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National Trust Launches New Main Street Subsidiary to Expand Preservation-based Economic Development efforts in America’s historic downtowns

January 18, 2013

Washington, DC -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the launch of a new subsidiary —The National Main Street Center, Inc.— as the next step for the Trust’s successful 33-year old National Main Street program, and has named Barbara G. Sidway of Baker City, OR, and Palm Beach, FL, as the first chair of the subsidiary’s Board of Directors.  The Main Street program, which uses historic preservation as a tool for economic development in downtown and neighborhood commercial districts, has been active in the revitalization of more than 2,000 communities since its inception in 1980.

Over the past 33 years, the Main Street program has resulted in $54 billion in investment, the rehabilitation of more than 229,000 buildings, and the creation of 450,000 jobs in those cities and towns. Officials at the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development have cited the National Trust’s Main Street program as one of the most successful economic development strategies in the United States.

 “We are pleased to support the launch of the new Main Street subsidiary to grow and broaden the impact of one of the country’s most effective, grass-roots, preservation and jobs programs,” said National Trust president Stephanie Meeks. “With her strong track record in economic development and community revitalization as a developer, hotelier, and civic volunteer, Barbara Sidway brings the skills we need to lead this new subsidiary and expand the National Main Street Center. As a co-founder of the Oregon Main Street program, Barbara has been a strong and consistent champion for Main Street in her community, at the state level, and nationally.”

Ms Sidway is a private developer who restores and manages historic properties in partnership with her husband, Dwight. Award-winning projects include the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Ore., and Miami’s Freedom Tower.

The decision to establish a subsidiary was made after a year-long study to determine how best to support and expand the Center’s reach. With a separate board of directors focused on the opportunities for Main Street, yet working under the umbrella of the National Trust, the Main Street Center will be able to draw upon new leaders and resources while keeping preservation as a core tenant of the program. This comes at a time when traditional government funding for community revitalization is under pressure, yet many historic downtowns and commercial districts are experiencing a revival as younger residents are seeking authentic experiences in the places where they work, shop, live, and play.

One of the first tasks of the new board will be the selection of a CEO to direct the subsidiary.  “We are eager to identify the strong leadership needed at the staff level to help us shape an expanded and strengthened Main Street program,” said Ms Sidway. “We are looking for an individual who understands the community revitalization field where Main Street has been an important player over the past three decades as well as a strong leader who possesses the communication and networking skills required to launch a new venture.”

In addition to Ms Sidway, the initial board of the National Main Street Center, Inc. includes Sam Dixon, an attorney and preservationist from Edenton, N.C.; Joe Grills of Rapidan, Va., past chairman of the Montpelier Foundation, a member of the boards of Woodberry Forest School and Kimco Realty, a member of a number of investment organizations, and a trustee of the National Trust; Beppie LeGrand of Columbia, S.C. (ex officio), Main Street Coordinator for South Carolina; preservation consultant Mary Thompson of Olympia, Wash., a former Main Street Center staff member, former Washington State Historic Preservation Officer, and a member of the National Trust Board of Trustees; and David J. Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation of Washington, D.C., who serves as the Trust’s representative on the board.

Contact Malcolm Johnstone



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