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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies Grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities.

Communities across Missouri run successful farmers’ markets that grow their local economy through entrepreneurial and micro business development as well as business growth resulting in establishing brick-and-mortar locations in downtown storefronts. These farmers’ markets have been growing in popularity over the years and the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for their growth as people searched for safe environments and ways to support local economies. Downtown farmers’ markets are a source of downtown activity that bring people downtown and provide safe environments for people to shop local while keeping their money in the local economy and supporting local businesses as the downtown businesses reopened. In Missouri Main Street’s network Old Town Cape, Main Street Warrensburg, Downtown Joplin Alliance, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, and Historic Downtown Liberty are farmers’ markets run by Accredited Main Street programs.   

 

 


Toward the end of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in Missouri, Main Street Warrensburg saw a significant increase in the number of vendors and shoppers at their market. This increased interest in the downtown farmers’ market indicated to them that they had an opportunity to recruit and transition some of the vendors into brick-and-mortar businesses as well as solidify shoppers’ support of downtown. In addition, with all the buzz around the farmers’ market they could now revisit their dream of having a permanent location for their farmers’ market. 


The Warrensburg Farmers’ Market has been located in various downtown locations since its inception in 1996. As the market grew, the need for a permanent dedicated space became clear. Warrensburg Main Street, wanting to ensure the market stayed downtown, saw the opportunity to develop a plan through the Downtown Strong Grant. They applied for and received services from the Downtown Strong Grant to develop a master plan that would provide the tools needed to move their vision forward.

 



Initially, Warrensburg Main Street was considering a partnership with a downtown church and began discussions regarding a long-term lease of property that could serve as a more permanent location for the market. As discussions progressed, it became clear that a partnership with the city was a more sustainable and appropriate solution. A site was located on the west edge of downtown that encompassed existing parking lots and an obscure open space. Their grant consultant, Russ Volmert with FORA Planning, noted that these spaces could be converted into a dynamic, beautiful new public space. He envisioned the space becoming a ‘town commons,’ “a place where the community can thrive in the downtown and a place for the greater Warrensburg community.”

 



Through discussions with key stakeholders from Warrensburg Main Street and the City, Russ developed project goals and a scope of work. He would provide a site inventory/analysis, a schematic master plan, and preliminary cost estimates. Together, these could be used to generate support and help with future fundraising as well as in grant applications. The plan would create a multi-use space that could provide parking, recreation, event space, and a permanent home for the Downtown Warrensburg Farmers’ Market. More than a mere narrative it would be artistic and beautiful, adding to the aesthetic of Downtown Warrensburg and would attract people even when there is no programmed event scheduled.


Working with FORA Planning meant that both the organization’s eight-year discussion of a downtown public space and a permanent downtown location for their farmers’ market were finally within their grasp.

 

The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities.


Main Street Kirksville is home to the Moonshine and Lace Boutique owned by sisters Laura Harvey and Michele Thurlo. These sisters took a risk in becoming entrepreneurs in 2017 by starting the Moonshine and Lace Boutique as a mobile boutique traveling to fairs, festivals, and events. They primarily utilized Facebook for their advertising and developed a good following. At the urging of their customers, they opened a storefront in downtown Kirksville in October 2019. Following the opening of their brick and mortar location, they were excited about the traffic and sales they were generating. Laura and Michele were looking forward to the 2020 spring and summer season on the downtown square with the desire to participate in the many neighborhood events, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

 

 


As a result of the pandemic, they had to temporarily close their newly-opened storefront in March of 2020 even after using safe precautions and implementing regulations. With their storefront closed, they relied on their website and Facebook page for continued sales. Customers that made purchase online and on Facebook were offered porch pickup. However, their sales were low as they felt the impact of the difficulty of receiving inventory, supply chain issues, and inability to work directly with models and customers.

 

Months after closing in June of 2020, Moonshine and Lace Boutique was able to reopen, but the entire Kirksville downtown area struggled with low traffic. Laura and Michele worked with other downtown businesses to create some small events to help increase traffic, but they knew they needed more. They applied for the Downtown Strong Grant to help them increase their online sales and expand their business promotions.


