Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced the winners of the 2020 Florida Main Street Awards on July 30th. The annual awards showcase the innovative practices and projects that contribute to the success of local Main Street programs and acknowledges their accomplishments that advance the goals of the Florida Main Street Program. The awards presentation was part of the virtual Florida Trust for Historic Preservation-Florida Main Street joint annual conference.
Apalachicola Main Street’s video entitled “There’s Still a Place” won a Merit Award in the “Outstanding Image Campaign or Promotional Materials” category. The project resulted from focus groups with business owners whose collective brainstorming resulted in the idea for a video to promote downtown Apalachicola and all that it has to offer. The resulting commercial is 60 seconds long and showcases the history, natural beauty, lifestyle, and amenities of the area with a focus on Apalachicola as the heart of the “Forgotten Coast” region of the panhandle. The video promotes Apalachicola as one of the emerging destinations in Florida, which is a goal of the Visit Florida strategic plan. Since its release, the video has gone viral on social media.
Past board member Carol Guild, who retired here after a career in advertising and marketing that spanned four decades, was the creative force that shaped the project from concept to completion. “Having seen this project’s trajectory start with business owners’ ideas on a white board, and then Carol’s expertise craft that input into a such a high quality end product, and now today the video has been viewed over 80,000 times on social media, it’s very gratifying to see that positive response,” said Apalachicola Main Street Board Chair Jim Bachrach, “We are honored to have this effort recognized by the Secretary of State.”
The video features Apalachicola residents and business owners, actual tourists encountered during the shoot, and dogs from the Franklin County Humane Society. The project was funded by public and private funds provided by a grant from Visit Florida, a technical assistance grant from Florida Main Street, and contributions from Apalachicola Main Street board members. In May 2019 almost 100 people attended the premiere screening at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture, and Art.
Apalachicola Main Street’s ShopApalachicola.com program won an Honor Award in the “Outstanding Economic Vitality Program or Project” category. When the pandemic began, the purchase of gift certificates was widely promoted as a way to keep cash flowing to entrepreneurs. However, the vast majority of downtown Apalachicola businesses didn’t offer online options, and foot traffic dried up. To fill the gap, Apalachicola Main Street created ShopApalachicola.com, a site where customers can purchase e-gift certificates from more than 20 participating restaurants and retailers.
70% of customers who make a purchase through the program do so from two or more businesses, highlighting the benefit of grouping multiple shops and restaurants onto one easy-to-use site. Purchases have been made locally as well as from other states, pointing to the geographic diversity of the customer base in this tourist destination where businesses rely on locals, snowbirds, part-time residents, and tourists from near and far.
Customers are purchasing e-gift certificates for themselves to use later as well as sending them as gifts. In addition, they are using the program to spread random acts of kindness. ShopApalachicola.com e-gift certificates have been sent to teachers, a postal worker, law enforcement officers, employees, volunteers, and healthcare workers.
Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 46 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns – the community’s heart and soul.