Main Street Zephyrhills annually puts on some of the city’s largest and most popular downtown events, such as the Festival of Lights, the Founder’s Day Parade & Heritage Festival, Music & Motorcycles, and others.
The 501c3 nonprofit, too, has been a crucial component in several large public projects of late — cultivating interactive art murals and mounting wireless electronic speakers downtown to serve up daily music for pedestrians, for example. It also works with city leadership on other initiatives, such as installing public Wi-Fi downtown and more public park benches.
The organization’s varied efforts have not gone unnoticed: It recently was designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month by Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee.
The selection was based on its development achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street program.
Since its founding in 1994, Main Street Zephyrhills has reported more than $19.5 million in public and private reinvestment, more than 1,000 new jobs, and 185 new businesses within its district boundaries. It also has accumulated more than 26,000 volunteer hours.
“I am so impressed by Main Street Zephyrhills’ growing success,” Lee said, in a release. “Their district continues to build on the community’s assets to celebrate and recognize their distinctive history and heritage.”
The monthly honor is believed to be the first for Main Street Zephyrhills, according to the organization’s coordinator, Anna Stutzriem.
“I was just floored when they called and told me about it,” she said.
Under Stutzriem’s leadership, Main Street Zephyrhills has seen business and residential membership increase more than 10-fold in the last 2 ½ years, rising from seven members to 82.
Last year, the organization achieved national accreditation by the Main Street America program “for generating impressive economic returns, preserving community character, and celebrating local history.”
Stutzriem began as a Main Street volunteer about five years ago, working her way from board member to coordinator — the organization’s only city-funded employee position.
The majority of the organization’s funding comes from memberships, sponsorships and donations.
Stutzriem, who also co-owns a day care center in Zephyrhills, credited the organization’s string of accomplishments to its collection of “hard-working” and “dedicated” board members and volunteers.
She estimates the organization has roughly 130 volunteers to 150 volunteers throughout the year, ensuring events and programs run smoothly and effectively.
“They’re just people in the community that care about the community, and I think that helps a lot,” she said. “These people come in, they get paid nothing, and they give their blood, sweat and tears, and I’m just so honored to be associated with them.”
The amount of support and collaboration from City Hall has likewise led to more completed initiatives throughout the municipality, Stutzriem said.
“The support we get from the city is just amazing,” she said. “I look at the other Main Street programs, we talk, and I think we have got to be one of the most supported Main Street…and I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
Main Street Zephyrhills facilitates new business to the historic downtown district, offering commercial property listings on its website, and a resource guide for entrepreneurs to get in contact with the proper city officials, such as the planning department and CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency).
Within the last couple months, the organization helped welcome a new hair salon and a CBD store to Fifth Avenue in downtown Zephyrhills, Stutzriem said.
Stutzriem explained the organization’s role like this: “Our mission and our goal is to promote not only the downtown, but our local businesses, our mom and pops. We want to make our downtown a destination, and a safe, fun place for our families and our communities to come to…”
While generating more downtown business is important, Stutzriem emphasized it’s important for Zephyrhills “to keep that small town charm.”
“We’re growing leap and bounds, we’re just exploding over here in Zephyrhills with growth, but I still think it’s important to have the small town, know your neighbors, and gather with them,” she said.
The organization’s event hosting has been “improving greatly” in recent years, she also noted.
For instance, December’s Festival of Lights drew somewhere between 13,000 to 15,000 attendees. She characterized that turnout as “quite extraordinary for a small town event.”
The organization, too, has gone about drawing bigger acts to events — such as booking the Greg Billings Band for September’s Music & Motorcycles.
Event partnerships with nonprofits have expanded, Stutzriem said. Those partnerships include Gulfside Hospice on Paulie Palooza; Zephyrhills/Wesley Chapel Ministerial Association on the Harvest Festival; and Zephyrhills Pregnancy Care Center on the Founder’s Day 5K race, among others.
To find out more about Mainstreet Zephyrhills, visit MainStreetZephyrhills.org, or email .
Published March 18, 2020