Moonshine and Lace Boutique was awarded the Downtown Strong Grant and worked with Dana Thomas from BOLD Marketing, who reviewed their existing ecommerce website platform. As a result, BOLD did extensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work and training. BOLD updated and provided support for the boutique’s Google My Business profile, connected accounts to Google Shop and Facebook, and developed and launched a 2-month Google search ad campaign that helped identify best practices for their audience’s shopping habits.


To enhance their business promotion, BOLD provided Facebook support and ad designs, reviewed Moonshine and Lace’s email platform, and designed email assets to use for customer engagement. They reviewed their existing referral program and made recommendations for an improved platform. In addition, Dana helped them develop ways for getting their message out on a local level and ideas for downtown events where they could partner with other businesses on the downtown square.

 

 


Laura and Michele are grateful for the Downtown Strong Grant opportunity and commented  that they felt that learning about SEO has been huge for them. They said, “They started with no knowledge of it at all and now have direction.” The energetic and willing-to-implement attitude of the owners combined with BOLD Marketing’s expertise and support has given Moonshine and Lace Boutique the tools they needed to help navigate the challenges of opening a storefront just prior to the pandemic.


The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities. These communities have been receiving technical assistance through services and trainings that deliver economic development strategies, resources, and final products that strengthen businesses and local Main Street organizations negatively impacted by the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


The Historic Independence Square in Independence, Missouri is home to Corporate Copy Print who has serviced countless clients for their communication needs over the past 27+ years. Prior to 2020, the owner of Corporate Copy Print had been planning on a succession plan for a while. No matter the size or age of a company, transitions can be rough. Corporate Copy Print is an anchor business for the local economy. It was important to get the succession of its owners correct for the longevity of the business and the health of the local economy. The planning was good and the timing was right for the retirement of the founding owner, yet leadership was struggling with identifying the best way to achieve the transition.

 


 


Then, in March 2020, Corporate Copy Print experienced a devastating blow. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Corporate Copy Print went from a booming print shop with a staff of twelve to a ghost town of two within ten short days.  Despite the company’s increased productivity through investment in equipment, streamlining of processes, and their long-time emphasis on diversification, the damage was done by the pandemic shutdowns and slowed economy. As time passed and companies were able to resume business in limited capacity with safety measures in place, business picked up again and, along with the Payroll Protection Plan, the business was able to call back most of their staff.

 


The owner of Corporate Copy Print saw the opportunity in the Downtown Strong Grant to work with professionals to address their top needs and help them recover from the punch of 2020. They needed help with a transition plan and, realizing that social media is key, help with a social media plan and engagement. To address the needs of the company, they were connected with two consultants, one to help with the transition and one to address their social media marketing needs.

 


MarksNelson worked with Corporate Copy Print to analyze their business and provide clarifying direction for their succession plans that had been in place. The plan had been to transition ownership to an employee that had been working in the business for over five years, but there were a lot of considerations and they needed a little guidance. Owner Tom Waters remarked that the information provided by MarksNelson really helped with their transition which is now in process.

  


Pictured above left to right: New owners Jeff McLaughlin and Emily Penrose McLaughlin and previous owners Tom Waters and Susan Waters.


On the social media side, Mysamaris worked with Corporate Copy Print on developing a plan to increase their engagement. They knew this was a key area of marketing they needed to focus on. Reaching their current and potential clients with engaging and consistent messaging was an identified struggle. Mysamaris guided them through the process of developing a plan, a calendar, and budget suggestions along with tips on implementation that would engage their clients in a way that would set them apart from their competitors by reflecting their desired brand identity of being lighthearted and fun.

 


The Downtown Strong Grant helped Corporate Copy Print through a transition process that businesses don’t always survive.  Tom noted that assistance through the Downtown Strong Grant “could help the next owner keep this Main Street business viable for another 27 years.” Transferring the ownership from the long-time owner to an employee took a strategic, deliberate, and well-timed plan. Corporate Copy Print and its owners not only made it through the transition, but are thriving on the other side!

 



The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities.


