By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Downtown is more than a one-shot story

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I missed the hullabaloo over McMinnville’s quest to become Parade Magazine’s Best Main Street in America, but the contest obviously was good fun around town and beyond. Turns out it coincided with my one annual trek outside the bounds of Internet and e-mail access, so I couldn’t even vote for the McMinnville cause.

My failure to participate, I’m told, was offset by those who voted early and often. Apparently, at least in early rounds, people could cast vote after vote into the online system, with that factor perhaps being what launched McMinnville into the finals against Collierville, Tennessee.

Parade considered nationwide nominations, selected 16 communities and set up a 16-city bracket akin to a sports tournament. Three rounds of head-to-head voting frenzy reduced the field to McMinnville and Collierville, with results to be announced. The winner will have a Parade cover story seen by millions in August, with inside mentions of the other communities.

We’re thinking that Collierville has the edge, being close to a metropolitan area (Memphis) where major media broadly promoted the contest. That wasn’t the case here in Oregon, where McMinnville had to depend mostly on itself to spread the word.

No matter, though. Win or lose, McMinnville still has one of the most appreciated downtowns in the region, a fact to be highlighted when McMinnville hosts the 2014 Oregon Main Street Conference this fall. We hope this upcoming event continues to spur downtown property owners and businesses into late-summer and early-fall action.

It already has begun. Some long-stained awnings have been cleaned, and other building’s appearance and infrastructure issues are being addressed. After the dust settles on this week’s 54th Turkey Rama, the downtown association and its many volunteers will focus their attention on preparing for the conference.

McMinnville is one of six Oregon cities with Performing Main Street status, a designation reserved for “advanced downtown programs following the Main Street Approach.” Twenty-three communities, including Newberg, Carlton and Dayton, have Transforming Downtown programs committed to downtown revitalization, while 18 more, including Amity, have Exploring Downtown programs.

It would be great to see McMinnville on the Parade Magazine cover. But local downtown development is more than a one-shot magazine story — it’s a 40-year record of private/public partnerships that made us eligible for and deserving of national recognition.

Still, the Parade cover would be fun to show off when all those Oregon downtowners come to town.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.

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