With a new manager and advisory board, Main Street Gainesville officials say the midtown and downtown Gainesville areas are now able to reach full potential.
Angela McFarlin Thompson started work about three weeks ago as Main Street manager.
“Main Street has four points — we have design, organization, promotion and economic revitalization,” Thompson said. “And basically it just means whatever we can do to get people to spend money downtown and shop and eat downtown and be downtown — that is the objective of everything.”
Now that Main Street Gainesville is operated by the city, Thompson said that goal will be easier
“There is no need for a liaison between Main Street and the city because I am that now,” she said. “I am directly working with everyone.”
The new Main Street advisory board — which includes chairwoman Debra Harkrider, a downtown building owner; vice chairman Scott Dixon, a downtown business owner; and secretary treasurer Gladys Wyant, executive director of the Arts Council — will help plan events and provide direction for Main Street Gainesville.
“I think our new focus this year is to brand the downtown,” Harkrider said. “A lot of young (people) ... are looking for some place to go and sit outside and have an adult beverage and have a nice meal and then have some place to go with a band. I think what we are trying to do is cover all the things that someone might want.”
Earlier this month, Main Street members attended a conference to discover ideas and events that could benefit Gainesville.
“We’ll be talking with other communities and see what other kinds of events have worked well for them that maybe we could start doing here,” Harkrider said. “I know we want to do a music fest, and I believe we are still going to have a bike race like we have done before in May.”
Other events that will be on the square soon will be the Old Friends Car Club show on April 17 and the Spring Chicken Festival on April 24.
Thompson added that downtown living would add another level of interest to the downtown area.
“I see the future of Main Street Gainesville as ... bringing a living community downtown because then when you have that you have so many more economic opportunities downtown,” she said.
Thompson said she hit the ground running meeting business owners in the downtown area.
“My game plan is to go and meet people face-to-face,” she said. “It really seems like people really like face-to-face interaction. ... I like it that way too; I like to know the people I am working with.”
And Thompson has had plenty of people to meet as new businesses have made their way downtown.
Vicki Moore of Rahab’s Rope moved her business to the square in May because she said it was a great location to attract new patrons into her store, whose profits benefit women in India.
“We really had always wanted to be on the square but starting out just really didn’t think we could afford it, and then this position came open,” Moore said. “With all the business that is around the square — the courthouse, the banks — there’s so many people and everybody walks down here to eat lunch.”
Added Catiel Felts, communications and tourism director for the Gainesville, “We want to see businesses downtown, we want to see the people who live in the city of Gainesville and surrounding communities of Hall County and the people who come here from all over Northeast Georgia. We want them to have as much to choose from as possible, so the more we have to choose from the better positioned we are to bring in business from outside of our city.”