Berlin’s New Main Street Post Eyes Mediator Role

Berlin's New Main

BERLIN — With Berlin’s events calendar in a constant state of growth, the town has created a unique position to manage Main Street special activities.
The next few months will also see a focus on improving the Visitor’s Center experience, expanding existing events and looking for new ways to bring large groups into town.
Officially joining the town earlier this month, Main Street Coordinator Megan Houston will be absorbing most of the downtown efforts from Berlin Director of Economic and Community Development Michael Day.
“His plate’s pretty full and he just needed help with Berlin’s Main Street program,” Houston said. “So I’ll be kind of taking over.”
Houston’s job will be focusing a lot on the “community development” half of the equation. Over the last few years, Berlin has added several signature events like the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Octoberfest. The events draw huge crowds but Houston believes there are still some new ways to promote the events and set each in its own niche.
“[We’ll] just be getting the events bigger and better and just making people more aware of how cool Berlin actually is,” she said.
The town is looking to put an emphasis on the arts community moving forward, according to Day.
“The Art and Entertainment Committee is sort of pushing another art event, a fine art event,” he said. “We’d like to tie it in with craft beer.”
There will also be a renewed focus on 2nd Friday Art Strolls in town with events that traditionally take place during the strolls shifted to other days. The goal, said Day, is to let the strolls better stand on their own.
Another area where Berlin would like to stand-out is in antiquing. A new antique mall is headed downtown this winter and will join the several shops already in place. Day hopes that antiques will now be prevalent enough in town to attract bus groups. On top of all of the shops, Berlin has added a number of restaurants over the past two years and might now be more appealing for an all-day visit instead of just a quick trip.
“Having the expansion of the food business, the restaurant eateries, will only add to that because with this much people can have a break and eat, have lunch, so we can keep them here all day,” Day said. “I think we can really now start to go after some of these antique bus excursions.”
Houston will be spearheading all of this with a lot of Day’s concentration now going to economic development off of Main Street and out of downtown. Houston isn’t the first downtown-focused coordinator that Berlin’s had, but she is the first since the town received its national Main Street designation. Besides tweaking the events and looking for crowd catchers like bus tours, Houston will serve as an ambassador to Main Street merchants.
“[Day] wants me to kind of be the mediator between all of the merchants and all of the committees and everything to make sure everyone is on the same page,” she said.
Having a dedicated Main Street Coordinator in addition to an Economic and Community Development director shows that Berlin is doubling-down on town events, according to Day, and has fully recognized the potential of downtown.
“It’s the fact that events have become a huge economic driver for this town both when the event is happening and after the event with people coming back,” he said. “We’ve developed this and now we’ve reached the tipping point where we just need more help to continue this and keep it going.”
While Houston and Day are looking at a lot of big-idea projects over the next few months, Houston’s first real task in the position will be to give the downtown Visitor’s Center a “facelift.”

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