Historic Apalachicola Main Street announced this week that its 10-member board has appointed Augusta West as its new executive director.

West, 39, originally from Thomasville, Georgia, has been involved in preserving Apalachicola’s history since 2011 when she became the director of educational programs at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. A 1997 graduate of the University of Georgia, she has a background in research and fundraising. 

West served on the Main Street board of directors in 2012-13 and collaborated with the group on several events during her tenure at the maritime museum.

“I’m excited about this new endeavor and feel honored to have been offered the position,” West said. “I look forward to working with the board and volunteers to better this historic community.”

Historic Apalachicola Main Street is a non-profit, volunteer-driven, locally-envisioned, community based organization supported by state and national networks. Jim Bachrach is chairman of its board of directors, who also include Frank Cook, Sam Gilbert, Tom Morgan, Jody Rosenbaum, Lynn Spohrer, Ed Springer, Joe Taylor, Jan Thomas and Betty Webb.

The local organization is part of the National Main Street program, established in 1980 to encourage economic development within the context of historic preservation. Based upon a framework structured by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Main Street is an integral part of the state’s historic preservation program, which helps communities develop and implement their own ideas.

The state program, and the national model on which it is based, are applicable to communities with historic resources sufficient to create a well-defined sense of place, and a tangible link with the past. Using the established framework, local Main Street programs develop specialized initiatives based on the needs and desires of their communities to bring about revitalization of the traditional commercial core.

This represents a public-private partnership, and with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy in achieving these goals in Florida's historic retail districts. Working in partnership with the city, Historic Apalachicola Main Street’s goal is to lead the preservation and revitalization of the downtown area. 

Historic Apalachicola Main Street’s accomplishments since its inception in 2011 include bringing fireworks back to the July 3 Independence Celebration, completing multiple landscape and streetscape beautification projects, working with the city to implement downtown walking tour signs, and earning designation as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month in February 2013 for its contribution to generating economic opportunities by promoting heritage tourism.

The executive director’s role is to serve as a facilitator for historic preservation-based community revitalization under the key areas of organization, promotions, economic development, and design. West will work closely with the Main Street board, volunteers, and other public and private sector leaders to implement the Main Street program.

Cumulatively, commercial districts taking part in the Main Street program across the country have spurred the rehabilitation of more than 246,000 buildings, and generated $59.6 billion in new investment, with a net gain of more than 502,728 new jobs, and 115,000 new businesses. The Main Street program reports that every dollar a community uses to support its local program leverages an average of $18 in new investment, making Main Street one of the most successful economic development strategies in America.

Historic Apalachicola Main Street’s mission is “Enhancing downtown Apalachicola through sound economic development which promotes our future while preserving our past.” To learn more, please visit www.ApalachicolaMainStreet.org.