Faith Wilson is off to a quick start — as the new director and events coordinator for Main Street Zephyrhills Inc.
In about a month’s time, the 32-year-old has helped relaunch the organization’s website, created a community interview series, increased social media engagement across various platforms, and streamlined membership and sponsorship packages.
She’s also planning the organization’s 17th annual Music & Motorcycles event, set for Sept.11, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Main Street Zephyrhills is a 501c3 nonprofit that generally facilitates new business, and organizes large events and parades within the historic downtown district — particularly along Fifth Avenue.
Events include Music & Motorcycles, Halloween Howl and Zephyrhills Christmas Parade, among others.
Wilson was introduced during a Zephyrhills Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting June 28 at Zephyrhills City Hall.
She is a Lithia native, who lives in Lakeland with her husband and two children.
She graduated from Newsome High School, and studied liberal arts and architecture at Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida, respectively.
She officially began working for Main Street Zephyrhills on June 1, with a salary of $38,456.
Her role — as the organization’s only city-funded position — consists of serving as an advocate and liaison for the downtown district with initiatives to bring economic growth and community connections. The role involves working closely with the Zephyrhills CRA and other groups.
The organization relies on donations, memberships and partner organizations to help fund projects such as public artwork, family friendly events and activities.
Wilson’s background is in retail management, having been an assistant store manager and corporate leadership team member at Stein Mart. She also served on the advisory board for USO (United Service Organizations) Tampa Bay.
Wilson assumed the Main Street position vacated by Paxton McCullough, who held the role from June 2020 to May 2021. Before that, the role was held by Anna Stutzriem, who resigned in March 2020 after more than two years on the post.
Wilson shared her vision for Main Street Zephyrhills and the city’s historic downtown, a subject broached by CRA Commissioner Lance Smith during the meeting.
“I see opportunity overall,” Wilson responded. She cited the potential for events, particularly markets because they draw the community out — something that was hampered by COVID-19.
“When people get out in the community and they shop local, they see their local friends, they see their neighbors out there, it really brings that bond and sense of community back together, and hopefully from that, (people) become inspired to continue to come downtown and support their local businesses,” Wilson said.
Describing herself as personable, as well as a person of action, Wilson said “I want the community to feel like they know me and that they can talk to me at any time.”
She has been keeping busy with Main Street functions.
Initial tasks included being a part of the well-attended Seventh Street Mural ceremony back in late May.
The vibrant mural, titled ‘Ocea,’ is located on the south-facing wall of 5210 Seventh St.
The outdoor event gave residents a chance to mingle with the mural’s artists, partake in refreshment, take pictures and spend time together in downtown.
“That was quite a success,” Wilson said. “It was positively received, and it was a nice community event, especially post-COVID, for everyone to get out and see what we’re doing in the Main Street sector.”
Wilson also has updated the organization’s social media platforms, ensuring presence on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, SnapChat and Instagram.
“I’m keeping up with all of that,” Wilson said. She also is “trying to cater to all age groups of the Zephyrhills community and let them know what Main Street is doing,” she said.
Wilson has been doing a livestream interview series, in which she dialogues with various Main Street members and business owners “to let the community get to know the people behind these organizations, so I think that’s going to be very helpful with connecting the community.”
The most recent interview piece featured Habitat for Humanity ReStores representatives, which can be found archived on YouTube.
Wilson’s “big project” has been the relaunch of a new Main Street Zephyrhills website, MainStreetZephyrhills.org.
She shared details of the website on the council chambers’ projection screen, during the meeting.
The fresh site includes several new user-friendly features and accessibility tools, such as shortcuts to information about dining, shopping, events, activities and service experiences throughout town.
There’s a detailed downtown Zephyrhills business directory, providing information including address, phone number and links to their respective websites.
Other highlights include a city events calendar and listing of upcoming Main Street projects and attractions.
There’s also a business entrepreneur resources toolkit that lists available vacant properties for lease, as well as how-to information about licenses, permits, loans, utilities, community connection opportunities and more.
The website is ADA-compliant, with accessibility tools to alter contrasts and text sizes, too.
Wilson worked closely on the project with The Social Connection — a Land O’ Lakes based marketing agency specializing in website development, social media and graphic/digital marketing, particularly for start-up companies and small businesses.
The website undertaking involved “many, many hours,” Wilson acknowledged.
CRA Director Gail Hamilton, who serves as Main Street’s ex-oficio, attested: “She’s providing content and she’s having to pull teeth from everybody to get the content to put on there,” also noting that Wilson often has been tackling details, late into the evening.
Hamilton commended Wilson’s efforts.
“She hit the ground running with this (position),” said Hamilton, “so we are very excited about the future.”
Other city leaders came away impressed with Wilson’s presentation and overall work, over the short time frame.
“I think she’s doing a great job, and I think we’re going to see Main Street grow and begin to flourish,” said Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe.
CRA Commissioners also happily observed Main Street’s complete roster of volunteer board members — something that’s been a challenge for the organization in the past.
In fact, Poe pointed out the local Main Street chapter was “very close” to shuttering about a year ago, because there weren’t enough board members per state requirements for a period of time.
Besides Wilson and Hamilton, other key Main Street figures now include president Linda Kerns, vice president Devin Alexander, board members Antwon Gildon, Christin Bennett, Sarrah Vesselov and Grant Posner, treasurers Martin Harm and Keith Wolfe, and Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson.
“We’ve got a great mix of residents who live in the downtown neighborhoods who work and have businesses in the downtown area that are really committed to this,” Hamilton said.
Published July 14, 2021