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Downtown Oregon City Association named winner of 2018 Great American Main Street Award

March 27, 2018

Downtown Oregon City Association (DOCA), an Oregon Main Street Network participant, is one of the three winners of the 2018 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) presented by National Main Street Center Inc., the country's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to commercial district revitalization. Selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, the award winners serve as exceptional models for comprehensive, preservation-based commercial district revitalization.

The association was recognized for its role in harnessing the community's entrepreneurial spirit to stimulate the local economy and drive investment in their downtown. The awards were made possible through support from U.S. Bank and were announced and presented at the 2018 Main Street Now Conference in Kansas City on March 26, 2018.

"Oregon City wowed our jury this year," said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center. "From the natural splendor of its surroundings, to its fascinating history, to the cluster of dynamic downtown businesses, Oregon City is a special community made even more impressive by the efforts of the Downtown Oregon City Association."

Oregon City, known as the first incorporated city in the American West and the official end of the Oregon Trail, has undergone an inspiring revival. The town's evolution -- from pioneer's oasis in the 19th century, to industrial center in the 20th century, to the dynamic cultural destination residents and visitors enjoy today -- is a testament to a deeply-rooted local entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to continuous growth.

This transformation has occurred in the face of hardships that are an all too familiar story in once-thriving industrial towns, including the closing of one of the town's major employers, a disruptive streetscape project, and the departure of county administrative offices. Over the last decade, under the auspices of DOCA, the city has seen nearly $42 million invested in the downtown district's buildings, streetscapes, and infrastructure, in addition to over two-dozen new business openings and close to 900 net new jobs.

"Once a district filled with taverns catering to a now-defunct paper mill, Downtown Oregon City is now an emerging and vibrant destination. It is a transformation that began with catalytic investments in the streetscape and facade grant programs which have attracted a diverse group of independent businesses," said Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of the Downtown Oregon City Association.

A city of "firsts," Oregon City is home to 90 percent first-time owner or family-operated businesses. DOCA helps foster this entrepreneurial spirit by strategically recruiting new potential businesses and providing close support to existing businesses to help them thrive. Visitors and residents enjoy the fruits of this labor at a number of unique local outposts, including seven local breweries and cideries, an award-winning bakery, and a fifth-generation family-owned fish shop.

"It has been my pleasure to work with DOCA since 2009. I have worked with hundreds of main street communities in 24 states over the 27 years at the state, local, and national level," said Sheri Stuart, coordinator of Oregon Main Street, "The transformation of their downtown in a relatively short amount of time is nothing short of amazing, especially since their revitalization efforts began at the start of the economic downturn."

About the Oregon Main Street Network
Oregon Main Street is part of Heritage Programs in Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and is a designated coordinating program member of the National Main Street Center. Oregon Main Street provides assistance to all communities whether they are just beginning to explore options for their downtown or are seeking recognition as an accredited Main Street(R) town. Between 2010 and 2017, communities participating at the Performing Main Street and Transforming Downtown levels -- the two highest levels in the OMS Network -- saw an increase of 647 net new businesses, 3,367 net new jobs, 1,258 private sector building improvement projects representing $97,218,322 of private sector reinvestment.

About the National Main Street Center
The National Main Street Center has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts since 1980. Today's network consists of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, collectively known as Main Street America, which share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About the Great American Main Street Awards
Each year, Main Street America, a program of the National Main Street Center, celebrates the country's best examples of comprehensive commercial district revitalization. Winners are selected from a nationwide pool of applicants by a national jury based on successful and innovative uses of the Main Street Approach(R). Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach(R). The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.