Thirty-three North Carolina Main Street Champions were recognized for their commitment to downtown revitalization and strong communities in 2021 during the recent NC Main Street Conference.  Including this year’s group of honorees, 837 Main Street Champions have been recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce since 2000.

The Downtown Garner Association was honored to nominate past DGA Chair and Board Member Jihan Hodges as Garner’s 2021 Main Street Champion. Downtown Development Manager Mari Howe shared the following in her nomination of Jihan Hodges:

Since joining the Downtown Garner Association in 2017, Jihan Hodges has been an amazing asset to Garner’s Main Street program. Bringing her energy and passion to the table, she plays a big part in making Downtown Garner’s signature events successful. Jihan puts in long hours, acting as volunteer coordinator, and looking for opportunities, big and small, to make downtown events better every year. Often the first to arrive and last to leave, Jihan’s commitment is unparalleled, and her assistance is invaluable to the downtown manager. During her four years on the downtown board, Jihan served as vice chair and chair, leading the organization as an advocate for a catalytic public-private development project on Main Street and guiding annual planning efforts to build on downtown’s strategic assets.

The 2021 NC Main Street Champions were honored in a virtual recognition ceremony on March 10.  Representatives from the NC Department of Commerce attended to congratulate the new Champoions.  “There are three common elements that are found in successful communities.  These elements are asset based economic development strategies, public and private partnerships, and local champions,” said Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary of Rural Economic Development at the N.C. Department of Commerce.

“Main Street Champions are the key to success in downtown revitalization. They possess courage to move downtown forward; they fight for positive change and do that with creativity and innovation; and they actively get things done, while staying focused on the downtown’s economic development strategies,” said Liz Parham, Director of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center at Commerce.

The Downtown Garner Association would like to thank Jihan Hodges for her dedicated service and enthusiastic contributions to Garner’s Main Street program.