The impact of COVID, plight of the Pharaoh 4 Cinema in Independence, Missouri, and need for assistance was illustrated with poignant words in their Downtown Strong Grant application which resulted in the award of services. After being awarded the grant they would narrow their services in order to maximize the impact with their business’ capacity.

 

 


The story of the Pharaoh 4 Cinema is a decades long story of transformation where this independent movie house survived and changed with the tides of the industry. In 2006 they moved from a “dollar-movie house” to a first-run theater. Then in 2014, like many other independent movie houses across the county, they underwent a forced update on their projectors from film to digital, as the movie industry changed. They survived this huge financial undertaking and thought they had made it through their toughest time. However, the pandemic caught them off guard, just like everyone else.


Theaters were an industry hit hard by the pandemic when deemed unsafe to operate due to the potential spread of COVID. Pharaoh 4 Cinema found itself in a vulnerable position, but they knew there were innovative paths to engage with consumers. If it wasn’t for the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant, they may not have been able to implement new strategies. The grant has opened the opportunity to navigate how to operate during this era of individualized technology.



Cindy McClain, from the McClain Restaurant Group who manages Pharaoh 4 Cinema, said, “Theaters hold an important place in our culture, in our communities, and our hearts. They are truly magical places; our theater is no different” in their application. They just needed help in continuing to make the magic happen.


Pharaoh 4 Cinema worked with BOLD Marketing to improve their website and provide online sales as well as develop opportunities for additional income. Dana Thomas at BOLD worked diligently to provide a website that was functional, easy to navigate and update, and included opportunities for advertising and theater rental. In addition to incorporating on-line ticket sales, BOLD worked with the Pharaoh staff to develop specific opportunities that could be included on the website.  In addition, she developed collateral materials and then helped them promote these opportunities in other ways. This project required working with multiple vendors and became quite challenging, but BOLD was able to work through the problems, train the Pharaoh staff, and provide troubleshooting in the first few weeks of implementation.

 

 


As with so many of the Downtown Strong grants, the service provided went far beyond the expectation. This was not just the development of a website or ideas on helping increase sales. It changed the way Pharaoh 4 Cinema could do business, taking back ownership and full control over their website. It is just one of their tools, but one that will help them overcome their past challenges and “make magic” happen into the future.

 

The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies program is provided through a grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact 20 Missouri communities. In these 20 communities, there are 62 businesses and 16 organizations that have been and will be impacted as this grant continues to work with awardees. The Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis is home to the Neighborhood Innovation Center (NICstl) who applied and was endorsed by Downtown Dutchtown, a St, Louis Main Streets program.

NICstl is a startup 501c(3) nonprofit that was created in 2019. Formed from the founders' desire to put a vacant bank building to productive use, it provides a place-based innovation community in Downtown Dutchtown. Innovation communities are places where groups of entrepreneurial minded people can come together and share their thoughts, ideas, struggles, and resources in the pursuit of their goals of innovation.

The Dutchtown neighborhood is a small neighborhood commercial district on the south side of St. Louis. It is surrounded by residential and a growing base of local businesses. The commercial district is part of Missouri Main Street Connection’s St. Louis Main Streets program. Unlike other areas of the St. Louis Metropolitan area, the area has no business incubator, maker space, workforce training center, or other entities that offer similar services to the NICstl. Thus, the NICstl provides this resource desert with an oasis for the residents and businesses in the area.

NICstl requested assistance in updating their business plan to achieve the three pillars of innovation, excellence, and ownership of their building through identifying suitable financing options. The three pillars would allow NICstl to:

  1. Become a center of digital training & cloud certifications for residents while preparing them for quality jobs and supporting local businesses.

     

  2. Become an incubator for small/micro/nano/solo enterprises and an accelerator for existing small business or nonprofits in digital transformation.

     

  3. Provide direct business support programs - matching local talents and global network of professional volunteers to Downtown Dutchtown businesses (Neighborhood Talent Pool and Small Business Help Desk).

 

Jon Stover & Associates, LLC worked to address the pillars and help NICstl define and articulate their mission, update their business plan, and evaluate funding options.

