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Henryetta Chamber of Commerce members were introduced to the Oklahoma Main Street program Monday.
Obie Hicks, executive director of the Okemah Chamber of Commerce, described the program and opportunities provided by it.
He pointed out that, while the chamber is organized to help the community, the Main Street Program is focused solely on the community’s Main Street businesses.
“There is a four-point approach,” he said. That included the economic vitality, design, marketing and organization.
Overseen by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Main Street program can include designers coming to town to work with businesses redo their store fronts and interior and help them with merchandising. At the same time, there is hep available for business owners to learn better business techniques and how to operate their point of sale equipment.
One avenue for the program is working with he National Register of Historic Places. That can help building owners with tax breaks on any renovations. “They also get the prestige of having a plaque on their building.” he said.
Hicks said the chamber, “is all about memberships. Main Street has the focus on sponsors. That doesn’t necessarily mean a sponsor gets something. The program requires a separate board of directors and, most of the time, a separate executive director.
In Okemah’s case, the two are combined but he admitted the majority of the time, that combination does not work out
Hicks also pointed out a buy in from the city government is needed to help make the program successful.
“A lot of Main Street programs get funding through the city. Some of those pay a third of the total funding.”
Hicks said he was named to the chamber position in June and started his involvement in the city due to operation of rental properties there.