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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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Progress is a big deal in Main Street from the first façade renovation and new businesses opening downtown to being recognized for your local Main Street organization’s preservation-based economic development efforts. This year, two local Main Street organizations have been recognized for their accomplishments in implementing the Main Street Approach™ through progressing to the next tier in the Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) tier system. MMSC is proud to recognize Downtown Joplin Alliance and Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization for their achievement of Accredited and Associate tier placement respectively.

 

The Downtown Joplin Alliance achieved national and state accreditation from both Main Street America (MSA) and MMSC. Accreditation is the highest level a Main Street program can achieve and indicates that Downtown Joplin Alliance is exceeding in implementing the Main Street criteria impacting their local district in big ways. The National and State designation of accreditation came after Norma Ramirez de Miess, MSA, and Keith Winge, MMSC, completed an on-site review of the organization’s implementation of the Main Street criteria. Reaching this benchmark does not mean revitalization ends as it is equally important to maintain the accreditation status once earned.

 

In 2021, Downtown Joplin Alliance, through their program’s strong historic preservation ethic, active Board of Directors and committees, as well as other technical aspects that help the program function at a high-level, saw public and private investment of over $45 million in the historic district from 36 projects. The district saw a net gain of 19 new business and 54 new jobs. Additionally, volunteers for Downtown Joplin Alliance donated 1,425 hours of their time. Downtown Joplin Alliance celebrated this accomplishment with a cake from the City of Joplin and said,


“This would not have been reached without our staff, our board, our committee members, our other fabulous volunteers, and all of our fantastic partners, such as Joplin City Government, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and Connect2Culture amongst many others.”

 

   


The Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization was selected as a new Associate tiered Main Street program with Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) following a program review by MMSC.  Associate designation is recognized by MMSC as a way to distinguish communities that are working toward being recognized as a national and state Accredited Main Street program.  As a stepping stone on the path to full accreditation, this benchmark highlights communities that are seeing an increase in the economic value of the downtown and is making progress to achieve an active and vibrant downtown revitalization organization.

  

During 2021, Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization continued to implement historic preservation-based economic development in uptown Jackson that cultivated $461,382 total investment in downtown, 22 net new jobs, and 2,272 volunteer hours. Their impact has created a place for people to gather, live, and work in uptown Jackson

 

You can read the press releases written by MMSC staff through the link below:

www.momainstreet.org/press-releases/

 

The Main Street Approach™ is a time-tested economic development and historic preservation-based approach utilized successfully over the past 40+ years by over 40 coordinating programs and 1,200 neighborhoods and communities nationally. Missouri Main Street Connection’s program’s purpose is to implement this approach in creating vibrant communities across the state. The current Main Street criteria that is used to gauge the effectiveness of how a Main Street Program in implementing the Main Street Approach™ is based on over 40 years of successful downtown revitalization and demonstrates that empowering individuals to develop their downtown motivates high achievement, creates a place people will want to live, work and invest, and makes our state economically stronger. The goal of the National Main Street Center and Missouri Main Street Connection is to encourage preservation-based economic development through the Main Street Approach™.

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These projects added heritage tourism to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant was awarded to Charleston Revitalization Movement (CHARM) in March of 2022 with the project completed in September of 2022.


Charleston Revitalization Movement (CHARM) is a newer Main Street community in the Community Empowerment Grant program but their history and local significance runs deep. From being the lifelong residence of the 46th Governor of Missouri, Warren E. Hearnes, who was the first person in Missouri history to serve in all three branches of the state government to their high school basketball team’s, the Bluejay, twelve state championship titles, the community has a variety of heritage and history to celebrate. It is this deep, rich history that would be on display with a 24’ mural in a welcoming pocket park following the transformation of an overgrown vacant lot left after a building was removed.  

 

Charleston Revitalization Movement’s (CHARM) overall project is broken up into two phases with phase one being the mural and intial development of the pocket park. During phase one, the first step was to address the condition of the space for the pocket park by removing a tree and overgrown brush and poison ivy.

  

      


After clearing the lot, the concrete pad of the old building was exposed allowing for CHARM to preserve it with safety modifications for its new use. As the work was being done on this project CHARM said,


“On more than one occasion, visitors to the area stopped by to see what was taking place as well as offer encouraging words of how much they enjoy visiting our town and how beautiful the architecture and the atmosphere is.”


Next, a 10’ concrete ramp was installed for ADA accessibility and benches placed for locals and visitors to enjoy. The mural was then installed in the park. It is a digitized collage of artwork from three local artist that is printed on weatherproof materials depicting the Mississippi County Courthouse surrounded by beautiful dogwoods and azaleas, the Old Train Depot, a farming scene, a tribute to Charleston High School’s Bluejay Basketball team, and a portrait of Governor Warren E. Hearnes. Lastly, CHARM brought in planters and botanicals to spruce up and soften the space with nature and greenery.

