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2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: Alberta Main Street, Portland, Oregon

March 19, 2019 | 2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: Alberta Main Street, Portland, Oregon 

In a week, we’ll announce the three winners of the 2019 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) at the Main Street Now Conference in Seattle, Washington. In anticipation of the GAMSA reveal, we’re highlighting each of the 10 GAMSA semi-finalists on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day until the #NOW19 conference.

Semi-finalists are selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation. These communities exemplify the power of the Main Street Approach® to transform traditional downtowns and neighborhood business districts.

Alberta Main Street • Portland, Oregon

Year Founded: 2010 | Population: 29,139 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 21
The annual Alberta Street Fair draws over 25,000 attendees and is the longest street fair in Portland, spanning 20 blocks. Photo credit: Naim Hasan Photography

“We work to maintain Alberta as a place where all feel welcome, and where arts-inspired and community conscious projects can grow real roots."  
- Ann Griffin, Alberta Main Street Executive Director

After decades of disinvestment, Alberta Main Street has built a thriving and inclusive district that reflects the diversity and character of their Portland, Oregon neighborhood. Since Alberta Main Street formed in 2010, they have nurtured a strong small business community. Forty-four new businesses have launched and job opportunities have nearly doubled—from 696 in 2010 to 1,375 in 2018. 

Alberta Main Street has worked tirelessly to nurture an equitable community and address challenges like gentrification and displacement. They have offered programs that encourage small business development and property ownership among residents who have been historically marginalized from economic growth. Now, 50 percent of Alberta businesses are women-owned and 23 percent are minority-owned.

Success has rippled throughout the district. Alberta is lined with locally-owned businesses, public art, unique shops and galleries, and historical markers that document the history of the African American community in the neighborhood. Residents and visitors are flocking to Main Street. Last year, events, programs, and activities drew 30,000 people to the district, with an estimated economic impact of over $5 million.

Fun Fact: Alberta Main Street is home to a Tiny House Hotel, which boasts six unique tiny houses clustered around a communal patio with nightly campfires and all-you-can-eat smores.

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Check back tomorrow for our next GAMSA semi-finalist spotlight.