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News Release
Baker City Receives Excellence on Main Awards - 10/07/21

SALEM — 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. Two of those recognized were from Baker City based on nominations submitted by Baker City Downtown. Videos of the following award winners can be found here

  • Outstanding Promotion went to the Gingerbread Tour in Baker City. One of the major fundraisers each year for CASA of Eastern Oregon are parlor tours of historic buildings during the holiday season. The tours couldn’t be conducted last year due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the global pandemic. The brilliant folks at CASA came up with the idea of a Gingerbread Tour playing off a historic buildings theme that could be conducted safely during a pandemic. Partnering with Baker City Downtown, they held the first annual gingerbread house tour along Main Street with businesses hosting gingerbread houses crafted by local community members in their storefront windows. These weren’t your typical gingerbread houses. Many featured stunning recreations of significant historic buildings in Baker City. In addition, school classes were invited to join the event. And, life size gingerbread men dotted downtown courtesy of another local business. A tour and scavenger hunt were created to ensure none of the buildings were missed. The response was overwhelming. It truly brought the community together, spread holiday spirit, and provided much needed foot traffic to businesses on Main Street.

“Our Main Street programs work tirelessly to support local businesses and to improve how downtowns look, feel, and function. But, they also bring these districts to life through events and activities that build community and connect people to a part of their history and heritage, said Sheri Stuart, State Coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “The Gingerbread Tour in Baker City is a wonderful example of this. It was a way to safely bring people together for a shared experience that united community.”

  • Volunteers on Main Local artist Tom Novak has been an active volunteer with Baker City Downtown since 2017, serving on the Design Committee with perfect attendance. Tom initiated the Baker City Blooms program to establish hanging flower pots on the light poles of 5 blocks on Main Street. He secured the funding and designed the brackets that are built by a local welder. Tom has worked on other seasonal beautification efforts like a downtown scarecrow display contest, signage for Central Park, a walking map brochure for the African animal sidewalk art sculptures placed throughout the downtown district, and annual downtown clean-up, among many other activities. His efforts to make visual improvements to the downtown he loves has affected the way Downtown is perceived with the community and visitors, drawing in shoppers and encouraging leisurely walks. Tom was one of six volunteers recognized for his volunteer efforts.

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.

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