HANFORD — For the 17th year in a row, Main Street Hanford has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.

“It’s no easy task,” said Shelly Johnson, executive director of Main Street Hanford. “It takes a lot of work to reach our goals for the entire year.”

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.

“It is a great honor to recognize this year’s 828 nationally accredited Main Street America programs for their outstanding work to transform downtown and neighborhood commercial districts,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center.

Main Street Hanford is the coordinator for the continued revitalization of downtown Hanford. The downtown district includes over 300 businesses with a variety of restored historic buildings, locally owned retail shops and restaurants.

In order to stay accredited, Johnson said Main Street Hanford needs to meet certain qualifications throughout the year. The qualifications include having full-time employees, putting on a certain number of events, providing services to local business and keeping track of business openings and closings.

The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by California Main Street Alliance which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet the performance standards.

Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

“Main Streets are the heart of our communities, and the work they do to create quality public spaces, catalyze local entrepreneurship, and support downtown housing is more important than ever,” Frey said. “Across the country, Main Street America programs truly strengthen the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their entire communities.”

Johnson said it takes a lot of effort to maintain the accreditation, especially from employees, business owners, volunteers and the board of directors. In fact, she said Hanford is the only Main Street organization accredited in the entire Central Valley.

Steve Banister, board president and owner of L. T. Sue Co. Tea Room, agreed that hard work does go into staying accredited, but having the knowledge to educate business owners and visitors is the goal of everything Main Street Hanford does.

“This proves that we’re on the right track,” Banister said, adding having the accreditation validates all the work they do.

Johnson said it’s “awesome” to be accredited and associated with the National Main Street Center. She said she hopes to continue the great feeling and positive energy Main Street Hanford has had flowing recently.

“This past year has been an exciting year in downtown Hanford,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen new businesses open and an increase of private reinvestment in the downtown area. We are excited to see what the future holds for the heart of our city.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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