation; Carol Grubaugh, Knox County Chamber of Commerce; Janis Seavolt, Mount Vernon City Council; and Jen Odenweller, The Ariel Foundation.