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State, national Main Streets converge in Havana

State and national Main Street leaders gathered in Havana this week to help the fledgling local Main Street organization determine a strategy for its own future.

A Main Street Resource Team comprised of experts from state and national Main Street organizations and consulting firms visited Havana beginning Tuesday.

The teams’ visit culminates in a transformation workshop for volunteers and community members Thursday night.

The consulting team in cludes national consultant Todd Barman, whose focus is local economic development; Norma Ramirez de Miess, Senior Program Officer and Director of Leadership Development for Main Street America; Ronni Wood, Coordinator of the Florida Main Street Program; and downtown revitalization specialist Sharlene Celaya Cannon.

Tuesday the team was treated to a walking tour of downtown Havana guided by Havana Main Street board members before a lunch meeting with the entire board.

Tuesday afternoon the team hosted a press conference prior to meeting with local economic development officials, the Havana Town Council and volunteer committee members.

Barman said at the press conference that one of the teams’ goals was to help with specific challenges facing the Havana Main Street program.

“Not every main street has a two-lane highway truck route running through the middle,” Barman noted.

U.S. Highway 27 becomes Main Street as it passes through downtown Havana.

Barman cited Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin as a town with a business mix similar to Havana’s that had developed a successful Main Street marketing program.

Havana Main Street Executive Director Tony Lombardo said his biggest hope for the teams’ visit is that their professional expertise will help him and the volunteers in Havana develop a cohesive strategy for the the future.

The community is invited to the final workshop Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at the Hazel Baker Community Center, Center, 128 E. 7th Ave., Havana.

By Mark Pettus