Looking to the Future: Downtown Meridian

There are some efforts to further improve downtown Meridian. The head of Meridian Main Street recently accepted a job with the city. Through the help of public and private funds, Meridian Main Street promotes efforts that enhance downtown. As the agency starts its search for a new leader, its supporters are preparing for more growth.

"We're really in a good place," says Kenny Watts, who is president for the Meridian Main Street Board of Directors. The now former director, John McClure is assisting the agency on a part time basis until the end of this month. Watts says the goal is to hire a new executive director within the next 30 days.

"This is almost a lifestyle job, because you're so committed to events that keep you pretty much busy 7 days a week. So often events happen within the core of downtown, but under the new fiscal year we will see efforts outside of 22nd Avenue; it will extend east and west."

For Meridian Main Street, its downtown district extends all the way from the interstate to the hospitals on 14th Street and ACME Plaza to the east and 29th Avenue to the west.

"We want to see some activity on the westside for 22nd Avenue, and just broaden the market of that area a little bit," says Watts.

More people are moving to downtown. In fact, there are currently 120 households within the downtown district. That number is set to increase soon when more than 20 apartments open in what's now known as the old Bellsouth Building.

"The people living in downtown, that number grows every year," says Watts. "So, the importance for them to be able to shop downtown, go to an event and have a meal is an ever growing reality."

Aside from preparing for future growth, Watts says his board is also looking for a new director who will help existing businesses in downtown.

Meridian Main Street was founded during the mid-1980'S. It's a non-profit agency that works with other groups to promote the revitalization of downtown.