Tillamook hosted the 2019 Oregon Main Street Conference Oct. 2-4, an event to inspire connections between people, places, and partners to get work done in Oregon’s downtowns.
Conference participants left with strategies and tools to spur on revitalization efforts in the Main Street district. They also celebrated the accomplishments of Oregon Main Street communities at the Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Awards on Oct. 2.
“Tillamook has really grown and developed since I last spent time there; I enjoyed shopping, dining, and walking around town,” said Susy Lacer, Grant Professional Certified. “I loved the refreshments during the session breaks – the scones/brownies from Sarasota’s and coffee from Five Rivers were delicious.”
Lacer and her husband spent about $389 at local businesses while in town. They arrived Wednesday, Oct. 2, and left Friday, Oct. 4, at noon.
The conference ended the events with a closing plenary that was held Oct. 4 at the Coliseum Theater in Tillamook. Representatives from Oregon Main Street Network Communities gave 5-minute success stories they had in their efforts to revitalize their downtowns.
“The theater was wonderful, especially with the assistance by Scott Casey to ensure lighting, sound, and projection worked in the space,” said Sheri Stewart, Oregon Main Street Director.
One of the success stories was told by Sierra Lauder, formerly of the Tillamook Main Street program. Lauder talked about the highway being closed in 2016 on Pacific Avenue for construction. Fall 2017 was the tear up of Pacific Avenue. A local storeowner, Natalie, who owned Sunflower Flats, was told to board up its windows.
Sunflower Flats was on one of the busiest corners of Tillamook.
Natalie got colorful paint and wrote the store’s phone number on the boards and that they were open. People were able to call and order flowers. Along with Lauder, they made it a Facebook live event that showed 10 minutes of them putting up the boards. They got over 7,000 views of their video.
“The population of Tillamook is 5,000 people,” Lauder said.
They also talked about where to park in every post. The construction went on for 15 months. The bulk of the work was during the slow times of the day to keep traffic as open as possible.
Julie Culjiak, from the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance (MFDA), presented on behalf of Mark Driver.
“This alliance creates the opportunity for citizens to invest in their community,” Culjiak said.
Culjiak spoke about MFDA’s recent project, “$10 For My Town”, which asks each citizen to contribute $10 to help complete their mission, which includes a public market in Freewater, creates pop-up retail shops in the Business District, downtown music and concerts, and free movie nights. Culjiak has put brochures in her own store and has also handed them out at events. Since June of this year, $5,000.25 has been raised.
The MFDA is currently looking for a permanent market place.
Susie, from Roseburg, spoke about the success of the Blue Zones Project. This project provided fresh produce, vegan, and vegetarian choices to Roseburg’s Downtown Market and Deli. Susie said this healthier choice didn’t cost a lot of money. Eagles Park is across the street, driving more traffic to the store.
The market is the largest convenience store in Roseburg, with 25 doors of refrigeration and the largest selection. Blue Zones Project worked with the owner, Jit Singh, to identify the range of healthy items the store already carries and to feature them more prominently at the store’s entrance. The new signage and layout provided by Blue Zones Project prompts customers toward healthy items.
“Downtowns truly are the hearts of our communities,” said Wyatt King, Marketing Director of Safeco Insurance in Lebanon, Oregon.
King said a strong downtown supports a strong community. If downtowns are thriving, our communities are thriving.
“It was well run, nice venue, great snacks, overall great logistics,” said an attendee of the event, Steve Stayton.
Stewart, Oregon Main Street Director, is thankful to the Tillamook Chamber of Commerce board for being a local partner in this year’s conference.
“One of the things we think you did was demonstrate that one of our smaller network communities can host an event of this type – you inspired others to approach us about hosting a future conference,” Stewart told the Chamber.