  


 

The Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant has mobilized Charleston Revitalization Movement (CHARM) into action to address a void in their community and by doing so created the perfect environment for people to come together as CHARM wrote in their final report,


“This project has allowed local organizations and city leaders to join forces for the common good of the community. Local business owners have pitched in and contributed in-kind donations of their employee’s labor to help get the larger tasks completed. The community is pulling together and healing from the impact of the past few years.”


With the collaboration between CHARM board members and volunteers as well as Charleston community members in transforming the overgrown property, this space will be able to be used by the community for years to come. The excitement from the development of this space in Charleston has created a buzz for the locals and has sparked excitement in the community resulting in “people signing up to get involved in not only this project but future projects as well.”

  

 


Now that phase one has been completed, Charleston Revitalization Movement (CHARM) is waiting for the winter season to pass before moving forward with phase two which will include an elaborate selection of botanicals planted for year-round enjoyment. They also planned to bring additional enhancements to the pocket park in the spring of 2023 for the annual Dogwood-Azalea Festival in April. CHARM had heard many visitors express that they plan to return to see the finished project. Now that the pocket park and mural are ready to greet visitors, CHARM will share their story online to bring back visitors who saw this project in the works as well as new visitors to see what is unique and special about this town and its Main Street.


Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.

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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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There are countless decisions that Main Streets have to make throughout the year such as should we continue doing an event or how do we communicate the impact that this event has on the community and its businesses. Analyzing the effectiveness and impact of an event can be tricky because it requires the right data for Main Street’s board and staff to make informed decisions. Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street utilized geofencing to garner valuable data on the attendees of their largest event as their free technical service through Missouri Main Street Connection available to Accredited Main Street programs in Missouri.

 

 


Geofencing uses GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary enabling software to collect data when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.  Since geofencing is coming from cellphone data, it does not register anyone that is not carrying a cellphone or has GPS location services off.  In Main Street applications, geofencing is used to create a boundary around the Main Street district or specific area of downtown to gather information about those visiting the district. This is a technological upgrade from zip code surveys where Main Street businesses and Main Street event volunteers ask visitors for their zip codes in order to track where visitors are from. Geofencing now allows this to be done in the background.  While geofencing registers mobile devices that enter or leave the selected area, it only denotes general information from the mobile device, but not any identifying data. Instead demographic information is viewed from primary trade areas that represent areas where a significant number of attendees visited from. 

 

 


Missouri Main Street Connection worked with Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street to gather demographic information with a third-party company on those that attended one of their largest events, Downtown Days.  This is a three-day event that the Main Street leadership believed attracted thousands of attendees, however they never had a good way to measure if it was true.  They also thought they knew what cities many of the attendees were from, but it was only a guess. Through the use of geofencing they would have solid data to turn there guesses into an understanding of the demographic profile of those in attendance and to measure the number of attendees to better measure the impact of this event.

  

 


The third-party company collected the information from a map and boundary of the festival grounds that they determined with Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.  The company also collected data from the weekend following the festival from the determined boundary to include in the data set to compare to a standard three-day period for reference. 


From the data collected during Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s Downtown Days, almost 65,000 people attended the festival. The geofencing company used the criterion “register devices that have remained in the geofenced area for seven or more minutes” to ensure that the data collected was an accurate reflection of event attendance and not simply people driving through the map. Below is a heat map showing where people gathered within the festival grounds once they entered the festival. 

 

 


The map below is a visual reorientation of the data collected based on attendee’s location of origin that shows the Downtown Days event draws people from as far away as Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and Nebraska. St. Louis, Des Moines, and Springfield were three metro areas that also showed a high volume of attendees that originated from there.   Of course, most of the attendees were from the Kansas City metro area. This information will help determine marketing and advertising for the event in future years. 

 

 


The two charts below showed what times garnered the most traffic and how long people stayed within the festival grounds, which was on average 116 minutes.  

 


The data goes on to share demographic and market information for the typical attendee based upon where they are from.  This information provides an insight into the spending habits and purchasing power of this group.  The data dives into median household size, household income, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.  All the information that was provided through this geofencing technical service will provide a guide for Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street to better understand the attendees for their event, help determine future programming and advertising for the event, inform vendors about traffic counts that allow them to stock enough product, and to manage public safety procedures for the crowd size. 


If you are interested in geofencing your Main Street district or festival grounds, please reach out to Keith Winge, Missouri Main Street Connection’s State Community Development Director for more information.  

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These projects will add heritage tourism to the economies in each community. The Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant was awarded to recipients in March of 2022. Communities started on a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. Upon receiving the grant, the City of Sedalia got started right away on their project which is a mural reflecting Sedalia’s rich railroad history.

