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April 11, 2022 Group Watch: Alabama’s “Small Town Downtowns” Making a Comeback

Cities in rural Alabama are seeing a rebirth in their downtowns, with a blitz of new business opening, property renovations and multimillion-dollar investments. Pop-up shops, green spaces, art festivals and social media buzz are among the trends that are helping drive the efforts to bring merchants, residents and visitors back to the heart of the community. Some areas are seeing an increase in downtown living and Airbnbs. The pandemic proved that people can live anywhere and continue to work virtually. More entrepreneurs are investing in downtowns, and much of that activity involves small-scale producers, such as breweries, distilleries, fabric makers and coffee roasters. In the past two years 23 communities with a population under 50,000 have reported 160 net new business openings, along with 450 property improvements from private investment totaling $38.5 million.

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