ALEM — Oregon Main Street announced its 2021 “Excellence on Main” award winners today and released videos of all the recipients. A total of twenty-one businesses, projects, partners, and people were recognized. Darin Rutledge with the Klamath Falls Downtown Association (KFDA) received the Executive Director of the Year award. The video of the award winner can be found here.
“Main Street executive directors are dedicated professionals who care deeply about their communities and work countless hours attracting the people and financial resources necessary to make them more livable and vital,” said Sheri Stuart, State Coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “Darin Rutledge with the Klamath Falls Downtown Association is the embodiment of this professionalism and commitment.”
Joining KFDA in 2018, Darin embraced his position with great enthusiasm and brought a skill set that has elevated KFDA’s organizational capacity. Under his leadership, the board has broadened their reach by creating a structure to include key partners. These partnerships have helped keep KFDA at the forefront of many revitalization efforts. Darin also helped restructure the membership base growing it by 67% just before covid-19 struck. This has been maintained throughout the pandemic with expertly crafted initiatives. Darin initiated swift and effective Covid response. His “Main Street Resiliency” page was a welcome site for the vulnerable business community and an early model for other communities in Oregon. Through Darin’s efforts, KFDA also partnered with the city in developing and executing several Covid relief programs such as a restaurant relief gift certificate program, on street short term restaurant take-out parking, business grant programs, and distribution of PPE. And, Darin helped KFDA develop and implement activities to take the place of cancelled community events including a modified fall festival, a virtual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and a fun virtual annual meeting and membership drive. Darin also jumps in to help on projects and can be found planting flowers, moving sandwich boards, manning Third Thursday Booths, and passing out water during hot weather street festivals. Darin is always on alert for opportunities for local businesses. It may be a grant situation, a potential for a cross promotion or a collaboration that will benefit both parties. And he keeps in close contact with business and building owners to better understand their needs or concerns. Darin’s impact stretches beyond the local community. He has actively participated in advocacy efforts for the National Main Street Center, helped developed a tri-state recovery action plan template, and is a respected member of the Oregon Main Street Network.
Oregon Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards were created in 2010 to recognize the efforts of those who work day-in and day-out to revitalize Oregon’s historic downtowns and traditional commercial neighborhoods. 13 other towns in Oregon were honored with awards this year.
“2020 was a particularly challenging year on Main Street,” said Sheri Stuart, state coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “Our main street communities demonstrated amazing resiliency, working tirelessly to support, encourage, and nurture the people, businesses, and property owners in their communities. These awards recognize the outstanding efforts of local programs in creating and supporting projects and activities that exemplify Oregon Main Street’s mission to build equitable, livable, and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place.”
The wide range of awards is reflective of the comprehensive Main Street Approach™ to downtown revitalization developed by the National Main Street Center. This model is used by the communities participating in the three-tier Main Street Track of Oregon Main Street Network. From 2010 to 2020, communities participating in the Performing Main Street and Transforming Downtown levels – the top two tiers – have seen $125 million in private building improvement projects, $124.6 million in public projects, 1,347 private rehab projects, 639 net new businesses, 163 business expansions, 126 business acquisitions, and 3,961 net new jobs. In addition, 250,348 hours of volunteer time has been contributed to local main street organizations in the top tiers.
Oregon Main Street is part of Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For additional information, visit www.oregonmainstreet.org.