Downtown Odessa is in the middle of a dramatic, ongoing revitalization designed to bolster economic development and preserve the historic treasures of the area.
As part of that change, the Odessa City Council voted last month to withdraw Main Street Odessa from the Texas Main Street program and instead rebrand it as Downtown Odessa, Incorporated, a 501(c)3 organization formed by the city in 2005.
“The evolution of Main Street Odessa began last year when the city of Odessa became their partner and a strong supporter of their mission to revitalize downtown Odessa,” said Gloria Hernandez, Executive Director of Main Street Odessa. “The focus on creating a viable economic center in downtown Odessa and our new partnership with the city is the reason for the rebranding.”
Downtown Odessa, Inc. was set up under Main Street Odessa in order to allow individuals and businesses to make tax-deductible donations. This rebranding does not change the mission of the organization: to revitalize downtown Odessa as a center of commerce for the city and residents, who have continued to express an interest in a vibrant downtown.
“As a 501(c)(3), Downtown Odessa, Inc. qualifies for more grants and tax-deductible donations and all of the funds we raise from events, such as our signature program Firecracker Fandango, a July 4th celebration in downtown Odessa, will go toward economic development projects for downtown Odessa,” Hernandez said. “And now, our partnership with the city allows 100 percent of donations and funds raised to directly go back into projects that revitalize downtown Odessa—no proceeds or donations are spent on operating costs.”
The 2014-2015 allocated budget for Downtown Odessa, Inc. is $349,386, which will be entirely funded by the city, donations, and grants. Downtown Odessa, Inc. will seek grants, sponsorship dollars, donations, and in-kind donations, with all monies going toward beautification projects for downtown Odessa. The Board of Directors will have a three-year strategic planning session this fall to create a plan of action and project list for economic development and community development projects centered around downtown.
Promotional events that encourage the community to visit downtown and see the changes will stay the same, like the Firecracker Fandango, Hot Summer Nights with Cool Music, and the Heritage Holiday Christmas Parade.
As Hernandez explained, Downtown Odessa, Inc. will play a vital role in the revitalization of downtown.
“The Board of Directors is made up of elected officials, downtown business owners, and interested residents,” she said. “The board will work in concert with the City Council and the City Manager’s office to bring viable economic projects, entertainment, restaurants, and retail to downtown.”
The Main Street program is a part of the Texas Historical Commission and focuses on revitalization efforts of downtown areas. Odessa joined the program in 1991, and was allowed to use the nationally trademarked name of Main Street. The program’s main goal was to maintain the historical significance of the buildings while simultaneously encouraging new business development and the relocation of existing businesses to downtown. Achievements included:
- $161 million reinvested in the downtown area
- 66 storefront rehabilitations with an increased occupancy rate
- The North Grant median project and sidewalk improvements
- Renewed retail, commercial, and cultural visitors
Hernandez was hired as Executive Director in January and the Main Street Board of Directors and employees will remain the same.