ENCINITAS — A Main Street association in California hasn’t been certified since 2005.
That will change Nov. 16, when an hour-long ceremony at 2 p.m. at City Hall will officially award Leucadia 101 Main Street Association with the designation.
Leucadia 101, known for spearheading projects like the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape and Leucadia Art Walk, will now have a few more resources at its disposal. Most notably, being certified means that Leucadia 101 will be plugged into other certified California and national Main Street organizations.
“Every community is different,” said Paula Kirpalani, program manager for Leucadia 101. “Yet sometimes what works for one community can work for another. So it’s really beneficial to be a part of a large network. We can gather information from Main Streets that have already been there.”
Leucadia 101 was founded in 2003 to specifically address the needs of the Coast Highway 101 corridor in Leucadia, operating with grants from the city and county. Its volunteer board of directors collaborates with a few part-time employees to organize events, and Kirpalani envisions Leucadia 101 slowly growing over the next five or so years.
“This is an exciting place to be a business,” Kirpalani said. “We want to encourage that.”
Leucadia 101, like other Main Street programs, is tasked with preserving community character and jumpstarting economic development. Applying for certification required giving a very detailed history of Leucadia and showing the infrastructure challenges in the community with facts and figures, Kirpalani said.
“It was a very comprehensive process,” Kirpalani said. “We had to show we’re a strong organization and understand promotion, design and economic development.”
Laura Cole-Rowe, executive director of the California Main Street program, affirmed that applying for certification is no easy task.
“It’s not a three-page application,” Rowe said. “It’s more two binders’ worth of information.”
But the effort paid off. Leucadia 101 joins more than 30 certified Main Streets in the state.
Rowe said the California Main Street was particularly impressed with Leucadia 101’s role in the Streetscape, an ongoing project designed to give the area trees, sidewalks, parking spaces and traffic improvements.
She said that Main Street programs are increasingly important, as communities are interested in both exploring their past and looking to the future of business development.
With the designation, Leucadia 101 can attend and receive training at more conferences and workshops dedicated to a variety of specific topics, like how to help local businesses with social media, for example. Certification doesn’t provide Leucadia 101 with dedicated state or federal funding; however, the organization can now apply for grants that it otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Being Main Street certified also puts organizations in a better position to export good ideas as well, said Dody Crawford, executive director of the Downtown Encinitas Main Street Association, which has been certified for more than 20 years (Cardiff 101 Main Street, the third Main Street in Encinitas, is aspiring toward the designation.) A collaboration that began in Encinitas, the Arts Alive banners that appear on light poles from February to May have been emulated throughout the country after the idea was shared with other Main Streets, she said.
“The certification opens doors for all involved,” Crawford said.