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2016 Issue 12: A Special Main Street Edition

Develop, Innovate, Prosper

The Main Street of America Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary

Before there were turnpikes and four lane highways, there was a road – the “Mother Road,” as it was called – that ran through the state of Oklahoma on its way from Illinois to California. One of the United States’ first continuous spans of paved highways, Route 66 is not just another highway. Almost everyone in the U.S., at one time or another, has traveled at least a portion of this road – whether they know it or not. Because it cuts through so much of not only America, but Oklahoma as well, it is extra special to many for the rich history of folklore and culture that happened on the journey. Since its inception 90 years ago, Route 66 has become one of the most iconic roads in America. Oklahoma has more than 400 miles of the Mother Road running through the state which passes through several Oklahoma Main Street

Programs from Claremore to El Reno and beyond. The popularity of Route 66 helped establish and support communities along the road. The highway has undergone many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, and though it was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985, it’s still celebrated as America’s Main Street.

including bicycles, books and boutiques! Kendall Whittier Main Street in Tulsa – This young, vibrant and creative community of businesses is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee at Fair Fellow and a pastry at Pancho Anyo Bakery as you stroll to the independent theater, Circle Cinema to catch a film.

Oklahoma’s Main Street towns along Route 66 (in order from northeast to west) include:

Tulsa Route 66 Main Street – Cruise through a four-mile stretch along historic Route 66 (Southwest Boulevard) between the Arkansas River and 33rd West Avenue in Southwest Tulsa.

Claremore Main Street – U.S. Route 66 is also known as the Will Rogers Highway. Visit the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore to learn more about the man who would entertain and inspire a nation. Then, travel to Claremore’s Main Street for an eclectic mix of shops

Sapulpa Main Street – Sapulpa offers a diverse blend of shopping experiences downtown and a variety of events year round. From a Downtown Holiday Stroll in December that includes carriage rides and photos with Santa, to a Route 66 Blowout in June that lines the streets Continued on page 8

THE STATE OF MAIN STREETS Making an Impact on Oklahoma’s Economy

Oklahoma’s Main Street program has been pumping new life back into the heart of communities across the state for more than 30 years. Combining historic preservation and downtown revitalization efforts with powerful economic stimulation, Main Street restores the core assets of our communities and enhances the quality of life for citizens.

$1.2 Billion in Private Investment (Around $38 million in 2016) TX

$370 Million in Public Investment

(As of September 2016, $8 million has been invested)

18,000 New Jobs 5,243 Business Openings, Relocations and Expansions 1.3 Million Volunteer Hours (Since 2002)

4,693 Facade Rehabilitations 8,742 Other Building Projects & New Construction *Source: Main Street Cumulative Reinvestment Rteport through September 2016


Total investment in Main Street programs including private sector and public improvement projects

Contact the Main Street Program for more information at 800-879-6552 or email

Making a Difference the Main Street Way Advice from Experienced Main Street Program Directors

The success of every Main Street program is due in large part to the hard work of the Main Street program directors. The 35 Main Street communities are represented by an equal number of dedicated program directors who strive to improve their community every day. “Main Street managers are the driving force in these communities,” said Buffy Hughes, Director, Oklahoma Main Street Program. “There are several directors in our program who have served their communities for many years. These individuals are a great resource for the program and other Main Street directors.”

Stephen Boyd has been the program director of Hobart Main Street since they were accepted into the state program in 2002. He puts all of those years of experience and knowledge to work daily, resulting in Hobart Main Street successes with the board, committees and the Junior Main Street program.

Newkirk Main Street was the first Small Town accepted into the statewide program in 1992. Karen served as president of the board for Newkirk and then program manager in 1995, a position she has held ever since that time. She has received the state award for Program Manager of the Year three times and Newkirk has won Community of the Year three times.

Advice from Stephen Boyd, Hobart Main Street: Communities should identify areas of need to seek out the programs that the Main Street can provide. The Main Street program gives community leaders and all the different entities of the community opportunities to do strategic planning to set goals and objectives that will be vital for community improvement. The Main Street Program Four Point Approach certainly will give communities the direction they need to accomplish their goals.

Advice from Karen Dye, Newkirk Main Street: This is one of the most difficult, frustrating but rewarding and game changing programs for any community! Main Street is about the community coming together as volunteers to effect that change. Everyone has to become a part of the solution – city government, private citizens and businesses.

It is vital to develop a volunteer base of community leaders and volunteers who are willing to devote the time and energy in order for events and activities to be successful. Recruit committee leaders and allow them to recruit members of their particular committee who are willing to work together for the event or activity. One of the most important challenges to overcome is patience. As a director of a Main Street program, your natural instinct is for things to happen when you think they should happen, but that is definitely not the case. Changes and improvements don’t happen overnight. With your community support and involvement, changes will eventually and slowly occur.

