The Rawlins Downtown Development Authority/Main Street program was selected as a semifinalist for the Great American Main Street Award.
Rawlins is one of 10 semifinalists vying for the award. Five communities from around the country will be chosen as recipients of the award on May 18 at the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit, Mich. This is the first time a Wyoming Main Street community has been selected. No community from the Rocky Mountain Region has previously won the Great American Main Street Award.
“If any Main Street community deserves this award it is Rawlins, Wyoming,” said Mary Randolph, executive director of the Wyoming Main Street program. “They have taken the Main Street approach and made it work for their community. You see their success in new businesses, job creation, the volunteers committed to downtown and in the near future a complete new physical look for the downtown. Rawlins DDA/Main Street has been entrepreneurial in their approach to downtown revitalization and preserving the unique history of their district.”
Rawlins was chosen based on several criteria that included the overall strength of the Main Street program in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; a demonstrated success of the Main Street Four-Point Approach in the community with a focus on economic impacts; a commitment to historic preservation; active involvement of the public and private sectors; and the participation of multiple groups, entities and individuals who have been involved in making the Main Street a great place.
Pam Thayer, executive director of the Rawlins DDA/Main Street program, said the community has worked hard the past several years to make improvements to its downtown. Some of the accomplishments include a drop in the downtown’s building vacancy rate from 45 percent to 10 percent; nearly 25,000 volunteer hours in the program since its inception in 2006, which equals an in-kind contribution to the program of $523,807; and 55 private and public rehabilitation projects completed. The total dollars reinvested in the downtown district since 2008 is about $7.2 million; and for every dollar the Rawlins DDA/Main Street incurred in costs there was a return of $9.56 returned to the downtown district.
“Rawlins DDA/Main Street is very excited that we have been selected as one of the 10 Semifinalists for the Great American Main Street Award,” said Charlotte Newell, chair of the Rawlins DDA/Main Street Board of Directors. “This honor is due to our dedicated volunteers, great staff and the support of the community. We are committed to fostering a sustainable, revitalized, and vibrant historic downtown that creates an economic environment while enhancing the quality of life for our community. All of us are anxiously waiting to hear if we make the final five.”
A seven-member jury comprised of nationally recognized Main Street specialists determined the list of semifinalists. Twenty communities submitted applications for the award. The other semifinalists include: Beaufort, S.C.; Bedford, Pa.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Grand Haven, Mich.; Harrisonburg, Va.; Middlesborough, Ky.; Milledgeville, Ga.; Pontiac, Ill.; and Woodbine, Iowa.