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Wheeles accepts Main Street director position

Velinda Wheeles

Velinda Wheeles

COVINGTON — Velinda Wheeles of Opelika, Ala., accepted the position as the new Main Street Covington director.

The Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that Wheeles will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program, which oversees the activities held in the downtown business district, beginning May 19.

The search brought in more than 35 applicants and the Chamber narrowed it down to two, but both declined due to personal reasons. Wheeles was selected over another applicant who also had a Main Street background.

“We’re very excited to bring Velinda on our Chamber team.” said Hunter Hall, Chamber president. “Finding the right person who had strong Main Street experience, a history of successful relationship building, and the unique personality for this role was not easy. Velinda brings all these skill sets to the program.”

Wheeles is a life-long resident of Opelika and served as the Main Street director for Opelika from 2003-2011.

While in her position, she was responsible for working closely with the city of Opelika and the various department heads, the Chamber of Commerce and the tourism department, property owners and downtown merchants.

“Having the Main Street program under roof at the Chamber, alongside Tourism and Economic Development, is a very common-sense approach that will create natural synergies for all three programs,” Wheeles said. “I can’t wait to work with these other programs and the Chamber membership to make the most of our Main Street program.”

Wheeles said she’s excited to have been selected to fill the position and has visited friends in Covington for years.

“Every time I would visit I would dream a bit about running the Main Street program, and when the position opened up I couldn’t believe it,” Wheeles said. “I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. I’m ready to get to know the store owners, property owners, and working with the board to build on what is already a great program.”

Her official start date will be May 19, but she will be in town starting May 7-8 for orientation and training.

The Main Street program is built upon four guiding principles that the director will be responsible for:

• Organization of the Main Street board, volunteers, and committees;

• Maintaining the historic design values of the district, signage, and coordinated streetscape and landscape aesthetics;

• Promoting the brand management and drawing visitors and residents to the district; and

• Economic restructuring by connecting property owners and businesses in the district to financial and business solutions.

In February, the Covington City Council voted to move the Main Street program to the Chamber for management per a service contract between the Chamber board of directors and the City Council. The program will also be accountable to the state of Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs, which provides guidelines and resources for the local organization.

The Covington program is funded by two sources: Program expenses, which include concerts, permitting, Home for the Holidays in November and December, Fourth of July event funded from hotel motel tax; and salaries, benefits, and overhead funded by the city of Covington.

For more questions, contact Hunter Hall at Hhall@newtonchamber.com or Velinda Wheeles at wheeles.velinda@gmail.com by calling the office at 770-786-7510.