Small, incremental changes make a significant difference. People like to “see” things happen! Nothing is more vibrant than seeing scaffolding in the downtown. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful has Fresh Paint Grants every year, and with volunteers you can change the face of a building in a weekend. Even student volunteers washing windows in the downtown sets a stage. If you have vacant buildings, try to obtain permission to put displays in the windows. Cleaning up grass out of the sidewalks or planting flowers in the downtown are small but refreshing changes. It seems the challenge is always the same – educating the public, making certain that all the City Commissioners are on board (each new election brings new challenges), and, of course, money. You overcome one day at a time, one volunteer at a time, never losing your enthusiasm or your passion. Each new generation and volunteer has to catch that enthusiasm and passion. Staying positive and never giving in to the “naysayers” is imperative.


Creativity and Volunteers Energize a Community Enid 2016 Main Street Community of the Year Winner The Oklahoma Main Street Center provides invaluable training. We learn by the experience and expertise of others, as well as hands-on and in-person learning

Kelly Tompkins Main Street Enid Director

Imagine a community where people are spending time in the heart of their city, enjoying community events, shopping and eating in local stores and restaurants, gathering with friends and family as they visit in community spaces, walking around instead of just driving, and living in a safe and comfortable downtown. What you’re picturing is a modern day Main Street Enid. “Our towns were built around this way of life so we are just finding new ways to do what we used to do,” said Kelly Tompkins, Executive Director of Main Street Enid. “Many factors contribute to Enid being on an upward path, such as at least a million dollars privately reinvested in our historic buildings each year, improvements by the city and the county, the number of people actively working to make our community a fun place to live with many things to do, the cooperation between Main Street Enid, city, county, chamber, CVB and ERDA, and those who shop, dine and enjoy local arts and entertainment!” Tompkins, along with her husband and daughter, have always enjoyed downtown, Enid Lights Up the Plains and First Fridays among other events. They volunteered by taking promotional videos of events and created the Main Street Enid website. Soon that love for downtowns and enjoying the character and uniqueness of communities turned into a full time commitment when she became the Main Street Enid Executive Director. Shop owners in Enid often have roots to the community, like Paula Nightengale co-operator of Park Avenue Thrift who says “This is where we live, where we play, where we serve alongside our friends and fellow citizens. Naturally it would

One of the community’s favorite new events is their Downtown Dogfest. It helps to promote downtown as a dog-friendly place to visit with your furry best friend.

be the place we work, too. Bloom where you are planted, that’s what we say.” Main Street Enid’s uses various events to help drive visitors to the area. “If you could just be in Enid on a weekly basis, you could see first-hand the enthusiasm,” said Nightengale. “From Enid Lights Up the Plains the day after Thanksgiving, to any of the First Friday Events, especially Oktoberfest and Jazz Stroll, to Downtown Dogfest in June, people are everywhere. We are always excited to find out what Main Street Enid is offering up next.” Enid Lights Up the Plains has been the signature event for 23 years, with more than 8,000 residents and visitors kicking off the Christmas season with Santa Claus, wagon rides, food and fireworks. Main Street Enid First Fridays have boosted attendance over the last few year by 10 times and feature live music, extended shopping hours and dining. One of the community favorite events is the new Downtown Dogfest. A few hundred doggies and their humans come downtown to play dog games and have fun, promoting downtown as a dogfriendly place to visit with your furry best friend. Main Street Food for Thought is a micro-grant funding dinner held by Main Street Enid. Each dinner features five project proposals selected to be presented at the event. Each project presenter gets five minutes to tell how their project will have a positive impact on downtown Enid. For $15, everyone gets dinner and a vote, and that money becomes

Visitors to this Enid Main Street holiday event enjoy Christmas lights, live music, food vendors, horse-drawn carriage rides, a visit from Santa Claus, a fireworks finale and parade.

Main Street Enid uses various events to help drive traffic to and bring new traffic to the area.

the grant money awarded to the winning project. With the funds being matched by Park Avenue Thrift and Enid Regional Development Alliance, the grant amounts have been from $2,100 to $5,600 each.

showing photos through time, oldest to most recent and a searchable list of businesses that were in the buildings throughout the years. The website is promoted weekly through social media and is also used as a reference when people ask questions about buildings and previous business owners. Each page allows anyone the ability to add a comment to include historic knowledge or their own personal experience. History is not only what makes each district unique; it is what people are emotionally tied to and connect with. On this website they can do just that.

