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Main Street Covington moves under Chamber umbrella

COVINGTON – Main Street Covington, a program dedicated to promoting and developing the downtown area, moved under the umbrella of the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce after city officials approved the service contract at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston has pushed for the program to move under the Chamber since June after City Council members agreed that the city would become responsible for Main Street in exchange for the Newton County taking full responsibility for Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful.

“I’m very excited about finally getting it over there. I think it will become a very positive result for the city of Covington and Newton County,” Johnston said. “I think the synergy of tourism, Main Street and economic development can provide a broader range and higher quality of all the events and programs that go on here.”

In the Main Street service contract between the city and Chamber, it was agreed that a director would be hired within 30 days.

Attempts to reach Chamber President Hunter Hall for comment about the hiring process for a director were unsuccessful before presstime.

Interim director Serra Phillips stepped in to head the program in July. Since then she delved into projects that included illuminating the businesses and trees around the Square, hosting a fall harvest festival and organizing the Christmas celebrations.

When asked about moving the program under the Chamber, Phillips said, “Change is always good.”

“We needed a change and a chance to re-evaluate. A strength of moving under the Chamber is being able to see visitors daily and be able to connect with them and show off downtown,” Phillips said. “It will really open our doors up and help us expand our reach.”

Phillips said as Main Street begins to work with the Chamber, it will help increase the communication with the tourism department.

“As tourism numbers grow, we can begin to attract more of a variety of people. Our downtown isn’t just great because of the movies and film industry, but it also holds a great historic value,” Phillips said.

As the interim director, Phillips also was part of welcoming new members to the Main Street board. The board is made up of 12 members including a representative from the city and county. The group meets monthly and also hosts a budget planning session and work planning retreat every year.

The service contract that was approved requested an elected official to serve on the board.

Johnston reminded the council that since the meetings are open, any council member can attend.

“We can all participate and assist in the transition,” Johnston said at Monday’s council meeting. “I think it’s a good idea for whoever can go, go to the meetings.”