Independent We Stand picks a winner
Independent We Stand recognized MainStreet DeLand in DeLand, Fla., as the $25,000 winner of “America’s Main Streets” contest. As a top 10 finalist, Deland — population 27,031 — stood out among its fellow Main Streets after more than 300,000 total votes were cast by the public nationwide during the “America’s Main Streets” contest, according to the group.
The MainStreet DeLand Association formed in 1985, transforming a rundown, abandoned district with a more than 50% vacancy rate, to a thriving downtown area now at near 100% capacity. The association dedicates itself to continued downtown economic development while promoting and preserving DeLand’s historic roots.
“Established Main Street organizations like the one in DeLand, with strong support from their community and independent businesses, fall right in line with the mission of Independent We Stand,” said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “We can’t wait to see how MainStreet DeLand Association utilizes this prize and how it will impact independent businesses and the people who support them.”
DeLand is also noteworthy as the first city in Florida to have electricity. It’s a city of firsts with a downtown area boasting dozens of independent restaurants, galleries and shops, and no big-box chains.
“For two or three — or even four or five years — we are going to benefit from winning this contest, and maybe even longer. It will bring us recognition we couldn’t put a price tag on,” said Wayne Carter, executive director of MainStreet DeLand Association. “When you come to DeLand you are going to get great food and find unique clothing, gifts and specialty items you can’t get at a big-box store.”
As part of its ongoing mission to promote small businesses, Independent We Stand created the “America’s Main Streets” contest to promote the important role Main Streets play in building economic success for their communities.
The 2017 semifinalists in alphabetical order are:
- Bridge Street — Ashtabula, Ohio
- Brookhaven Main Street — Brookhaven, Miss.
- Downtown Lee's Summit — Lee's Summit, Mo.
- Downtown Main Street — Red Wing, Minn.
- Downtown Rochester — Rochester, Mich.
- Elizabeth City Downtown — Elizabeth City, N.C.
- Hayward Main Street — Hayward, Wis.
- Historic Downtown McKinney — McKinney, Texas
- MainStreet DeLand — DeLand, Fla.
- St. John Front Street — St. John, Wash.
Stihl Inc. is the presenting sponsor of the award. Supporting sponsors are: Alignable, Do it Best Corp. NRHA, PPG Pittsburgh Paints and SnapRetail.
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