The funding was a critical piece for NICstl.  In October 2019, they entered into a 3-year lease agreement with an option to buy their building at the end of the lease. But, just six months later the pandemic changed everything and the operation of NICstl became even more critical to the neighborhood. During the beginning of the pandemic and still today they act as the center of collaboration among all main community eco-system partners. They needed to purchase the building by the end of their lease, or they could lose the building and their ability to provide these services.

Together, Jon Stover & Associates, LLC and NICstl narrowed their funding options and prepared NICstl to apply for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program through the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Through donations for tax credits, the program would allow NICstl to raise funds for the purchase and renovation of the building. The application was submitted by NICstl and successfully awarded in July of 2022, in time to complete the sale by the deadline. There is still a lot of work to do, but not only is this a success for NICstl, it is a true success for the Dutchtown neighborhood. A win-win!

The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities. During the application phase of this grant, the Downtown Excelsior Partnership saw this as their opportunity to apply for assistance, and thought outside the box to consider how they could leverage current activities, additional funds, momentum, and partnerships to get the most out of the Downtown Strong Grant.  As a result, Downtown Excelsior Springs received two unique services that will assist in gaining new businesses, utilizing empty properties, and directing people to all downtown businesses.

 

 


Excelsior Springs is a naturally beautiful city, with reminders of the City’s historic mineral water resources reflected both inside the city and in its surroundings. Because of these influences, the street layout is unique resulting in many businesses being located off the main corridors but within the downtown Excelsior Springs district. Downtown Excelsior Partnership’s first service was to find solutions to showcase the downtown businesses located on these side streets. This is being accomplished through developing a Wayfinding Plan that could outline their signage needs and layout, with a strategic focus on making sure people knew where the businesses are and how to get to them. This was due to their current signage’s limitations and narrower focus which didn’t necessarily direct people to businesses and parking. Through the grant, the Downtown Excelsior Partnership and its volunteers are working with Fora Planning and the City of Excelsior Springs to develop a plan that everyone can utilize, and that the city will help implement.


Downtown Excelsior Partnership has also been able to updated their Market Analysis and built a Real Estate Development Strategy including business recruitment ideas with their second service. These services were completed by Joe Borgstrom of Place + Main. Both of these enhance Downtown Excelsior Partnership’s ability to strategically impact their downtown’s economic base by knowing the needs and having a plan to address them. Then, Downtown Excelsior Partnership took these plans and invested, through additional funding with the City of Excelsior Springs’ grant program, in developing the plans further through Joe Borgstrom to provide in-depth market analysis, detail strategies on improving business and real estate development, and finally, provide strategies to develop and recruit business
specifically for some of their high-profile empty buildings.

 

 


Leveraging their resources and building partnerships allowed the Downtown Excelsior Partnership to multiply their results from this grant! These plans will realize results into the future as they continue to be utilized by every entity involved. Leveraging, diversified budgeting, and utilizing available resources is integral to how local Main Streets continue to have extraordinary and long-lasting impacts in their communities. Without opportunities like the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant and many others, that 501(c)3 nonprofit main street organizations can apply for, many communities would not have the capitol or equity to access community-saving services or implement community revitalizing strategies.


The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities. One of the recipients, Clinton Main Street, recently received their final deliverables. Clinton Main Street was awarded the Downtown Strong grant in 2021, which included two services that their Executive Director and Board of Directors identified as opportunities for the organization to enhance their capacity to serve their district and its business owners.



 

Clinton Main Street was able to turn the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic into an opportunity to better connect with their businesses one-on-one.  This approach of intentional engagement with business owners in the downtown district during a time of economic uncertainty helped Clinton Main Street better understand their businesses and their needs. In addition, they were able to form a clear picture of the real strengths, opportunities, and areas where their organization needed help.  


