By Amanda Yeager, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:37 PM EDT, July 8, 2013
Ellicott City's historic Main Street is about to get a fresh coat of paint. It's one of 20 towns across North America to win Main Street Matters, a contest sponsored by Benjamin Moore.
The paint company solicited nominations for worthy small towns and then asked the public to vote for their communities. Online voting started in mid-May and ran through the end of June.
As a winning town, Ellicott City will receive free paint and painters from Benjamin Moore to spruce up several blocks of Main Street in the next year.
Council member Courtney Watson, who represents Ellicott City, said the win was in large part due to a social media effort led by the county government and local businesses.
With County Executive Ken Ulman, she participated in a video that featured businesses and community members encouraging the public to vote in the contest. In the clip, a fake Brad Pitt wanders the streets of Ellicott City, admiring its shops and meeting the locals.
"We are thrilled that Ellicott City has been included in the list of towns, and it was a result of a combined effort between the community, local government and businesses to send in as many votes as possible," Watson said.
Howard County spokesman Mark Miller said Ulman was "excited" about the win. "He was very supportive of this effort to get this attention for Ellicott City," Miller said.
Ulman has committed $3 million in the county's budget for projects in Ellicott City, including renovation of sidewalks, curbs and stormwater management.
Dave Carney, president of the Ellicott City Business Owners Association and an owner of the Wine Bin on Main Street, said this was an "exciting" development for the community.
"I think it's going to boost business," he said. "I think we can capitalize on it and get some attention for the area."
Tom Coale, a blogger and former Columbia Association board member who is running to represent District 9B in the Maryland House of Delegates, said a fresh coat of paint for downtown Ellicott City will boost its already strong sense of pride.
"Having Ellicott City recognized as a treasure on a national scale is what's most exciting," Coale said. "Community pride will be the greatest win, and the paint is the cherry on top."