Downtown Russellville Collective names director

The Downtown Russellville Collective, which formed last year as the city pursues Main Street Alabama status, now has a leader in place.

This past week the DRC announced Ann Epperson McDermitt as its first executive director, effective Feb. 1.

McDermitt comes to the group with more than 30 years of marketing, communications and public relations experience, along with a background in fundraising, grant seeking and finding alternative revenue streams for nonprofit causes, according to the DRC.

The group said it also expects to benefit from her understanding of architecture and historical restoration, as she holds an interior design degree from Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. She also recently completed two certifications through Southeast Tourism Society – Tourism Marketing Professional and Festivals and Events Planner – which give her additional experience and authority.

McDermitt has also served on the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and as a council member for the Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council.

“I want to reposition Russellville’s historic downtown business district as a robust and growing force for economic development in our state,” said McDermitt, a Russellville native who returned to her hometown in 2015 after living away for 30 years. “I would like to be the person to lead this work toward the Main Street designation goal.”

Russellville is presently a Main Street Aspiring City – a new program created by the state group to help prepare cities on the cusp of being ready for full affiliation. Since the Aspiring designation was announced in August 2022, progress has continued fairly quickly. Main Street hosted a community meeting at the Historic Roxy Theatre in September 2022 to share information and discuss next steps, and board members began to be sought for the Downtown Collective.

Russellville will present its application for full Main Street membership May 24.

“The Main Street Alabama program offers the structure, resources and guidance our community needs to encourage vibrance and positive growth in Russellville,” McDermitt said. “The DRC plays an important role in increasing the collaboration and local capacity for a thriving downtown, which will serve our current residents and also attract visitor interest as a destination.”

McDermitt is expected to lead the DRC during its time as a Main Street Alabama Aspiring City.

“We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Ann onto the team and working with her to gain designation and move forward with our goals,” said Julie McKinney, current DRC board president. “Her experience in architecture, marketing communications strategy and business development will work well with the Main Street Four Point Approach and be especially useful as DRC continues its path to a designated city.”

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