Successful retail shop owners Riley and Estela Jantzen first moved back to Enid, and went to a First Friday where they fell in love with the downtown area and the efforts the Main Street Enid program was doing to get people downtown. “We knew if we were going to open our shop in Enid, it had to be downtown,“ said Estela Jantzen co-owner of The Felt Bird. “Our downtown has become so vibrant with fun events, murals on buildings and placemaking spots that it’s creating attention and people are noticing downtown. More shops are opening which brings in more people.” Main Street Enid also comes up with creative ideas to use space and add to the quality of life in Enid. One example is the Breezeway Pocket Park, a partnership with the Northwest Oklahoma Association of Realtors, which turned an underused space into a place to gather. The space is in the heart of Enid, surrounded by boutiques, services and restaurants. After putting in new picnic sets, fence panels, benches, painted mini-murals, party lights, and two Little Free Libraries, the Pocket Park was officially opened during a First Friday. Main Street Enid had several boxes, plus electronic files, of historic photos not being shared so they created as a website to collect, preserve and share history and memories. It is arranged by street, block and building. Each building has its own page,

Main Street Enid encourages volunteers and works closely with community members. “You have to foster involvement, create an atmosphere where people and businesses want to be, then promote like crazy,” said Tompkins. “It is a continuous process that will never be finished, but keep making progress and your efforts start to snowball.” Main Street Enid has seen success working with Oklahoma’s Main Street Center. “The Oklahoma Main Street Center provides invaluable training,” said Tompkins. “We learn by the experience and expertise of others, as well as hands-on and in-person learning. The state staff also visits to do architectural and business consultations, which has been very valuable to our merchants and our district.” Learn more about Main Street Enid at


Revitalizing Oklahoma Through Main Street Communities Q&A with Buffy Hughes, New Oklahoma Main Street Center Director

Main Streets are the traditional heart of the community, and the people that live there are making their historic commercial districts more viable and bringing back this traditional heart.

Buffy Hughes, Okla. Main Street Director

You are new to the Main Street team. What is one thing you’d like Main Street communities to know about you?

What are some of the trends currently happening in Oklahoma Main Street communities as well as nationally?

I started just a few months ago and have been excited from day one. I have a strong design background and understand the importance and value of historic building rehabilitation and repurposing. Every time I meet with the directors in our Oklahoma Main Street communities, I can feel their enthusiasm. All of us in the Main Street America Coordinating Program want to help them succeed and thrive.

Building repurposing has long been a primary focus as well as energy efficiency. Many of the office buildings on Main Streets across Oklahoma have been, or are being, renovated with retail and restaurants on the first floor. Currently, there is a growing attention on repurposing the upper floors for residential housing. We are also seeing a recent and exciting increase in young entrepreneurs purchasing and renovating buildings and, in turn, encouraging their friends to open small local shops. Add in the desire for walkable, safe neighborhoods and this helps feed the need for that housing and local shopping.

Each Main Street community is different. What is a common thread you see throughout the program? Each community has its own authentic character, and they capitalize on unique features such as a building, piece of art, or local distinctive culture. Main Streets are the traditional heart of the community, and the people that live there are making their historic commercial districts more viable and bringing back this traditional heart. How does being in the Oklahoma Main Street Program benefit Oklahoma communities? The Main Street Program repurposes abandoned and dilapidated buildings in the community’s downtown. This creates entrepreneurial opportunities which create jobs and enhance each city’s revenue through an increase in sales tax collection. This is an upward lifting cycle. But, even beyond that, they are creating a sense of place that is important for future generations.

Tell us about one exciting project taking place in a Main Street community. Okmulgee Main Street started their project, #OkmulgeeRising, two years ago and watching it unfold has been truly exciting. Private citizens didn’t wait for someone else to “be the change.” They purchased some of the buildings around the square such as the McBrayer and Parkinson buildings, and are turning these spaces into a mix use of businesses/retail on the ground floor with second floor residential lofts. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) purchased three buildings and when completed will house 75 students and include retail and classroom space – all downtown. They could have built on campus but they chose to be part of the #OkmulgeeRising movement. To be there and feel the excitement, and see the buy-in from community members from all walks of life, is truly uplifting and you can’t wait to see what happens next for Okmulgee.

