Last week I attended the Oklahoma Main Street quarterly training session in El Reno. The topics covered at this session included marketing, marketing resources, utilizing multicultural resources and economic restructuring. We also toured several award winning rehabilitation projects and dined in one of these, a former post office, which is now a conference/banquet facility.

We also discussed the National Trust’s Annual Preservation Conference which will be held this year in Tulsa in October. Several Main Street communities will host bus tours of their towns as part of this five day conference.

Other interesting news; One Main Street community in northeast Oklahoma (Claremore) was recently presented with an anonymous $50,000 unrestricted cash gift from a person who appreciated what the Main Street program has done in that community and felt it was time to say ‘thanks’ in a big way.

Another community, Okmulgee, was recently given a three story downtown building- first floor completely leased- and were also given a check for $35,000 to go along with it. All of this because of a need to disperse the property combined with an appreciation for the work Main Street program has done in that community.

On the issue of utilizing multicultural resources we heard from a representative of the National Trust Main Street Center, Norma Meiss (a civil engineer, former Main Street director, native of Honduras, recently naturalized US Citizen). She explained the importance of immigrants to downtown economies and how to work toward utilizing their presence to enhance our communities. We were told that many of these folks prefer downtown areas because they most closely resemble the community structure they are accustomed to; a walkable central business district with churches and housing in the surrounding area. She also noted that the basic values ‘faith, friends, family, hard work and determination’ are values shared by most immigrants.

As an example of such influence we were informed that Guymon, Oklahoma over the past few years has had a heavy influx of Hispanic population. Partly as a result of this there are currently no vacancies in downtown Guymon, those properties being fully occupied. This is the dream of every Main Street community, fully occupied buildings contributing revenue and social capital to the local economy.

(As a side note- at the National Main Street conference this Spring I heard it’s been projected that in 20 years the majority of new businesses in the USA will be started by people who weren’t born here.)

We were also given tips on how to successfully utilize our scheduled stint at the Main Street booth at the Oklahoma State Fair in OKC in September. We will be hosting the booth the afternoon/evening of September with Holly Tichenor and Robert Felts showcasing the finer points of Cushing.

These training sessions are required for member Main Street communities and serve to keep us educated and informed about what’s happening regionally, nationally and locally in the world of downtown revitalization.

I’d be happy to discuss any aspect of Main Street to those who may be interested. Just call the Downtown Cushing Main Street office at 225-2100 or drop us an email at [email protected]