Newark, Delaware wins Main Street award

To take a stroll in downtown Newark, Delaware, is to walk along one of America’s best main streets, according to the results of a nationwide contest.

The Downtown Newark Partnership has been named a winner of the 2011 Great American Main Street Awards, which recognizes exemplary downtowns and commercial districts.

Gov. Jack Markell joined local officials in his hometown of Newark to celebrate.

“This city has one of the best main streets in the country,” Markell said. “So many great people and businesses help to make Newark what it is – a great place to live, work and visit.”

The National Trust Main Street Center’s annual Great American Main Street Award is based on criteria such as the amount of active public and private sector involvement in the town to the quality of its long-term achievements. The award takes into account a town’s commitment to historic preservation, its ability to foster small business development, and its evolving track record of successful commercial district revitalization. It also considers the level of community support a town receives for its revitalization efforts, as well as the economic impact of those efforts.

In the last three and a half years, 26 new businesses and more than $30 million has been invested in downtown Newark, home of the University of Delaware. The city’s mayor calls it a “renaissance.”

“It has been great building all these new buildings, preserving old ones, and bringing the residents back to Main Street,” said Mayor Vance Funk. “The level of cooperation is just phenomenal.  Everyone loves to be involved in this.”

The other four winners include Downtown Beloit Association, Beloit, WI.; Main Street Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce, FL.; Old Town Main Street, Lansing, MI.; and Silver City Main Street Project, Silver City, NM.

The winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, and governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation.

Delaware has produced two winners of this national award in the past three years. Rehoboth Beach Main Street was a winner in 2009.

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