The first service they received from the grant assisted them with their need for a robust building and business inventory. These two inventories would allow Clinton Main Street to better identify and document information about the businesses and properties in their district. Using the information gathered for these inventories allows for an accurate understanding of the district and easy accessibility to develop a recruitment plan that would seek businesses that fit their specific gaps. Jim Thompson, Downtown Economic Development Specialist from Iowa, was the consulting expert that worked with them and gave them the tools to do just that. Jim first conducted an on-site walking tour, then gave a presentation to staff, board, and volunteers that provided information and data specific to their community. On top of the presentation, he helped Clinton Main Street understand their market and learn new processes. When he left, they had the information needed to build their recruitment plan, more knowledge about how to use information, where to get information, and how to build and maintain a useful and relevant building and business inventory. Jim said of the district, “Clinton is an interesting example of quality downtown development opportunities.”

 

 

Example (above): The downtown map was originally provided as a proof to Downtown Waterloo by Jim Thompson and Main Street Iowa.

 


The second service that concluded their grant was the development of a Service Business Engagement Plan that would accomplish the goal of reaching the large number of service businesses in their district. Clinton Main Street worked with Dana Thomas, of BOLD Marketing, to develop this Service Business Engagement Plan. After an on-site visit, Dana worked with Clinton Main Street to identify strategies to better communicate the value proposition of Main Street as well as ways to better engage with service businesses specifically. These tactics included opportunities driven both by Main Street and by the businesses themselves. BOLD also identified ways for Main Street to assist the businesses through various trainings and support specific to the service industry, as well as trainings and support for all businesses in the district. In addition, BOLD provided creative graphic email assets to assist Clinton Main Street further in engaging their businesses.

 

 

 

 

Tina Williams, Clinton Main Street Director, says “The Downtown Strong Grant gave our organization the opportunity to assess what we needed and put plans in place to achieve those goals. We recognized we wanted better relationships with our service businesses but had no clue where to start. Working with Dana at BOLD was wonderful because she did background research to identify our needs, and gave us a clear plan to follow with lots of talking points, ideas, and data. Using this we can potentially bridge the gap and turn naysayers into our best defenders and assets! We have gone from clueless to informed, prepared, and ready in such a short time; we could not have achieved that on our own!”

  

 

The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The pandemic has been a true test of the resiliency for communities across Missouri. As we continue to navigate a world still battling various strains of the Coronavirus, many communities across Missouri have started to make a comeback. They have adapted their business model, implemented health and safety protocols in their business, and have received aid from private and public sources to get the help they need to take their business to the next level meeting the needs of today’s consumers.  This is true for Earl “Chip” Smith Jr. who is a recipient of the Downtown Strong Grant that Missouri Main Street Connection provided in partnership with the Economic Development Administration in 2021.

 

In early 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic, Chip quit his job to start his own business, Cross Grand, in a building in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis. He anticipated a robust business of interior photography and video shoots of weddings, sports, and special events using his honed skills of narrative building, photography, videography, and other mediums to tell people’s stories well! His plan was to use his indoor space at 3304 Meramec as a multi-purpose space to facilitate shoots and consultations. These dreams were soon halted as the pandemic took over and most in person events were postponed or cancelled. Yet Chip didn’t let the pandemic squash his dreams and successfully pivoted to virtual videography as a new revenue stream.  


 

As the pandemic continued through 2020 and into 2021, Chip knew that his pivot to include virtual videography would not be enough to continue to sustain him for much longer and he needed to set himself up to take advantage of the market as soon as things started opening up again. That is when he took advantage of Missouri Main Street’s new Downtown Strong grant that opened in 2021 to Missouri Main Street programs, of which Downtown Dutchtown was a part of the new St. Louis Main Streets pilot program. Chip saw this grant opportunity that would provide direct business consultations to support downtown businesses through a variety of services.  He applied and was awarded the grant. Chip was paired with BOLD Marketing to rework his website in order to take his creative agency to the next level and increase his sales.  He also needed help to rethink creative ways he could increase his return on investment and better utilize his space.


BOLD Marketing has worked with Chip to revamp his website and rethink what he was doing and how he was doing it. Setting him up for success by teaching him how to market himself and his new refreshed website. They had quickly figured out Chip needed to up his game – Chip said “They helped my business by simply giving me confidence in showing off my website. In the world we are living in now it's all about image and I think my new website represents what Cross Grand is – Quality!”  As part of the grant, Chip received training on managing his website and utilizing marketing tactics to grow his business.

