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Jonesborough seeks Main Street status

Tennessee’s oldest town is getting with the program – the Tennessee Main Street Program.
Originally established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the early 1980s, the Main Street Program includes 24 communities in Tennessee. It aims to improve the business climate in downtown areas and emphasizes preservation of historic properties.
The organization advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on unique assets such as distinctive architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment and local ownership.
Town leaders have, in the past, discussed getting involved with the program. However, several factors kept them from doing so, including the requirement of 25 hours per week of dedicated staff as well as the feeling that the town already had a handle on preservation.
Now, it appears officials feel the time has come to get involved with the Tennessee Main Street Program.
Town Administrator Bob Browning recently sent in a Notice of Intent to apply for Main Street status. But the application process, Browning said, requires a great deal of work.
One of the first steps is to create a nonprofit organization – Main Street Jonesborough – that will take on all the requirements of the program and maintain it in Jonesborough. At its January meeting, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a resolution supporting the establishment of the Main Street Jonesborough organization.
Ultimately, Browning said participation in the program would help Jonesborough create a coordinated effort among volunteers and organizations in downtown.
“If we did not do anything else but set up this enhanced communication and coordination network, the effort to set up the Main Street Program in Jonesborough is worth it,” Browning said.
The town plans to fulfill the staffing hours with Town Event Coordinator Melinda Copp, whose job already entails much of the required work of the Main Street Program.
Browning hopes to send in the application next month.
Johnson City, Greeneville and Kingsport are among local Tennessee communities that have already garnered Main Street status.