BIG CHANGES are coming to the city of Decherd. The city was among 10 communities recently chosen to participate in the Tennessee Downtowns program.
Other communities chosen included Alexandria, Copperhill, Cumberland Gap, Loretto, Newbern, Oneida, Rossville, Tellico Plains, and Waverly.
According to a release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TDECD), the program helps local communities revitalize traditional commercial districts, enhance community livability, spur job creation, and maintain the historic character of downtown districts. The two-year program coaches selected communities and their steering committees through the steps of launching effective renewal efforts. Tennessee Downtowns includes community training in the Main Street America program and a $15,000 grant for a downtown improvement project.
The TDECD release also stated that the 10 newly selected communities all have downtown commercial districts established at least 50 years ago and have demonstrated their readiness to organize efforts for downtown revitalization according to Main Street America principles.
The TDECD stated that the selection process was based on historic commercial resources, economic and physical need, demonstrated local effort, overall presentation and probability of success.
Mayor Michael Gillespie said the city is excited for this opportunity to revitalize the city’s historic and beloved downtown. “It is a two-year program similar to what Winchester has done in the past, where the state will help us come up with a plan that will help revitalize the downtown area,” he explained. “A lot of people know our downtown area has gone through a lot, however, there are some people who are pioneering down there. We’ve got a couple of great shops. We’re really excited about this happening.”
Gillespie also stated that being chosen to participate is vital to a success in the downtown area of Decherd.
“It is not only important to me, but I also think it’s important to the citizens of Decherd,” he said. “Because any kind of growth that anybody tries to do, whether on Decherd Boulevard or downtown Decherd; without a viable downtown area, most businesses don’t want to invest. So having a viable downtown area that people come to, or draw them there, is important. It is also something that attracts other businesses to the community, whether they’re downtown or on Decherd Boulevard.”
He added that the revitalization will also help to secure the historic buildings of downtown.
“It is very important for the community that we have a viable downtown because [of] it’s historic significance,” said Gillespie. “There are some buildings down there that are over 100 years old. We would like to see them renovated, brought back to life, and to have some viable businesses in them that are going to attract the public.” GN