TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) – The City of Talladega has been accepted into a top non-profit organization to help it to make a comeback.

This new Main Street Alabama designation helps communities statewide to spark new investment and growth.

But the city has already done a lot to attract the attention of this designation. Since December of 2020—local businesspeople have helped attract 13 new businesses downtown with two more signing after this designation. Community leaders say they want to keep that momentum going and replace vacant storefronts.

Talladega is loaded with history – featuring the oldest, still operational courthouse in the state – and already bustling with new life like the Donna Renee Collection – open almost a year now.

“I’m here, by the grace of God I’m here,” Renee said.

Her boutique opened as a pop-up shop in 2015, just now growing to a brick-and-mortar storefront.

“I love catering to people, making them feel special, happy along with showing them my wax melts to it smell good,” Renee said. “My mom always catered to the public. She sold and made things for people. Growing up and watching her, that’s what I wanted to do.”

She was part of 2nd Saturday, a small business incubator, offering a free space for vendors to improve their business plan. Kevin Smith helped to launch the program in December 2020.

“Once you feel comfortable, we’ll give you a foundation, show you some spaces available and try to make it work so that we can keep you here,” Kevin Smith said. “If we can do that in one of the hardest economic times in our history, having Main Street come in, oh man, this is going to be amazing. I look forward to it.” 

Main Street Alabama offers a playbook to continue the growth already started. Businesses like Miss April’s Workshop – a sewing shop by day and dance studio by night and Cookie with a Twist to curb that sweet tooth have already started to bring the energy.

“It’s not just about getting the designation; it’s about getting the work that’s going to come after getting the designation,” Chad Jones said.

Jones has been chasing this vision since the Ritz Theater was redone.

“To know that sure you’re building back to what Talladega was, but I think it’s even better than that,” Jones said.

Now, community leaders are waiting to follow that Main Street Alabama playbook to draw in new investors and learn how to make the current businesses here stronger.

“We just want to leave something better than how we found it,” Smith said. “I think that’s all we want to do, and I think Main Street helps us do that.”  

You’re encouraged to come visit if you haven’t been in a while to see what’s been happening and what’s to come. You can register for 2nd Saturday and learn more about entrepreneurial opportunities at the Talladega Bottling Works website.