 


Pictured above: Back row left to right:Building owners Julie and Harry Hoffert, Muralist Stefanie Aziere-Sattler, and Robert Hayden and his daughter Cathy van der Linden. Front row: Third Ward City Councilman Lucas Richardson


Sedalia’s commercial historic district has been around since the late 1800’s with several buildings constructed prior to 1883. This gives Downtown Sedalia a rich past that draws many visitors annually. Joleigh Cornine, the director of the city-led Main Street program, shares that, “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic freezing Sedalia's cultural and heritage tourism in its place… the Historic Katy Depot welcomed 12,079 visitors.” With the number of visitors to the Historic Katy Depot declining 70% in 2020 as well as many area events and activities being canceled, the negative economic impact the pandemic had on Sedalia is illustrated with a loss of $110,335 in tourism revenue each year (2019-2020). Coming out of the pandemic, a City Comprehensive Plan was put together that outlined goals to position Sedalia as a safe, attractive place to work, live, visit, and celebrate special occasions. Part of this plan was dedicated to, “providing outside sources of entertainment where people feel they can safely socially distance.” This approach capitalizes on the country-wide cultural refocus on places that matter utilizing place-making, historic buildings, and showcasing artwork as a viable economic tool. By purposefully showcasing different aspects of Sedalia’s history through a series of murals which start with the mural between 209 and 211 S. Ohio Avenue and encourages guests to travel from one art installation to another. Guests can discover unique historic buildings and businesses while connecting with visual stories about Sedalia’s commercial historic district. 

  


Implementing this comprehensive plan, like any plan, requires funding.  Sedalia leveraged $5,000 from MMSC with public and private partnerships which enabled them to increase the size of the mural to be a 30’ x 20’. Stefani Azier-Sattler was commissioned to paint the mural on the Smith & Cotton Building based on her previous work in Sedalia including a mural on the Wildflower Beauty Co. building. The mural that was commissioned for the south side of the Smith & Cotton Building includes depictions of a steam train representing Sedalia's rich railroad history, the Smith & Cotton Building as it looked back in the days when it still boasted all of its original architectural glory, a P40 "Flying Tiger", and the B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber for the city’s connections with Whiteman Air Force Base. This project represents part of the first alley activation and was accomplished in stages by community members, business owners, partnerships, and city officials.

   

 

Pictured Above: Lift provided by Matt Mergen State Farm

Pictured Below: Integrity Soft Wash workers.

 

 


Julie and Harry Hoffert, owners of Stone Laser Imaging, granted the City of Sedalia use of the south side of their building, the Smith & Cotton Building, to be the home for the new mural. Integrity Soft Wash prepped and cleaned the mural wall with a low-pressure system as a gift-in-kind donation. The alley was closed off by the City of Sedalia with stone barricades at both ends to make sure that Stefani Aziere-Sattler and those working on the mural were able to do so safely. Martin Security Systems LLC has provided service to the City of Sedalia for Stone Laser Imaging's surveillance system for this area to ensure guest feel protected while in this space. The system will also address safety concerns that downtown residents and merchants had expressed to the city. Other improvements planned include better lighting and paving to increase pedestrian's safety as this alley is used as a conduit between public parking and area businesses.

 


As the progress on the mural was nearing completion, Sedalia promoted the businesses surrounding the mural through a “Businesses Around the Smith & Cotton Building Mural” promotional series. Among the businesses promoted through this series are The Pavilion by Frunell Companies which is home to twenty programed public events and open to be rented by patrons; Wilken Music which is home to the Scott Joplin Mural; RAKS Escape Room; and The Venue, LLC. These businesses will be impacted by increased foot traffic as people come to visit the new mural and then explore downtown. The plan to use Sedalia’s heritage to create entertainment opportunities centered around the arts as an economic tool for Sedalia and will bring even more visitors into its historic commercial district than before the pandemic.

 


Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) offers two matching grants to help downtown organizations with their economic development efforts.  The People Energizing Places (PEP) Grant and the Strategic Teams Engaging People (STEP) Grant are a two-year and one-year grants for services, respectively.

 


MMSC is currently working with Sedalia and St. Charles through the PEP Grant.  The City of Sedalia applied and awarded the grant in January of 2021 to start a city-led Main Street program.  City officials had previous experience with Main Street and wanted help forming a local Main Street program that utilized an already established downtown city commission to serve as the leadership team.  MMSC did not have a city-led Main Street program in Missouri but, through the national Main Street network, knew there were successful city-led Main Street programs in other states.  Keith Winge, State Community Development Director, reached out to various Main Street State Coordinators to learn the ins-and-outs of Main Street programs housed within city government.   

