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Smithfield's Ava Gardner Museum Board of Directors Among Those Honored

SMITHFIELD, N.C. - On Thursday, January 27, the members of the Ava Gardner Museum Board of Directors were honored as 2010 Main Street Champions at the North Carolina Main Street Annual Awards Dinner in Shelby, N.C. They were selected for this special recognition by Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation in appreciation of their exceptional contributions to the downtown revitalization process. Along with Champions from 33 other communities, they received a certificate commemorating this designation, presented by N.C. Secretary of Commerce J. Keith Crisco, Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll, Assistant Secretary for Community Development Henry C. McKoy, Jr. and Office of Urban Development Director Liz Parham.

Each of the state’s active Main Street programs is given the opportunity annually to recognize a local Main Street Champion. The dedication and hard work of countless volunteers is required to make a local Main Street program successful, and the Main Street Champion designation acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of those persons who have played pivotal roles in the revitalization of their downtowns.

"Main Street Champions are those individuals in our communities who step out in front, lead by example, defend and support our downtown vision and mission, and advocate for change,” said Parham. "They are board members and volunteers, elected officials and government staff, business leaders, property owners and citizens who care. We celebrate these extraordinary individuals and thank them for their dedication," she said.

In recommending the Ava Gardner Museum Board of Directors for this honor, Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation offered the following:

For a decade, the vast collection of Ava Gardner memorabilia acquired by Dr. Tom Banks and donated to the town of Smithfield was housed in a series of temporary locations. When plans for a permanent location fell through, the Ava Gardner Museum’s board of directors was presented with the option of moving the museum outside of downtown and closer to Interstate 95. But encouraged by Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation and the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, the board instead chose to invest in downtown Smithfield, purchasing and renovating a 6,400 square foot building for the museum’s permanent home.

The new Ava Gardner Museum, honoring the Smithfield native and Hollywood actress, opened in October 2000 and has since drawn thousands of visitors to Smithfield to see the collection, which features extraordinary costumes, movie posters and awards that represent Ava’s 50-year career as a leading lady.

Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation is grateful to the Ava Gardner Museum board of directors for their commitment to downtown and pleased to recognize them as 2010 N.C. Main Street Champions.

Main Street is a downtown revitalization program for smaller towns based on economic development within the context of historic preservation. The North Carolina Main Street program, which provides technical assistance to its communities, is part of the Office of Urban Development in the Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance.

In 1980, North Carolina was one of six original states, selected from 38 that applied, to launch the work of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center. The North Carolina Main Street program began with five participating cities - New Bern, Salisbury, Shelby, Tarboro and Washington – in September 1980 and has since grown to include 61 communities across the state.

To learn more about The Ava Gardner or other downtown Smithfield merchants, please call Chris Johnson with the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation at 919-934-0887 or visit them on the web at www.downtownsmithfield.com.