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2005 - First Lady's Award - Oklahoma Main Street Program

The Oklahoma Main Street Program has just marked its 20th year of assisting and guiding dozens of towns throughout the state to achieve economic revitalization of their commercial districts. The volunteer-driven plan applies a solid four-point approach of organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring.

A testament to its success is the fact that of 62 towns selected to be part of the Oklahoma Main Street network and guaranteed a minimum three-year commitment, two-thirds of them remain active. In fact, a third of the towns have been part of the network for at least 10 years.

The more obvious testament, however, is visible at the core of towns of all sizes in every part of the state. Public improvement projects, interior design projects, façade renovations, innovative design with historic buildings and even classic signage all attract the eye as strongly as they reflect a stronger heartbeat in downtown areas.

Oklahoma Main Street’s services include committee training in the areas of volunteer development, promotion, organization, vision, work plan development, interior design consultations and reinvestment reports.

The services are augmented with useful products and design assistance, ranging from design publications, the Design Works program and energy grants to coloring books, posters and newsletters. A confident professional gloss adorns its print materials, assuring recipients that they are dealing with knowledgeable experts.

With an approach that is volunteer-driven and plans-of-action that are developed by volunteers under a proven organizational structure and focus, the Main Street program is successfully able to implement historic preservation. The effective public/private partnerships that are developed pave the way for quality projects that are initiated within the community.

Oklahoma’s Main Street communities have experienced a stunning positive economic impact. They’ve reported private reinvestment of $330 million and public and private reinvestment of more than $428 million.

It could be argued that no other nonprofit organization has changed the look and outlook of so many towns in Oklahoma in so many lasting ways. First Lady Kim Henry and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful not only buy that argument; we enthusiastically embrace it and recognize it with our 2005 First Lady’s Award for environmental excellence.

They’ve said it themselves in a brochure: “ Old buildings collapse just once. Small towns die just once. We keep Oklahoma’s main Streets in business forever.” And THAT is very good news for Oklahoma.