Athens Main Street working to bring more businesses, events, visitors downtown

ATHENS, Ala. - City leaders always seek ways to attract economic development, and to do that, they say you have to attract the people.

Athens Main Street is working alongside the city to get more residents and visitors downtown.

Executive Director Melanie Newton says they work alongside the city to improve the district's attractiveness, for example, the streetscape.

The organization is working to do what the city does best: moving forward while preserving its history.

"We have a really old home that recently sold that will become the Horton Bed and Breakfast," said Newton. "We also have a farm-to-table restaurant coming in a 1927 building that's being completely restored."

In addition to pushing for new businesses, Main Street ties them to family friendly events, like Fridays After Five, starting July 14.

"We will feature live much around the square, all our restaurants and merchants will be providing discounts," explained Newton.

She also mentioned Optimal Geo, a geographical information systems company that moved downtown and brought 35 jobs.

Plus, an upcoming effort that gives you reason to get downtown and sit.

"It's called 'Sit a Spell on our Front Porch' to encourage people to linger longer and stay downtown longer," said Newton.

The city won a grant after matching $1,500 through crowdfunding. Soon, you'll see exterior-grade rocking chairs about downtown, painted according to themes tied to downtown events like one of their biggest fundraisers, and celebration of all things fried: the Grease Festival.

Residents and visitors can also look forward to the Athens Saturday market at Green Street Farmers Market Pavilion; that takes place every Saturday with local produce, and it's nationally certified.

"We can be a family friendly environment but we can appeal to a diversity of population and have something for everyone," said Newton.

Main Street is funded through private and public funds, and invite businesses not only to move to Athens, but to get involved in Main Street. The same goes for volunteers.

For more information, contact Melanie Newton at 256-232-9040 or melanie@athensmainstreet.org.

You can also visit their website, or their Facebook or Twitter.