Laurens Main Street hosts Finally Friday, national representatives

While Main Street Laurens has been busy this summer with the Downtown Farmers Market and its Finally Friday! summer series, its pivotal role is economic development of the historic district and its acceptance for a pilot program in South Carolina will help that happen in Laurens.

There are two more Finally Fridays this summer, and the July session starts off from 6 to 9 p.m. this week, Friday, July 26, with children’s bicycle safety classes offered by the Laurens Police Department, free watermelon slices and music by Wide Open D.J.

But Main Street Laurens is about much more than bringing potential customers to the downtown and its director and volunteers are always looking for more options to develop downtown business.

In the Transformation Strategies program, market data derived from many sources is used along with  expressed community needs to best determine which businesses are needed in this particular community, and which would be most likely to attract visitors from outside the community.

“National Main Street unveiled this approach two years ago,” said Main Street Laurens Director Jonathan Irick, “and my question at meetings has always been, ‘How do we gather all that data and implement these things locally?’ So I’m excited about this because it meets a real need for smaller Main Streets programs like ours.”

The program will be funded in part through Main Street Laurens and through Main Street South Carolina, which is headed by Jenny Boulware, Manager of Main Street South Carolina.

“Main Street Laurens is an advanced local program with strong leadership and momentum,” Boulware said. “It is fitting that they pilot this launch in South Carolina.”

Boulware and representatives from the Main Street America headquarters in Chicago will be in Laurens for a public community meeting Wednesday evening, Aug. 14. They will also hold training meetings with the Main Street Board of directors on Aug. 15.

“We always budget money for board training and training for me, so we are using the funds for board training to go toward this program,” Irick said. “They will help us take all this information and proposed strategies and develop a work plan. Then they will follow up to find out where we are.”

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