Portland's Strawberry Crate was honored by the Greater Nashville Regional Council at the organization's 52nd Annual Awards Luncheon, held on Sept. 25 at the Bluegrass Yacht and Country Club in Hendersonville.
The city was presented with an Excellence in Economic Development award for the display, which was envisioned by former Mayor Ken Wilber and completed after Mayor Mike Callis took office.
"We're very proud of it, and the credit goes to all the city employees," Callis said. "They came up with some great ideas at our planning meetings, right down to the positioning of the crate and the color of the mulch, and the construction crews put in a lot of hard work from painting to installing new sidewalks."
Since its installation, the Strawberry Crate has become a landmark for those visiting Portland and can often be spotted on social media.
"What's amazing is the constant stream of people taking photos," Callis said. "Folks have driven from Nashville to the surrounding areas to come see it, and they'll get a sandwich or a cup of coffee in the meantime."
The project's impact on the local economy is reflected through involvement from the Portland Chamber of Commerce and Sumner County Tourism, and representatives from those organizations also attended the luncheon to accept the award with Callis.
"The Chamber and city work so closely on many projects, and this one took a long time to complete," Portland Chamber President and CEO Sherri Ferguson said. "It's amazing to see it finally built and to watch the effect it has on our economy and the things that are going on."
When selecting award winners, GNRC reaches out to various communities and asks about any projects that could fit the bill.
The Excellence in Economic Development category is meant to recognize local governments that have achieved "outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to public services ... includ(ing) employment and business development, tourism promotion and education or workforce activities," according to GNRC's awards program.
Portland was among five governments to receive the award, along with Cheatham County, the City of Gallatin, Wilson County and Stewart County.
"It's always good to receive awards, and the Strawberry Crate was definitely something that had (a lot of) moving parts and pieces," Ferguson said. "To have been in a mayoral transition during the project as well, it makes it an amazing feeling to have seen it through and earned that recognition."