DCA in running for Great American Main Street award

Downtown Camas organization 1 of 8 semifinalists in national competition

The Downtown Camas Association (DCA) is in the running for Main Street America’s 2024 Great American Main Street award.

In a news release announcing the semifinalists, DCA staff said the award “is the nation’s top award recognizing communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservation-based commercial district revitalization.”

Main Street America’s chief program officer, Matt Wagner, added that the award is “the highest honor” granted to organizations within the national group’s network.

The DCA is one of eight organizations recognized for outstanding downtown revitalization efforts and Wagner said all eight of the semifinalists have “incredible accomplishments in transforming their downtowns through innovative programs strategically designed to preserve their unique heritage, foster economic vitality and create a welcoming atmosphere.”

A jury of community and economic development and historic preservation professionals selected the semifinalists. Finalists will receive a promotional video, media support and profiles on the Main Street America website. The national organization will announce the winners of the 2024 Great American Main Street award May 6, 2024, at the 2024 Main Street Now Conference in Birmingham, Alabama.

“On behalf of the Downtown Camas Association’s Board of Directors and staff, we are thrilled and grateful that the Downtown Camas Association, its volunteers, our amazing downtown businesses, city partners and liaisons have been acknowledged nationally for our revitalization work,” Sarah Laughlin, board president of the DCA, stated in the news release. “We are honored and humbled to be considered for this very selective and prestigious Great American Main Street Award. We look forward to sharing more about Camas and our Columbia River region and learning about other incredible Main Street towns around the country.”

Other contenders for the 2024 Main Street national award include: Denison Main Street in Denison, Texas; Downtown Lansing, Inc., in Lansing, Michigan; New Town Macon in Macon, Georgia; Madison Main Street Program in Madison, Indiana; Monroeville Main Street in Monroeville, Alabama; Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group in Mount Vernon, Iowa; and Swiss Bear, Inc., in New Bern, North Carolina.

On its website (mainstreet.org), Main Street America introduced the eight semifinalists and mentioned that the DCA, founded in 2009, has led Camas “through a mill town renaissance,” reducing the downtown Camas vacancy rate from 60% in 2009, to less than 1% today and noted that the DCA in 2020, “mobilized to save the iconic roofline lighting covering 21 buildings” in Camas’ historic downtown and is “deeply committed to the unique history and aesthetic characteristics that make (the) community special and showcase that pride with walking tours, trivia activities, public art projects, interpretive panels and more.”

According to Main Street America, the eight semifinalists have generated more than $1.48 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 881 new businesses, facilitated the creation of 3,827 new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 2,164 historic buildings and leveraged 306,986 volunteer hours.

To learn more about Main Street America, which describes itself as “a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts,” visit mainstreet.org.