Albemarle resident named a North Carolina Main Street Champion

Albemarle resident Edna Lipe-Harkey was recognized this week as one of 38 North Carolina Main Street Champions last year for her work in helping promote downtown Albemarle.

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 N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Community Assistance.

Since the recognition started in 2000, 375 champions have been honored by the N.C. Department of Commerce. Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael was recognized as a Main Street Champion in 2021.

“North Carolina’s most important asset is the people that live and work in their communities, and our Main Street program teaches our communities how to leverage this invaluable resource into positive economic change,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a press release.

Over the last 40 years, 113 communities have participated in North Carolina Main Street. More than $3 billion has been invested in buildings, infrastructure and public improvements. Albemarle became a Main Street community in 1993.

Lipe-Harkey served many years on the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation’s board of directors, including as its chairperson the last two years. She has also served on the ADDC’s Holiday Tour of Homes fundraiser for the past 10 years and has assisted with many beautification projects including the alleyway improvement initiative near Courthouse Square Park and helping with seasonal flower and hanging basket plantings.

“I’m so honored to be recognized and extremely humbled because there are so many doing so much, including my husband Kent, who was also recognized with this award a few years ago,” Lipe-Harkey said.

Edna Lipe-Harkey was named a 2022 N.C. Main Street Champion. Photo courtesy of Edna Lipe-Harkey.

She noted that more than 40 years ago, she and her husband “took a leap of faith” in coming to Albemarle and getting invested in the downtown and they “are so excited” to see more people doing the same.

Lipe-Harkey, a retired teacher, hopes other residents feel the need to get involved with volunteer opportunities in the downtown area.

“If we all pitch in and do what we can, the possibilities are endless,” she said.

The N.C. Department of Commerce and The N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center present the N.C. Main Street Annual Awards each year. These awards recognize the success of NC Main Street communities and their achievements in the four points of the Main Street approach to downtown revitalization: economic vitality, design, promotion and organization.