Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe made the announcement.
“We are very pleased that we were selected, and we look forward to investing this money in our community,” said Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings. “This should be a real boost to our downtown area.”
Other communities selected included Alamo, Bell Buckle, Clinton, Dresden, Huntingdon, Jasper, Lexington, Lynnville, Newport, Trenton and Tullahoma.
“I want to congratulate the 12 communities on being selected to participate in the Tennessee Downtowns program,” Rolfe said. “Each community in this program is taking steps to enhance its downtown district, which not only promotes retail and tourism but also encourages economic growth. I look forward to seeing these communities continue to succeed in our state through the assistance of this program.”
Since 2010, 58 Tennessee communities have participated in the program to assist local officials and volunteers seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts. Tennessee Downtowns communities work through groups of local citizens who participate in a two-year program supported by the National Main Street Center. Watertown will also receive a $15,000 grant to complete a downtown improvement project.
“We’re excited to welcome 12 new communities into the Tennessee Downtowns program and look forward to working with them on their downtown revitalization goals,” said Main Street Program director Nancy Williams.
Watertown and the other newly selected communities have downtown commercial districts established at least 50 years ago and have demonstrated their readiness to organize efforts for downtown revitalization based on the successful “Main Street Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalization.” The highly competitive selection process was based on historic commercial resources, economic and physical need, demonstrated local effort, overall presentation and probability of success.
Main Street revitalization is a comprehensive, incremental, self-help economic strategy that also focuses on developing public-private partnerships to enhance community livability and job creation, while maintaining the historic character of the district. Main Street and Tennessee Downtowns communities are eligible to participate in commercial façade grant programs and Main Streets are eligible for entrepreneur grants.
There are currently 35 nationally-accredited Tennessee Main Street communities, including Athens, Bolivar, Bristol, Brownsville, Cleveland, Collierville, Columbia, Cookeville, Dayton, Dyersburg, Fayetteville, Franklin, Gallatin, Greeneville, Jackson, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Kingsport, Lawrenceburg, Lebanon, Maryville, McKenzie, McMinnville, Morristown, Murfreesboro, Paris, Pulaski, Ripley, Rogersville, Savannah, Sevierville, Sweetwater, Tiptonville, Union City and Winchester.
Watertown’s application was supported by state Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, in the Tennessee General Assembly.