WINTER PARK, Fla. – Three years ago, the nonprofit Park Avenue District was formed with the goal of celebrating the city’s rich history but to also get results for small business owners. On Thursday, the organization became part of the Florida Main Street program.
“We decided to try and go after it and apply for our own Main Street in Winter Park and we’re the first official Main Street in Winter Park,” said Sarah Grafton, president of Park Avenue District.
Grafton told News 6 how the program will work to give greater support to local businesses.
“It’s very competitive out there for a small business and our small businesses on Park Avenue are no different,” Grafton said. “What this program does is it allows us to apply for grants it allows us to host different events, marketing promotions for these small businesses. It’s very difficult for small businesses to compete with big bucks stores.”
With help from Florida Main Street — an assistance program by the Florida Department of State, Grafton said over the next three years they’re looking to get $150,000 in funding for Winter Park’s historic downtown so small business owners can thrive. In Central Florida, communities like DeLand, Ocala and Orlando have benefited from the state program.
“There are 11 districts in downtown Orlando, and we saw that, and we saw how successful that was and Mayor Dyer really turned around those small business corridors, so we wanted to be a part of that, and we’ve had so much help from them,” Graft said. “I have watched some of these avenue shops open and close doors and it’s hard for small businesses to stay afloat definitely post COVID.”
Grafton said it’s not just about economic development. It’s also about keeping up with today’s trends while at the same time maintaining the historical essence of downtown Winter Park —specifically Park Avenue, a destination for locals looking to shop or enjoy fine dining.
As a Florida Main Street, over the next three years they will have access to educational resources, one-on-one training and ways to preserve the history of downtown Winter Park.
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