 


This article was prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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A good idea doesn’t always translate into a successful business.  There are steps and details along the way that are necessary but often overlooked. The Hive by Honey Creek was one of those “good ideas.”  The entrepreneurial minds of a sister duo in Lebanon, Missouri had already successfully created Honey Creek Media when they had the idea for “The Hive.”  In their words, “a space for makers to make, minds to grow, ideas to form, and networking to thrive.”  A traditional hive is full of worker bees and that’s what these sisters wanted to foster. The Hive by Honey Creek was to be centered around co-working and rental event space. They had purchased a historic building in downtown Lebanon that was being renovated…but they needed help with the details.


They saw the Downtown Strong grant as an opportunity to move their idea forward. They applied and asked for someone to help in evaluating their idea and developing a business plan. BOLD Marketing assisted in the development of their process, amenities, pricing comparisons, the structure of their leases and rental agreements, and even a liquor license for events. In addition, BOLD helped them develop a “community norms” document or expected behavior for their tenants. To wrap it up, BOLD had it all evaluated by an attorney.

  



It is the details that can make or break a business. The Lebanon sister duo was delighted and grateful they used the Downtown Strong grant to help with their business details. In their words, “As entrepreneurs in a rural community, we are passionate about opening our doors and creating a home, a place for people to gather, a space to cultivate ideas and secure dreams, a site to celebrate, a destination.”   Now they have the plan and tools to do it.

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Cape Girardeau, Missouri sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and is the home of over 300 downtown businesses and 4500 downtown residents. It has one of the largest Main Street districts in the nation encompassing 130 blocks and was a 2015 recipient of the Great American Main Street Award through the National Main Street Center. Receiving a Great American Main Street Award is a distinguished honor of recognition for Main Street programs that have demonstrated exceptional use of the Main Street Approach™ and have a strong organizational capacity spurring community transformation and historic preservation, all of which is true for Old Town Cape. Cape Girardeau is truly an amazing place!

 

 


Cape Girardeau continues to develop, seeing more business and more people, as Old Town Cape, the Accredited Main Street Organization for Cape Girardeau, and other community partners work together towards a strong, vibrant, and diverse community. Old Town Cape viewed the Downtown Strong grant as a great opportunity to strategically focus their organizational capacity and to flesh out plans to address some ongoing community concerns around crime, homelessness, and safety. After having success in aiding development downtown through initiatives and partnerships that have brought projects downtown increasing the number of jobs and businesses and developing the streetscape of downtown, they wanted to use the grant to make the downtown environment even more conducive to growth.


These community concerns affect especially the local citizens’ view of downtown and Old Town Cape wanted to address the issue head-on. They are receiving assistance through the Downtown Strong Grant to develop an Amenities Plan to address community concerns, help create a more positive attitude toward downtown by locals and visitors alike, and create a more welcoming and safer environment.


After a two-day site visit, fact-finding, and interviews with key community and downtown stakeholders, Jay Schlinsog of Downtown Professionals Network assisted in the development of a two-pronged plan, looking at specific policies that can impact and manage homelessness, crime, and the environment by addressing lighting, activities, storefronts, and litter. Through the development of this strategic plan, Old Town Cape has been able to engage with additional partners, learn more about local services, and be more aware of the situation. Now that they are in the initial steps of implementing components of the plan, there are countless possibilities of how Cape Girardeau will begin to tackle the concerns of its community.


To impact some lighting concerns, the police are using a newly acquired lighting trailer to temporarily illuminate dark areas of a parking lot. The Old Town Cape Board held one of their recent meetings at the newly renovated home of a local social service agency downtown that addresses homelessness issues. The Board gained first-hand insight on the homelessness issues and ways to make an impact. Along with developing a strong partnership with an organization that can help in constructive and restorative ways, they are learning tips they can pass on to businesses as well.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Old Town Cape, through the Downtown Strong Grant, is working to foster a safer and more welcoming environment that in turn will promote even more growth, and allow them to better serve their community.

  


The service highlighted in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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