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Enhancing the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of historic downtown business districts in Missouri.

Public and Private INVESTMENT

$1000000000

Net new businesses

834

Net New jobs

4109

volunteer hours

444113

Designated Missouri Main Street communities report economic impact in their districts each quarter. Cumulative totals for the program.

 

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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.

 


EDA Acknowledgment Statement

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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We have calculated the numbers of the Downtown Strong grant, which are impressive. However, the important takeaway in the end is the impact. Good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of the Downtown Strong Grant program to see this impact in small businesses in Missouri communities.

 

Let’s look at The Rail 1868 Restaurant & Tavern in Lebanon, a new restaurant that received a Downtown Strong grant. They had purchased their historic building in March of 2019 and started remodeling shortly afterwards. They got through most of the challenges of working on an old building and set their opening for March of 2020. But then COVID happened, delaying their progress a year. They opened their doors after that delay and have been going non-stop.

 

But this delay of their opening by a year facilitated a change in their plan. The leadership team of Chris, Nicole, and Ronda had a combined 50 years of restaurant experience in the industry and developed what they felt was a solid plan.  They needed help making sure their plan was still on track and needed help refocusing on some of their business processes in order to become the best version of their vision. They wanted to set some goals but wanted to be realistic about what they were trying to accomplish. They wanted help to make sure they were marketing themselves appropriately. So, they asked for help through the Downtown Strong Grant with their business processes and marketing.

 

The process is still on-going, but the initial parts of the process were extremely beneficial. Nicole said, “We have had our first initial meeting with Vicky of Cygnet Strategies and that meeting went great. We gained some wonderful insights into the directions we could go in increasing our revenue centers, expanding our customer base, and even missed opportunities to take advantage of our strengths. We also were able to breathe a sigh of relief when she agreed with our vision and mission for our business as a whole! Just hearing we are on the right path gave us a little pep in our step.” 

 

Vicky said, “Ronda, Nicole, and Chris are a stellar example of how harnessing the power of family, working to your strengths, and being skilled enough to jump in and help wherever you’re needed drives sustainability when managing a restaurant. They were open to new ideas to deal with their challenges and were eager to start implementing right away.”

 

Finalizing each service will insure the maximum benefit for sure but let’s not ignore the good along the way!

  

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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The end of December is here, which means the closing of the year 2021 and what a year it has been. Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has many things to be thankful for with one being the partnership with the Economic Development Administration for the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant.

 


Looking at the numbers, the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is fulfilling its mission by building more resilient economies and stronger downtowns across the state through strengthening organizations and businesses in Main Street communities. In 2021, Downtown Strong grant committed to assisting 17 Main Street organizations and 63 businesses in 20 communities from Trenton to Joplin and Washington to Campbell.  MMSC and 12 consulting firms have been working to deliver services to various communities that were scheduled for 4th quarter 2021 into 2022 under this grant. 

The Downtown Strong grant is working in a variety of communities with populations ranging from 1,800 to 98,000 and Main Street programs run solely by volunteers to programs with multiple staff members. The grant program includes a wide range of downtown business types including retail, restaurants, personal trainers, interior designers, artists, a food co-op, and an innovation center. These grant participants are working to contribute to their community and strengthen their business through this process.

 

Missouri Main Street Connection and our team of consultants are excited to carry the momentum we have into 2022 as we finish delivering services in some communities and businesses and start working in new communities and business that have been scheduled in early 2022.

  


This update 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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Holidays are when Main Street comes alive and becomes increasingly busier as community members and guests shop, visit, and enjoy downtown and the events that take place during the winter holiday season. This means both the local Main Street organization and its businesses are busy meeting the needs of their customers. As a result of the holiday frenzy, on-site visits are slowing down a bit, but there is still a lot of action in the Downtown Strong grant program.

 

The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant has been successful so far due to its scope, which is to strengthen individual businesses and local Main Street organizations that have faced hardships due to the pandemic, by providing one-on-one consultations.



 

There is some flexibility in these services that allows the consultant to adapt their delivery to meet the most current needs as they work with the businesses and organizations. This process ensures recipients are receiving what they need for long-term success. 

 

Our team of consultants use their years of professional experience in evaluating the needs of the businesses and organizations to provide services that address true needs. In addition, the consultants are collaborating as the need arises when they work with businesses or communities that are receiving multiple services. These services often overlap or affect the other and consultants are working to make the process as efficient and effective as possible.


