Press release from the City of Hendersonville:
Michele Sparks, owner of Art Mob Studios in Downtown Hendersonville, was recognized among 38 other volunteers in North Carolina as a 2020 Main Street Champion. The North Carolina Main Street Program recognized champions for their commitment to downtown revitalization and strong communities during a virtual recognition ceremony on March 11 at 9:30 a.m.“There are three keys to economic development success: public-private partnerships that share in the effort and jointly celebrate the successes of projects; economic development strategies that leverage local assets for authentic enhancements and improvements; and local champions that are leading the effort every step of the way,” said Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. “The Main Street program throughout the state is the epitome of the implementation of these three key components of success.”“N.C. Commerce and N.C. Main Street have been recognizing Main Street Champions for more than two decades. We knew that the success of downtown districts was because of the people behind the effort, and each year, we recognize the visionary individuals that have a strong sense of commitment to their community. They develop projects that improve quality of life, grow cultural and recreational development, renovate historic properties and spur investment and create jobs and businesses,” said Liz Parham, director of the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center.Including the 2020 honorees, 804 Champions have been recognized since 2000.“Michele is a positive leader and creative problem solver among downtown businesses and the arts community,” said Jamie Carpenter, Downtown Manager for the City of Hendersonville, “we are proud to name her Hendersonville’s Main Street Champion.”Michele Sparks opened Art Mob Studios & Marketplace in 2011, creating an outlet for artisans to sell their work to downtown travelers. Starting with 25 artists, she now represents 86 artists from Western North Carolina and Henderson County, many of whom would not be able to have their own local gallery space without ArtMob. Shortly after opening, she jumped right into the Main Street Program and has been involved in every area of the downtown, from volunteering with events like Rhythm & Brews and organizing the Art on Main festival to supporting the ArtScape outdoor art gallery program.Downtown Hendersonville is a nationally accredited Main Street community and has been a North Carolina Main Street community since 1986 and follows the Main Street approach to grassroots economic development for historic downtown districts.