Cuero re-enters Texas Main Street program
By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
March 4, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated March 3, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
After a more than 20-year absence, Cuero is back in the Texas Main Street Program.
Cuero was recertified for the program in October and officially re-entered in January, one of three towns in Texas selected for the program, said Cuero City Manager Raymie Zella.
Cuero was originally in the Main Street program from 1985-90. There are now 84 cities in the program.
Cuero has considerable downtown historic resources, and in the first few months back, leaders have shown passion and enthusiasm for the program, said Debra Farst, the program's state coordinator for the Texas Historical Commission.
One of those leaders is Cuero Main Street manager Bridgette Bise.
Bise worked as the executive director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau from August 2009 until June 2011.
She was hired in February 2012 as the city of Goliad's community and development coordinator, which included overseeing that city's Main Street program.
On Nov. 20, the Goliad City Council placed Bise on a 90-day performance improvement plan.
She resigned in January.
"We felt her 17 years of experience in related fields was the reason she was the best fit for Cuero," said Zella. "We are starting from scratch and felt Bridgette can come in and hit the ground running."
Bise will work under the direction of Cuero Development Corp. Executive Director Randall Malik.
"I believe that a vibrant downtown is critical to economic and community development," Malik said.
Zella, Malik, Cuero Mayor Sara Meyer and Charles Papacek, president of the Cuero Development board of directors, made up the search committee.
We sat down with Bise for a question and answer session on the Cuero Main Street program.
What attracted you to the position in Cuero?
I always felt Cuero was a missing piece for some marketing we could do for the Main Street communities along Highway 183, from Luling to Goliad. I thought it was a great idea for Cuero to be part of that. There's a Highway 183 corridor where we could do some cooperative marketing.
There's a lot of growth in Cuero. They have great leadership in the city offices and on council. There is a very strong mayor, and she and I have a lot of the same visions for what we'd like to see for downtown and for Main Street. I felt like it was a good fit.
How does your experience mesh with the Main Street program?
My 17 years of marketing experience are in tourism. I oversaw the Main Street program in Goliad and was on a Main Street board of directors in Oklahoma and helped get the Main Street program started in Victoria, where I was on the board.
What are Cuero's unique assets and unique challenges as they relate to the Main Street program?
We have some buildings that could use some rehab in downtown, and we have a lot of opportunities. We have several buildings that have already been redone and restored, and it's great to be able to see the before and after. Now that the city is behind this program, both financially and with the tools and opportunities for business owners to apply for grants for funding to do rehab on their buildings, it will help keep that engine moving toward keeping the heartbeat of downtown operating. That's where the heart of your community is - downtown.
What are the ultimate goals of the Main Street program? What do you hope to accomplish?
We will focus on the revitalization of the downtown area through marketing, events and historic preservation. The main focus the first few months will be on organization and infrastructure. A board has been selected. We're writing bylaws. We'll be making some committee appointments.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The resource team from the state will come in for three days and work with myself and board, business owners and community leaders on establishing goals and objectives. Our board members will have training in April.
The first two weeks here, I got out and met a lot of the downtown business owners and renters. Everyone is really excited about having the program and wants to see it succeed.
It's going to be great. There are a lot of positive things going on in Cuero.