Downtown Wetumpka’s economy has been on the uptick over the last few years.
According to data published by Main Street Wetumpka, 24 businesses have set up shop in downtown Wetumpka; 51 new jobs have been created; more than $3,000,000 in public funds and more than $3,000,000 in private funds have been invested downtown; and nearly 4,000 volunteer hours have been put in since 2016.
Main Street Wetumpka director Jenny Stubbs said this data comes from a monthly report she submits to Main Street Alabama.
Stubbs said these numbers and the downtown revitalization is a result of many different organizations coming together and is a tale of community involvement.
“(Main Street Wetumpka is) not taking full credit for this,” she said. “It has been a team effort and thankfully we have a welcoming downtown community to inspire people to move to the area.”
Market Shoppes owner Pam Martin was one of the first businesses to be inspired and made the move to downtown Wetumpka in 2016. She said the number of people coming to downtown today compared to earlier days impresses her.
“We have seen a huge increase in traffic in the past few years,” Martin said. “People come in and comment about how amazed they are at downtown Wetumpka. I think we are at a point where we just need to get the word out that there are businesses downtown worth shopping.”
She said the renewed interest in downtown has stretched beyond the borders of Elmore County.
“We are seeing people come in from outside Elmore County who come here to spend the day in downtown Wetumpka,” she said.
Martin also volunteers with Main Street Wetumpka as promotions committee chairperson, which she said has had a direct impact on her business.
“I now have relationships with other businesses downtown that I might not have had otherwise,” Martin said. “It brings energy downtown. It’s probably the sense of community. I really think more today than ever that’s important.”
Stubbs said the nonprofit organization has to rely on volunteers.
“For us to post this number of volunteer hours is tremendous,” she said. “Unless there are boots on the ground, nothing is going to happen. We have had some amazing volunteers.”
Stubbs said the real story behind the numbers shows the downtown area beat the odds.
“If you look at the number of downtowns that thrived decades ago and the ones being revitalized today, it is a sad story,” she said. “(Downtown) had gotten to a point where it was going to go one direction or the other. One direction would have been easy and see it go in to oblivion. The other direction took a lot of time and energy and effort. Thankfully, here we are today.”
Stubbs said the past four years have just been the beginning.
“We have a ways to go, but considering where we were in 2016 and where we are today, it is a lifetime of difference,” she said. “It really is amazing the amount of success and the transformation that has taken place since Main Street was organized. Unless there is some sort of vibrancy and movement of people within the space, it may as well not be there.”
Stubbs said while their efforts were slowed due to COVID-19 which resulted in one of its big events of the year to be cancelled, 2020 Coosapalooza Brewfest, she thinks the future of the organization and downtown Wetumpka is bright.
“We have every reason to believe we will progress and get better,” she said. “During my time as director we have focused on foundational work. We really had to focus on those elemental aspects of downtown revitalization.
“We will get to a point where we are working on more consistent events and brand identity and garnering an even larger audience. The really fun stuff is what is going to hopefully begin soon.”