More than $1 billion invested in community development


BIRMINGHAM — Main Street Alabama, a pioneer in community revitalization, announced its 10th anniversary of making a transformative impact on local economies.
The organization’s Main Street Approach, which leverages resources to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, has not only breathed new life into communities but also become a beacon of success and community pride.
Over the last decade, Alabama’s Main Street districts have seen a substantial positive change, with small businesses flourishing and local governments investing in improving streets, sidewalks and public art. The once-quiet districts are now lively and at the center of their communities, making investors more confident in their potential.
Within Main Street Alabama’s $1 billion success story, a few key findings stood out:

  1. Over $1 billion Invested: Main Street Alabama has catalyzed both private and public investments exceeding $1 billion in the state’s Main Street districts since 2014.
  2. Job Creation and Income Boost: Property improvement projects in Main Street districts have generated nearly 6,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, contributing to an annual labor income of $297 million. Public investment, on the other hand, has resulted in more than 1,800 jobs and over $95 million in annual labor income.
  3. Tax Revenue Boost: Property investments in Main Street areas have injected $35 million in taxes into Alabama’s state and local governments over the last decade.
  4. Confidence in Main Street Survival: An impressive $225 million has been invested in the acquisition of Main Street properties, signaling a resounding vote of confidence in the longevity and vibrancy of Main Streets across Alabama.
  5. Thriving Business Landscape: More than 1,200 net new businesses now call Main Street districts home, with a better open/close ratio compared to both state and national patterns.
  6. Sales Tax Contribution: A conservative estimate places the sales tax paid in 2023 by net new businesses in Alabama Main Street communities at over $18 million.
  7. Job Growth: Main Street Alabama’s communities have reported a cumulative total of over 4,530 net new jobs.
  8. Volunteerism: Between 2014 and 2023, Main Street volunteers dedicated approximately 177,322 hours, reflecting a cumulative value of over $4.4 million in donated time and services to their communities.
    “For the past decade, we have watched our Main Street programs grow and thrive, impacting communities all across the state,” said Mary Helmer Wirth, state coordinator of Main Street Alabama. “And now, we have the numbers to prove it.
    “The 10 Year Economic Impact Report from PlaceEconomics tells a powerful story of success and growth, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Main Street directors, board and committee members and countless volunteers,” Wirth said. “We are truly in awe of the impact that has been made, and we can’t wait to see what the next 10 years have in store.”
    Locally, the Opelika Main Street “plays a key role in making things happen downtown,” according to Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.
    Opelika’s Main Street program began in 1987, according to the organization’s website. The program’s achievements include:
  • Prevented the demolition of the historic Opelika Depot,
  • Launched the Bill Roberts Facade Enhancement Program,
  • Coordinated the Opelika Forward COVID-19 Recovery Program,
  • Partnered with Keep Opelika Beautiful to restore the Breezeway outdoor space and Kilgore Pocket Park,
  • Constructed Courthouse Square,
  • Coordinated the installation of a downtown way finding signage system,
  • Installed over 30 planters downtown, and
  • Opened new Main Street office with a a retail incubator space in front and three public bathrooms.
    Opelika Main Street’s signature events driving foot traffic downtown include the annual Holiday Open House, Christmas in a Railroad Town, Small Business Saturday, On the Tracks wine trail, Touch a Truck, Opelika High School’s downtown pep rally preceding the annual football game against Auburn High and the On Tap craft beer festival.
    Opelika Main Street manages the Industry On Track sculpture art exhibit and helps commission mural art downtown.
    Opelika Main Street provides small business and marketing assistance programs, promotes historic preservation, and maintains a supply closet with folding chairs, tables, table clothes, signage, hand sanitizer stations, traffic cones, stanchions and more, available on a first-come-first-serve basis for downtown member businesses.