JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) – Over the past decade, ‘Jasper Main Street’ has focused resources and funding to grow and develop the downtown area and those efforts are being noticed.

The city of Jasper has been named on WorldAtlas’ list of 12 favorite Alabama small towns in the U.S.

Jasper was designated as a Main Street Alabama Community in 2015. Since then, the downtown district has made significant progress with new businesses, restaurants and a brewery.

Jasper Main Street Executive Director Mike Putman said since its inception, the downtown area grew from about a 75% vacancy rate to now just 5%.

Nearly 50 businesses have either started in or relocated to downtown and nearly $2 million has been invested in beautification efforts. Putman said all these efforts are to make downtown a prime location for business.

“It’s about commerce,” he said. “I mean yes, it’s quality of life events. People love music, people love food, people love beer. But the restaurants and the retailers are making bank that weekend. That, for me, is what’s it’s about.”

Putman said the next phase of revitalization is to bring more housing to downtown. He said they are working on plans to create loft-living options in hopes of continuing growth and business in the area.

Another big boost for the city is the Foothills Festival. The festival just wrapped up recently and had a record-breaking turnout with roughly 40,000 people visiting Jasper for the two-day event.

The next big event for downtown is its inaugural Oktoberfest, set for October 7th in Downtown Jasper.

You can learn more about Jasper Main Street and the businesses in the area here.