For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Contact: Mark Ard
PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Designates Newberry Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Today, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced that Newberry Main Street has been designated the January 2023 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.
“I am delighted to recognize Newberry Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month,” said Secretary Byrd. “Through collaborative efforts, this rural community has created strong, lasting ties between its business district and the community members they serve to become a place of inclusive community gatherings.”
West Newberry Road, photo courtesy of Newberry Main Street
Founded in the late 1880s as a phosphate mining town, Newberry boasts a historic district that includes 48 buildings, green spaces, shops, markets, restaurants, government offices, churches, and the City's High School. Newberry Main Street Organization (NMSO), in partnership with the City of Newberry, maintains and operates the Firehouse Art Gallery, which is located in the heart of the downtown district and offers regular art shows with works on display from community artists, and a unique gift shop. The gallery also houses the local Chamber of Commerce and NMSO offices.
In 2022, Newberry Main Street began efforts to revamp and expand their impact and visibility within the community. These efforts included organizational restructuring and recruiting individuals to fill vacancies in key positions. NMSO was successful in hiring a new Executive Director, Ms. Charmagne Manning, as well as a new President, Mr. Chris Mack, who is also a local district business owner. Existing Board Members and Committee leads remained in place and continued to serve the organization with its new focus on creating greater visibility for downtown. With renewed energy, the entire organization worked towards revitalizing the community spirit and participation in the Main Street district.
NMSO is the driving force behind several annual events that foster community and also encourage and spotlight entrepreneurship. For Halloween, Scarecrow Road was added to the slate of events, which allowed area small businesses to participate in decorating the downtown district with spooky creatively for the entire community to enjoy. The annual Fall Festival soared to new heights with around four thousand attendees and over 125 vendors.
With momentum building, NMSO also successfully unveiled its newest undertaking in the historic district. Newberry was transformed into a magical Gingerbread Village during the holiday season. NMSO design committee Chairwoman and Board Member Frances Bradley developed the idea and spearheaded the project. Newberry's Main Street district became a life-sized Gingerbread Village with community events offered every Saturday during December up until Christmas Eve. The entire community came together to volunteer time, material, and talents and delivered the small town charm felt in Main Street Communities around the State. The event demonstrated the value of many working together to accomplish the same goal.
“From a neighboring community, I grew up visiting Newberry. It always had a small town charm that made you feel at home” said Charmagne Manning, Executive Director of NMSO. “The growth of community support and participation has been remarkable. As an organization and community, we are looking forward to continuing on the path of fostering an inclusive and diverse community that empowers our businesses and citizens.”
About Florida Main Street
Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 59 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns – the community’s heart and soul.