Mount Airy’s tourism and governmental officials have known for about three months that the city’s Main Street was the winner of a special honor, but the physical evidence of this didn’t come until Thursday afternoon.
That’s when representatives of the American Planning Association arrived to recognize the city for the quality of its downtown area.
“I really think it is fitting that Mount Airy won,” Roger Bardsley, the treasurer of the organization, said in remarks during a Thursday press conference at City Hall. “You’ve managed to create an identity as ‘America’s Main Street.’”
In May, Mount Airy’s downtown was deemed the winner of the 2012 People’s Choice contest for Great Main Street. The purpose of the contest was to highlight the main streets of cities which are vibrant, walkable and interesting, as part of a “Great Places in North Carolina” initiative spearheaded by the state’s chapter of the American Planning Association.
Only seven cities across the state were recognized as having high-quality Main Streets. In addition to Mount Airy, they included Asheville, Gastonia, Charlotte, Hillsborough, Edenton and Southport.
Seventy-five communities submitted information for the award from the 57-year-old association, according to Bardsley. Mount Airy’s honor was based on the city’s Main Street receiving 1,700 votes during an online poll, along with input by a panel of experts.
Bardsley said the award will lead to greater exposure for Mount Airy, through efforts including the production of a video highlighting the city which will be distributed to various areas.
Along with municipal officials, leaders of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce were on hand for Thursday’s visit by American Planning Association representatives. It included a presentation of the award during a meeting of the city board of commissioners, in addition to the press conference.
“Mount Airy is fortunate to be anchored by a distinctive Main Street,” Mayor Deborah Cochran said Thursday, adding that it represents “the best” of what the city is all about. “Main Street is emblematic of simple lifestyles and wholesome values,” Cochran added.
Dennis Lowe, who heads the chamber’s governing board, said Thursday that he believed the association had made the right choice for the honor, noting this city’s overall presence as a business-friendly community.
“We certainly are proud to be part of the process,” Lowe said on behalf of the chamber.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.