The Leesburg Partnership
In 1994, the Downtown Merchants Association, the City of Leesburg and the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce organized the Leesburg Downtown Partnership. The objective was to undertake a visioning process, develop committees and work toward a five-year revitalization plan.
A major early accomplishment was the designation of Leesburg as a participant in the Main Street U.S.A. program in 1994. The Main Street program outlined a course of action using four separate components: Outreach, Promotion, Economic Restructuring and Design.
Outreach: The first being outreach, soliciting people’s ideas and building a community consensus.
Promotion: The second component was the promotion of Downtown. Concern for the downtown image, retail sales and special events. An AutoFest and Spring Festival were begun.
Economic Restructuring: The third part of the base activities was the economic restructuring. Working to help existing businesses with seminars and marketing insights. Looking at the traditional users of downtown and how to expand and draw new users, visitors and residents alike.
Design: The fourth component of the process was the design component. Appearance, painting, upkeep, parking, landscape, and street furnishing are all a part of design. A design charette was held in 1995 and a streetscape concept was developed for a 30-block area.
In 1996 the City of Leesburg set up a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), which would allow the increased tax revenue from an improving downtown to be focused on physical improvements to the downtown area.
As each of the four components began to produce tangible results and funds became available, Leesburg began to flourish.
In 2000 the Partnership changed its name slightly to reflect the ever-growing vision that the organization was being asked to assume. Thus, The Leesburg Partnership became the name and its official statement of purpose:
The successful process used in the rebuilding of downtown is being applied to the State Road 27/441 Corridor Project. The State of Florida is committed to the process of completing an expansion of 27/441 to six lanes. The City of Leesburg has the opportunity to direct some of the State Road Expenditures to be included in that work. The project represents a new vision and welcoming presence that will serve the City and its residents through to the mid-point of the century. The 27/441 Project has been one of the many projects jump-started by the Leesburg Partnership’s influence in the community.