For Immediate Release
Monday, June 3, 2019
Contact: Sarah Revell
Secretary Lee Designates Leesburg Partnership as Florida Main Street Program of the Month
Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced today that the Leesburg Partnership has been designated the June 2019 Florida Main Street Program of the Month. Programs are selected based on their development achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street program.
“For more than 20 years, Leesburg has worked to restore, promote and maintain the historic character of its downtown.” said Secretary Lee. “With the support of the Leesburg Partnership, their efforts have inspired economic growth and created an atmosphere for residents and visitors to enjoy year round.”
Historic Downtown Leesburg
Located in Central Florida, Leesburg is Lake County’s oldest city. The community gets its name from one of the area’s earliest residents, Evander Mclver Lee, who came to the area looking for a better climate. Shortly after in 1875, the town of Leesburg became an incorporated community.
In the 1930s, Leesburg was best known for its watermelon production. Watermelon was so significant to the area that the community held an annual watermelon festival for 30 years. However, watermelon production gradually dwindled and citrus became the main industry until 1985 when citrus growers moved their groves further south. Today, Leesburg’s main source of economic development is it’s growing popularity as a retirement destination.
Downtown revitalization efforts began in 1994 when the Downtown Merchants Association, the City of Leesburg and the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce organized to form the Leesburg Downtown Partnership. One of their first accomplishments was achieving Main Street designation for Downtown Leesburg. Since their designation in 1994, the Leesburg Partnership has successfully carried out Main Street’s mission of bringing jobs, businesses and people back to their downtown.
“In 25 years we have developed strong partnerships with the City of Leesburg, Lake County, Downtown Leesburg Business Association and many local civic groups,” said Joanie Smalley, Executive Director of the Leesburg Partnership. “We have been a part of the vision within the City of Leesburg with the Hwy 27/441 Gateway, 441 Gateway, Main Street Complete Streets, Dixie Avenue Complete Streets, Venetian Gardens Master Plan, and now in the planning process for the Main Street Master Plan.”
Leesburg holds an array of events throughout the year, most notably the annual Leesburg Bikefest which hosts upwards of 250,000 people. Proclaimed the world’s largest 3-day motorcycle and music event, the Leesburg Bikefest is a 3-day motorcycle and music event, packed with more than 55 concerts and 200 vendors. In addition, they are currently preparing for their annual 4th of July celebration.
For more information about the Leesburg Partnership, visit leesburgpartnership.com or facebook.com/leesburgpartnership. For more information on the Florida Main Street program, 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 46 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.