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012718-han-loc-mainstreet-michellebrown

Michelle Brown is the new executive director of Main Street Hanford.

HANFORD — Imagine walking down the street hearing music spilling out of the restaurants, seeing people enjoying the town and the shops and living in a full and vibrant community.

That is what Michelle Brown, the new executive director of Main Street Hanford, envisions for downtown Hanford.

Born and raised in Hanford, Brown remembers in 2004 when a full and vibrant downtown was more than a happy idea.

It was the reality. She worked in the Opera House, which had no vacancies, and she remembers walking down the street hearing the music and seeing people enjoying downtown.

“Growing up in Hanford, my roots are here and downtown Hanford has been the backdrop of many of my childhood memories,” Brown said. “I have lived and worked in downtown Hanford and will always serve as an enthusiastic advocate.”

Brown said that this year she wants her organization to focus on the economic vitality aspect of downtown Hanford. Economic vitality is one of the four points of Main Street America’s roadmap to revitalization. Main Street Hanford is part of the nationwide program Main Street America.

Brown recognizes that her organization is not able to drive the economic development in downtown, but said she wants to help promote and advocate for the existing and potential businesses. Brown seemed hopeful for the future of small businesses in Hanford. “It is hard to be a small business owner, but I feel that we are on a brink of things changing,” Brown said.

Monday, Main Street Hanford held a “Transform Downtown Hanford” meeting, providing a platform to discuss revitalizing downtown and whether direct public offerings, in which the community can invest in the town, are a good option.

Brown said she wants there to be a focus on building a strong community.

Members of the Main Street Hanford board are positive in the appointment of Brown.

“I have been involved with Main Street Hanford since its beginning in 2000,” Jim Castleman, board secretary, said. “Michelle is a great fit and I know she has what it takes to make our downtown a vibrant destination.”

Initially, Main Street hired Brown as the office manager in 2016. She has served as interim director since December 2017.

“Her actions and management skills as interim director speak volumes,” Steve Banister, board president, said. “She will be a great fit for the ‘Refreshed Approach’ Main Street Hanford has been seeking.”

The four points in Main Street America’s approach to revitalization are economic vitality, organization, promotion and design. Brown said the organization here in Hanford has done a good job with promotion.

“I absolutely love my job and I am grateful to be chosen as executive director,” Brown added. “I have a strong board of directors and together we will do big things.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or chelsea.shannon@lee.net

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