The Aiken Downtown Development Association has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.

With this accreditation, Aiken is now listed as a "mentoring community" which will open up opportunities for other communities coming in, Haley Knight, director of the ADDA, said. 

The ADDA was chosen due to successfully demonstrating their "thoughtful, intentional approach to strengthening their community," Main Street South Carolina Manager Jenny Boulware said in a press release. 

"(The ADDA) is being recognized for generating extraordinary economic returns, preserving community character and celebrating local history," Boulware said.

The ADDA’s performance was evaluated by Main Street South Carolina, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify local programs that meet national performance standards.

The organization evaluates the communities to make sure they are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards that foster strong public-private partnerships, document programmatic progress and actively preserve historic buildings. 

The ADDA paid to be a part of the organization and will meet with them quarterly to understand how to better develop the downtown area, Knight said.

Though it is ADDA receiving the award, Knight said that opportunity is a benefit for Aiken in general.

"This (accreditation) considers us the top of the top for this organization," Knight said. "We are hoping this will open up a lot more opportunities for funding, which will better help us meet our mission."

The ADDA will receive signage from Main Street South Carolina, which will add to tourism.

Main Street South Carolina has been helping revitalize historic downtowns for more than 35 years.

Its local Main Street network has more than 25 communities that share a commitment to place and to build stronger communities through asset-based economic development.

Since 1980, communities participating in the program – nationwide – have leveraged more than $79 billion in new public and private investment, generated 640,000 new jobs and 143,000 new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 284,000 buildings.