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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018 3 months ago

Waters bids Main Street farewell

Plant City Main Street has lost its second executive director in less than two years. Jane Waters has officially taken an opportunity with the city of Haines City.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Plant City Main Street is once again without a leader.

Jane Waters was brought on as interim executive director in November before officially securing the role shortly after.

2018 Junior Royalty Baroness Giselle Elena McDowell participated in the strawberry shortcake eating contest at the themed food truck rally led by Waters and Main Street.

When first hired, she said she was planning on remaining in Plant City for a minimum of five years or “as long as it takes to get the downtown master plan implemented, greater foot traffic on the streets and better marketing for merchants and business owners.”

The Human Volcano started out his performance at a food truck rally by warning children to not attempt to recreate his stunts at home.

However, an opportunity in Haines City — which also happens to be in Waters’ home county — was one she said she could not pass up, leaving the position vacant for the second time in less than two years.

“The absolute bottom line is that it is a significant pay increase,” Waters said. “I have the opportunity to work within the city, which means benefits and all those things that we’re looking for as an employee. Also, the city manager and I have known one another for quite a few years and we’ve done a lot of community work together here. Not to mention Polk County is my home county. It was an opportunity I didn’t feel I would get again and I didn’t want to miss it.”

Waters said she is more than happy to be of assistance if Main Street needs her advice or help over the next stage of its journey. 

“I really believe Plant City has greater opportunity than many other cities that have Main Street, they just do,” Waters said. “Somebody once said to me the greatest asset in Plant City was its people and I completely agree with that.”

Though she was not at its helm for long, Waters brought many changes to downtown. She helped theme the monthly food truck rallies, was part of kickstarting the monthly Hot Coffee Series, began connecting multiple groups throughout the city to start the process of cooperative and cohesive planning and, in her own words, established movement and committees.

The next step for the organization, Waters said, would have been fundraising, which she admits is the hardest piece of the puzzle for any organization.

“I think Plant City desperately needs to keep their Main Street in place, it’s doing well,” Waters said. 

This is the second time Plant City has attempted to bring the Main Street program to the city. When Main Street initially was established in 1985 the city was one of its first charters in the state. Its reign was short lived and it didn’t return until 2016.

Waters said reestablishing a program is basically starting over. There were and are many roadblocks the group has to face, but she said that they are all the normal organizational hurdles every group must overcome. Working closely with the city, the Chamber of Commerce and the Plant City EDC will ensure Plant City continues to have positive balanced growth, Waters said.

Lizzette Sarria, chairman of Plant City Main Street, said they currently are accepting applications for an executive director to fill Waters’ spot. That opportunity will remain open until mid-August, when the board will begin reviewing the submissions.

If all goes according to plan, she said they hope to have a new executive director in place by September 1.

As for the future of Main Street, Sarria said it will be entirely dependent on the result of discussions regarding funding they are having with the city.

“We have a lot of things planned, we’re excited and we feel like a lot of foundation has been made,” Sarria said. “We feel like the movement is going in a positive direction.”

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