Main Street Morgantown reflects on 2018 at 34th annual meeting

MORGANTOWN — Main Street Morgantown reflected on a busy 2018 on Tuesday during the organization’s 34th annual meeting, held at Arts Monongahela.
The non-profit focuses on promoting the downtown and wharf districts in order to “build a great place” for shopping, dining and tourism in Morgantown.
Main Street Executive Director Barbara Watkins said that throughout 2018, more than $1.8 million in private investment came downtown; as did more than $2.1 million in public investment, largely tied to county courthouse renovations.
She explained that five new businesses opened in 2018, creating 26 new jobs.
“That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it really is when you have small businesses with just one or two people,” Watkins said. “That really is a lot of jobs created in a small area.”
Approaching her 17th year with the organization, Watkins noted the dozen or so annual events Main Street puts on downtown, including MedExpress Kid’s Day (31 years), Chocolate Lovers Day (20 years) and the Arts Walk (17 years.)
“When I started here, we had four events. That’s it. Most of the events that you see have been developed in just the last few years,” Watkins said. “We’re always looking for ways to create additional opportunities for our organization and our downtown districts.”
Main Street Board President Charlie McEwuen thanked outgoing board members Ro Brooks, Jim Craig and Chris Evans and welcomed newcomers joining the board, including: Brian Camp, Beth Keener-Flanery, Rob Henline, Grace Hutchens, Michael Mills and Lilly Rose.
“I just want to thank all of you for giving of your time and talent to this organization,” McEwuen said, noting that he too will step away from the board once his term expires.
“I have been in business for over 40 years and with the Main Street organization since its inception. A lot of things have changed in 40 years, but downtown and our organization are always changing to meet those needs,” McEwuen said
The gathering also served as an opportunity to recognize those selected as Main Street’s outstanding supporters for 2018:
— WVU Center for Service and Learning — Outstanding Volunteer Organization
— Susan Riddle — Outstanding board member
— Ron Dulaney — Outstanding public official
— L.J. Giuliani — Outstanding business person
Catherine Whitworth, with the WVU Center for Service and Learning, said the relationship the center has with Main Street is mutually beneficial as students get hands-on experience and Main Street gets extra hands to help run events and other aspects of the organization.
“The Main Street organization has engaged our students, not just in working events, but they’ve also worked with our strategic communications classes on semester-long projects, with PR materials and undergraduate research classes,” Whitworth said.
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