 

 

Over the last month our communities and consultants have seen good movement along the progression of this grant. BOLD was back on-site in Dutchtown providing training for The Wink which included setting up protocols, roles, and talking through strategies for ads with follow-up training planned in January to teach them to fully manage their social media and advertising.

 

Downtown Lee’s Summit started work with Jim Thompson who is helping them figure out the best ways to utilize and track information for future development as Lee’s Summit changes overtime, with many changes happening right now. This includes learning how to read demographic surveys and information of the community and how to best manage and utilize their building and business inventory. Also, during the past month, Downtown Strong Project Manager Marla Mills was able to visit and follow-up independently with several businesses in Lee’s Summit.


 

 

Jim Thompson also worked on-site with Clinton Main Street to develop the best process to use their demographic information for business recruitment.

 

Ben Muldrow with Arnett Muldrow and Associates did some on-site work in Trenton and, along with Jim Thompson, worked with Main Street Chillicothe as they work on recruitment, district marketing and upper story development.

 

Russ Volmert with Fora Planning was on-site with Downtown Lee’s Summit and Downtown Excelsior Partnership working on wayfinding plans. In addition, he is working with Warrensburg Main Street on a public space utilization plan. All things that will support the future development of these three downtowns!

 

The rest of our consultant team continue to work behind the scenes on research, strategies, and plans when not on-site with our communities. With the Holiday season starting, the on-site visits are slowing down, but that doesn’t mean work has stopped.


 

 

If you have any questions or want to chat about this program or your services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills.

 

The services detailed in this update 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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Missouri Main Street Connection and our team of Downtown Strong consultants began onsite visits in communities across Missouri. After a busy month with coordinating calls and Zoom meetings, consultants are now having on-site visits where they can gather more information about the business and organizations they will be working with.

 

BOLD Marketing has been in Cape Girardeau, Dutchtown (St. Louis), Lebanon, and Clinton. Cygnet Strategies did a whirlwind tour of Carthage, Joplin, Lebanon, and Independence. MarksNelson has visited Lee’s Summit. Downtown Professionals Network spent time in southeast Missouri at Cape Girardeau and will be traveling to Campbell soon! Jon Stover & Associates will be landing in Warrensburg the first week of November.

 

If your community hasn’t started the process or hosted a consultant yet, don’t worry. Much of the work is being done virtually or in advance of visits. Our partner consultants have hit the ground running and still have more work to do.


We are finding that most of our participating businesses and organizations are better than they think and have such great potential! They have made it through the roughest time of the pandemic. And now many need help managing change and figuring out how to grow their business in this new business environment. Some need guidance on the ever-changing media platforms and how they can share that they are “open for business” and want to continue to serve their customers or clients. Business owners have felt that the visits have been helpful because they are able to talk to someone with a fresh and knowledgeable perspective. And often they know the answers but need affirmation.


After meeting with one business, Vicky Soderberg with Cygnet said, “We came up with ideas that they could run with starting today and they are definitely a poster child for what is possible!”


The impact of the Downtown Strong Building Resilient Communities Grant program will be that the participating businesses and organizations will be stronger, more resilient, and better able to reach their awesome potential!


If you have any questions or want to chat about this program or your services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills.

 

The services detailed in this update 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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There is a lot of action in the Downtown Strong Grant world now that the consultants have hit the ground running. 

 

We are working with 12 different consultant groups who all are passionate about helping each business and organization be successful and thrive!


Approximately 90% of the 65 businesses and 17 organizations have had initial contact with their consultants and an initial meeting of some sort (mostly virtual) with their consultants. In these meetings, the consultants have learned more about the business or organization and asked a lot of tough questions to see where the business or organization stands, if anything has changed since the application process, and what they want to accomplish. It gives them the information needed to provide the best services possible within the grant guidelines and budget.


Some of the consultants have already set up on-site visits over the next couple of months and all are moving as quickly as possible to deliver their services. MMSC plans to also have a presence at as many of these on-site visits as possible to strengthen this partnership (business/organization – consultant – MMSC) and to continue to grow these relationships.


If you are one of the businesses or organizations who have not yet had initial contact with your consultant, don’t be concerned. You will hear something soon! Each of the consultants are working in their own unique way and on their specific timelines, but all are committed to this program!


If you have any questions or want to chat about this program and services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills. We can’t wait to see the impact of this program on Missouri’s downtowns and their businesses!!

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