Becoming a Successful Oklahoma Main Street Community The Main Street Approach is an economic development strategy developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980. It incorporates a Four-Point Approach® to economic revitalization consisting of Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality. The Oklahoma Main Street Program began in 1985 and currently serves 35 active programs which includes small and mid-sized communities as well as urban neighborhood programs. Towns are selected through a competitive application process. Each year, in September, the Oklahoma Main Street Center hosts an Application Workshop for prospective communities. At this workshop, the Oklahoma Main Street Center distributes the application form which is due in early January. The newly accepted communities are announced in the spring. Main Street is preservation-based economic development that concentrates on the historic commercial core of a community. The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is, by its very nature, long-term, incremental, and sustainable. Main Street is a process not a project. The goal is the economic revitalization of the commercial district. What makes the Main Street Approach unique is that it: • Is volunteer-driven • Uses a proven organizational structure • Concentrates on downtown commercial districts/ neighborhoods • Emphasizes the importance of historic preservation • Stresses a plan of action developed by volunteers Main Street programs are successful when there is a balanced effort in all four points of the Main Street methodology. Main Street programs use existing assets and develop effective public/private partnerships. The comprehensive effort focuses on quality projects accomplished in a process initiated within the community. In short, it is a self-help effort. Participating programs understand the process is incremental. Main Street programs have seen change of unparalleled proportion in the attitude of the people in the participating communities; in the number of volunteers; in the successful partnerships that have developed and in the investment of local money used in the revitalization effort. These changes have resulted in the emergence of new leadership from within the communities, which will ensure that change is ongoing and sustainable.

Cherokee Main Street Youth volunteers helping out. Volunteers are a vital part of the Main Street Program.

Private reinvestment figures speak volumes about economic impact. Using the Four-Point Main Street Approach®, Oklahoma’s Main Street communities have reported total reinvestment of more than $1.5 billion and more than 17,500 private building projects and public improvements. Nearly 1.3 million volunteer hours have been tracked since recording of this category in 2002. What does it cost to apply? There is no charge to apply to be a possible member of the Oklahoma Main Street Program. Need more information? If you wish to learn more about the process, please feel free to contact the Oklahoma Main Street Center. Main Street would be happy to meet with any interested group (or even two or three people) to show you the difference Main Street can make in your community. It is truly amazing. Contact the Main Street Program for more information at 800-879-6552 or visit


The Main Street of America celebrates in 90th Anniversary Continued from page 1 with vintage cars and family friendly entertainment. Stroud Main Street – One of the newest member of Oklahoma’s Main Street program is home to the renowned Rock Café. Rock Café proprietor Dawn Welch, a long-time promoter of U.S. Route 66 in Oklahoma, is the basis for the animated character Sally Carrera in the Pixar film Cars. Yukon’s Best Main Street Route 66 – Known as the hometown of country superstar Garth Brooks, as well as for its lively annual Oklahoma Czech Festival, Yukon sprang into being in 1891 as a farming community. Its Main Street is marked by the Historic Yukon’s Best Flour sign and includes a variety of retailers and restaurants.

El Reno Main Street – Best known for hosting El Reno’s Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, this Main Street also gets it kicks from the only rail-based trolley in Oklahoma, a fully restored 1924 Brill Motor Car that seats 48 people in heated and air conditioned comfort. Visitors will park and board at Heritage Park, on the grounds of The Burger Day Festival, held in El Reno, is a tribute to the the Canadian County fried onion hamburger, cooked daily in El Reno since the Historical Museum, early 1900’s. and travel through the downtown area where you can enjoy a great meal at one of the unique restaurants or browse among several specialty shops.

Upcoming Events



EDITOR: Kimberly Hickerson, Project Manager

Applications Due: January 13, 2017 Scholarship opportunity for high school seniors. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Weatherization Housing Advisory Council, each year the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies makes available a $1000 college scholarship in memory of Ted Allen and David Walker. Request for application packs may be made at the following address: Ted Allen/David Walker Scholarship ATTN: John Jones KI BOIS Community Action Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 727, Stigler, OK 74462 or call 918-967-3325 CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY Monday-Tuesday, December 26-27, 2016 State Offices Closed NEW YEAR’S DAY Monday, January 2, 2017 State Offices Closed

CONTRIBUTORS: Stefanie Appleton, Kelli Yadon PHOTO CREDITS: Oklahoma Department of Commerce / Main Street Oklahoma Department of Tourism / Lori Duckworth Main Street Enid / Erin Haney Photography El Reno Burger Day / Lacey Elaine Tackett FOR NEW PIONEER SUBMISSIONS AND STORY IDEAS CONTACT: Kimberly Hickerson Editor-in-Chief - New Pioneer Oklahoma Department of Commerce 900 N. Stiles Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (405) 815-5240 @OKcommerce

Issue 12 2016  

A Special Main Street Edition: The Main Street of America Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary, Making a Difference the Main Street Way, Creativi...

Issue 12 2016  

A Special Main Street Edition: The Main Street of America Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary, Making a Difference the Main Street Way, Creativi...