Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
December 11, 2020
Fernandina Beach’s Main Street program continues to showcase and assist the city’s central business district and the newly expanded Main Street district even as the program is changing leadership. At the December 1, 2020 Fernandina Beach City Commission, outgoing Executive Director Arlene Filkoff and incoming Executive Director Lisa Finkelstein briefed Commissioners on recent accomplishments and future goals.
Some accomplishments from the First Quarter of the Fiscal year include
- Hiring a new Executive Director
- Continuous updates to merchants on Covid issues affecting them
- Sponsoring the Pajama Party Contest
- Receiving a $25,000 grant from the Tourist Development Council to complete the downtown signage project
- Creating and marketing a calendar to include downtown businesses
- Creating Fernandina Main Street face masks
- Coordinating seasonal window painting with the Fernandina Beach High School Art Department
- Consolidating data and planning for expanding Main Street services into the recently expanded Main Street district
Objectives for the next quarter include:
- Developing post COVID strategies
- Providing online sales and social media training for downtown businesses
- Rolling out the Main Street expansion
- Replacing regulatory signage downtown
Arlene Filkoff, who became the program’s Executive Director following the resignation of Jeff Kurtz in 2017, is transitioning to retirement the end of this month. She has passed the baton to newly-hired Lisa Finkelstein, who is already becoming a familiar face to downtown merchants and visitors.
Filkoff, who has been extremely active in local organizations and activities, in addition to having served as Mayor Commissioner in the City of Fernandina Beach, waxed nostalgic on her latest retirement.
“My thoughts on leaving are of course mixed. I have loved downtown since we first set eyes on it. It truly is the heartbeat of the City. I loved serving as an advocate for our businesses. The pandemic really brought home how important advocacy is. We are so fortunate to live in a city where visionaries took such great care of what we have downtown. We just need to keep that work alive and that is the mission of Main Street. I cannot imagine a better person to take up this role than Lisa. She is and will be an extremely valuable contributor to this community.”
Lisa Finkelstein, who has jumped into her new role with enthusiasm, said, “First, let me say that it was the historic downtown that drew my husband and me to Fernandina Beach 11 years ago. It is the heart and soul of Amelia Island, a place of gathering, history, and commerce.
“Fernandina Beach Main Street has a special mission to preserve our history and maintain a thriving community – one where business owners succeed and the community loves to visit. I want Main Street to be an advocate for our District business and property owners while working closely with the City to provide vision, consistency, and the necessary resources to lead Fernandina Beach forward. We have worked hard to provide Covid-related information and assistance to local businesses and plan to be an integral part of the post-Covid strategy for our city.
“We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers leading Main Street. I hope to continue to develop our resources, both human and financial, as we work to carry out Main Street’s mission of preservation-based economic vitality for our community.”
For more information on Fernandina Main Street, including volunteer opportunities and ways to support their programs, visit their website FernandinaMainStreet.com.