For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Contact: Sarah Revell
Secretary of State Ken Detzner Designates Ocala Main Street as Florida Main Street Program of the Month
TALLAHASSEE, Fla –
Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today that Ocala Main Street has been designated the May 2017 Florida Main Street Community of the Month. Communities are selected based on their developmental achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
First established in 1985, Ocala is one of Florida’s oldest designated Main Street Programs. In the last 30 years, Ocala Main Street has brought more than $60 million dollars to downtown businesses and construction projects, and has helped to create hundreds of new businesses and nearly 1,000 new jobs. Perhaps the most impressive achievement is the 61,681 volunteer hours that locals have poured into the program, helping to create a fun and unique downtown experience.
“Ocala is a center for historic homes, modern music, a growing arts scene and a thriving downtown,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “With the nearby Silver Springs State Park, the Ocala National Forest and the Florida Trail, as well as being a designated ‘Horse Capital of the World’, Ocala has so much to offer residents and visitors alike. Ocala is uniquely positioned to build off of its great success and I look forward to seeing their downtown area continue to grow.”
Today, Ocala serves as the county seat of Marion County, but the area around Ocala was first inhabited by Native Americans in a place they called Ocale. Evidence of Native American sites can be found around Ocala, Silver Springs State Park and the Ocala National Forest.
In 1883, much of Ocala’s historic downtown was destroyed in a fire on Thanksgiving Day. The scorched wooden buildings were replaced with brick ones, earning Ocala the nick-name “The Brick City.” Then in the mid-20th century, horse farming became a major industry and Ocala was designated as a ‘Horse Capital of the World.’ Today, it is one of only five cities in the world (four in the U.S. and one in France) that can legally use the title based on breeding history and horse concentration within the city.
The Ocala Main Street area offers an array of new restaurants, museums and many exciting events. The First Friday Art Walk, the Ocala Farmer’s Market and a variety of shows and concerts take place each week. Every year, Ocala Main Street hosts the Silver Springs Film Festival, the Brick City Beer and Wine festival and the Horse Fever Art Festival, which features horse statues placed throughout town that have been painted by local artists. New restaurants have opened downtown and the area is also home to Ocala’s first craft brewery.
"The way things are turning, people are really looking for that downtown approach," said Diana Schwartz, the Director of Ocala’s Main Street program. "They want to work, live and play at the center of our community and this is a great time to do so because of all of the exciting things happening in downtown Ocala."
For more information about Ocala Main Street, please visit feeldowntownocala.com. To learn more about the Florida Main Street program, please visit floridamainstreet.com or facebook.com/floridamainstreet.
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About Florida Main Street
Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 47 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach®, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns – the community’s heart and soul. Since the program’s inception in 1985, the Florida Main Street programs have cumulatively created 24,604 jobs, 7,337 new businesses and produced $2.5 billion in reinvestment.