PROSSER -- Years of patience and persistence in downtown Prosser have paid off.
The Lower Valley town now is a full-fledged Main Street community.
It and Gig Harbor joined the list of Main Streets in Washington, bringing the state total to 12.
The designation, awarded through the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, recognizes progress made in renovating the downtown and may help attract visitors, as well as grant funding for even more improvements.
"It's really only the beginning," said Alisa Groenen, executive director of the Historic Downtown Prosser Association, an organization of businesses that applied for the honor.
The two communities were the only eligible applicants for the state designation.
Prosser started working on revitalizing its downtown core more than a decade ago, including on-again, off-again efforts at renovating the
Also in 2005, downtown businesses formed the association and renovated many of their buildings. The group also installed new benches, bike racks and trash cans, while organizing events such as the Halloween Scarecrow contest, city cleanups and movie nights at the Princess Theatre.
In March, the association began offering zero-interest loans up to $5,000 for members wanting to make facade improvements, paid for business and occupation tax breaks.
Prosser Mayor Paul Warden said the designation should help boost visits to the town, known for its wineries.
"That has some cachet with knowledgeable tourists," he said.
Officials with the state's Main Street Program announced the news Thursday night at RevitalizeWA, Washington State's Main Street and Preservation Conference.
Groenen learned of the honor in late April but was not allowed to discuss it with media until after Thursday's conference.
For weeks, she and city officials have been referring to a vague upcoming announcement on Facebook pages, newsletters and blogs, and spilling the beans to local business owners, making it the least-kept secret in town.
Prosser officials will celebrate with live music, presentations and refreshments at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of the Benton County Courthouse, 620 Market St.
The Main Street Program, administered by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, uses state tax credits to encourage incremental downtown improvements built around a city's historic architecture and locally owned businesses to encourage economic growth.
Other Washington Main Street cities are Chelan, Ellensburg, Kennewick, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Puyallup, Walla Walla and Wenatchee.