OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Oregon City earned a national award Wednesday, named one of three Great American Main Streets in the U.S. for 2018.

The award is decided by judges involved in historic preservation and community development across the country.

Oregon City won for efforts that date back to 2009. Since then the Downtown Oregon City Association has helped attract $42 million in private and public investment in Main Street.

Along the way it landed more than two dozen new businesses along the street.

Inside Black Ink in Oregon City.
Inside Black Ink in Oregon City.

Black Ink coffee and tea shop is one of those new businesses. Inside it also holds the White Rabbit book store.

The businesses opened last August and sit at the end of Main Street near the closed Blue Heron paper mill.

The owners grew up in the area and have seen a lot of change.

“Oh yes, even and I mean its changing leaps and bounds all the time. So even when we looked at this building it was boarded up and we were heckled when we went by. But we knew, we knew this was going to be a place people wanted to be,” said Danielle Walsh who owns the businesses with her husband Rolland.

They’ve re-done the inside of their 1919 building with the help of a $60,000 grant the downtown association helped them land.

It’s one of many new businesses in historic buildings over the last decade on this main street.

The Nebbiolo restaurant and wine bar right across the street from the courthouse is another.

“It was definitely a tumbleweed town before. Not a whole lot of anything down here," said owner Yvette Kirwin.

But she saw a future here and wanted in.

“And five years ago saw the potential of what’s happening downtown Oregon City and wanted to be part of the community."

It’s something folks who live in the area have noticed.

“The vibe, the culture, the arts, it’s a lot different than it used to be,” said Stephen Berry.

And those who like the change, believe it’s just getting started.