Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
January 2008 Program of the Month
Kissimmee Main Street
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Florida Main Street Community of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Kissimmee Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for January 2008. Communities are selected based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program. Kissimmee Main Street was designated a Florida Main Street Community in 1997. This marks the second time in less than a year that Kissimmee has earned the Community of the Month distinction, evidence of the community's commitment to the Main Street approach. Selection is determined by a system of accumulated points based on community participation in statewide and national conferences and training, hosting of Florida Main Street events, and consistent delivery of quarterly and annual reports to the Florida Main Street coordinator.
"Kissimmee has proven its dedication to enhancing its downtown and preserving the historic character of the community," said Secretary Browning. "Already a popular place to visit, Kissimmee Main Street is working hard to make the city an even better place to live and work and shop."
A city of more than 60,000 residents, Kissimmee is well-known for its amusement parks and outdoor recreation. Incorporated in 1883, the city's thriving historic downtown includes ample pedestrian shopping areas, rehabilitated original buildings, and numerous community events and celebrations. Kissimmee Main Street hosted the Florida Main Street Annual Conference and Awards Dinner in September 2007, with more than 200 attendees and guest speakers from the region and around the nation.
Kissimmee Main Street, along with the Downtown Kissimmee Area Council and the Osceola County Historical Society, has embraced the community's rich 124-year history and heritage as an agricultural and ranching center. In addition to its emerging role as Florida's cattle capital, in the late 1800s the city became a shipbuilding hub when developer Hamilton Disston dredged the Kissimmee River and established his office in Kissimmee. For the next forty years steamboats chugged from Lake "Toho" (Tohopekaliga) and downtown Kissimmee, to the Gulf, and on to ports around the nation and Cuba. When the Dixie Highway opened in 1916, linking Florida with the rest of the nation, it marked the end of Kissimmee's steamboat shipping trade, the beginning of sprawl development, and eventual dormancy.
Since its designation as a Main Street community, Kissimmee's downtown has experienced a rebirth with 241 construction and rehabilitation projects totaling more than $18 million. Over 120 businesses have opened creating 317 new jobs in the downtown. Volunteers have donated 7,874 hours of their time to meetings and events.
Kissimmee Main Street's innovative "Kissimmee Sculpture Experience" premiered in October 2006 to rave reviews and drew visitors from around the region. In November 2007 Kissimmee Main Street kicked off the second year of this open-air gallery event with a Sculpture Gala, artist awards, and a silent auction. Kissimmee Main Street has revamped its popular Historic Home Tour by offering the "Neighborhood By Night Historic Home Tour" with luminaries that light the path to featured homes.
In response to a request from the Downtown Business Association, Kissimmee Main Street now manages Toho Square Farmer's Market, continuing the market's twenty year tradition of providing fresh food and handmade arts and crafts. The market operates from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays. Kissimmee Main Street program manager Jessica Newman says,"We plan to work closely with our local University of Florida Extension Services agent as well as the State Farmer's Market Association to make our market the best it can be."
Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida's historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida's historic retail districts. Since 1985, the Bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street programs.