 


Nation-wide most Main Street programs are established as non-profit, public benefit organizations designated as 501(c)3 organizations by the Internal Revenue Service.  There are also 501(c)6 membership based Main Street programs and Main Street organizations established as part of city or county government entities.  Each format has pros and cons ranging from the ability to take advantage of grant opportunities and encourage volunteer engagement with the 501(c)3 to the stability of wages and benefits in a city or county program.  The 501(c)6 format serves members and is not eligible for some grants while a city-led program must work harder to get volunteers involved.  MMSC reviewed the pros and cons with the City of Sedalia and they settled on the city-led Main Street format. 

 


Keith Winge began transforming the current Central Business and Cultural District Board into the Main Street leadership Board of Directors.  A community survey and stakeholder input session also took place to gather input on how downtown is used and what the community would like to see downtown with regards to businesses and activities.  This input helped with the formation of Main Street Transformation Strategies, also known as economic strategies, to guide the work of the newly formed Main Street program.  Using that data and feedback, MMSC recommended the Main Street program focus on creating a family friendly and entertainment strategy.  The City of Sedalia’s Main Street committees, will begin planning projects and initiatives that will use the Transformation Strategies as their guide.  Guided work with MMSC through the PEP grant will continue until the end of 2022 to help the City build their Main Street program.

 


St. Charles is a different story in that their downtown district is one of the quintessential downtowns in Missouri.  It has very little vacancy and many thriving downtown businesses, but the district lacked a formal organization to keep those efforts going.  A group of business and property owners got together to apply for the PEP grant for help in creating a Main Street organization to keep the downtown thriving into the future.  In April of 2022 Keith started with a day-long assessment of the current stakeholder groups by gathering feedback on what was and was not working in the district.

 


The group had already established a non-profit, 501(c)3 and Keith began helping them fill the Board of Directors reflecting the various stakeholder groups, diverse skillsets, and demographics representing the community-at-large.  The Main Street principles and philosophy were taught to the new Board of Directors equipping them to lead this new organization.  This new board is now recruiting and forming the Main Street committees.  These committees will brainstorm projects and initiatives, develop action plans, and implement those plans.  This two-year grant is entering its second year with MMSC finalizing the administration of the grant in 2023 where the St. Charles Main Street organization will continue to develop the committees, determine priorities, and continue to build a strong foundation to keep the momentum going in downtown St. Charles for their future.

 


If your Main Street program or downtown are interested in one of MMSC’s matching grant programs, reach out to Keith Winge at kwinge@momainstreet.org or by calling 417-334-3014.

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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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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Exciting things are happening in Missouri Main Street Connection’s Community Empowerment Grant program! Currently, there are 16 communities receiving technical assistance through this program. The Community Empowerment Grant helps develop a strong Main Street board of directors & program while establishing strategies & implementation measures based on community feedback. The two newest communities accepted into the Community Empowerment Grant program are Grain Valley and Gallatin.


Grain Valley is a community of about 15,000 in eastern Jackson County. The City of Grain Valley and local partners have been heavily involved with revitalization efforts in the community. Recently, as part of those revitalization efforts, a survey was conducted asking for feedback on areas for future planning efforts. Downtown revitalization was one area repeatedly identified by respondents. With the community’s support, and in conjunction with local partners, the City of Grain Valley reached out to Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) and applied for the Community Empowerment Grant. Through the technical assistance and trainings provided through the Community Empowerment Grant, they will build a strong, sustainable organization to help lead downtown revitalization efforts. 

 

 

Pictured above is a building in Grain Valley’s commercial district which was provided by Grain Valley in their application.


Gallatin, the other community recently accepted into the Community Empowerment Grant program, is a community of about 1,700 and sits as the county seat of Daviess County. The City of Gallatin has been working with building and business owners concerning the direction of the downtown area and determined it was time to reach out to MMSC for assistance. With financial assistance from the Greenhills Regional Planning Commission, the City of Gallatin applied and was accepted into the program. In Gallatin, there is already a dedicated organization working to revitalize the downtown area, so MMSC is working with this organization to transition it into a comprehensive, Main Street-focused organization.

  

 

Pictured above is several of their storefronts on their commercial district which was provided by Gallatin in their application.

 

Each community showed, through its application and in conversations with various stakeholders in the community, how they were poised to implement the Main Street Approach ™ in their respective downtowns. MMSC is excited to bring technical services to each community and watch the growth of their downtowns. 

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Main Street America has updated the criteria for accreditation of local Main Street programs. Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has been working with its local programs to ensure they are ready for the official launch of the new accreditation standards in 2024. The national criteria changed from ten standards to only six standards with a consolidation of some criteria and an emphasis on people, collaboration, and impact measurement built into the new criteria. MMSC started introducing the changes two years ago with a self-assessment in 2021 and 2022. An on-site visit took place in August that tested the application of the new criteria which MMSC introduced as a pilot program to test the new criteria in person with Main Street America staff visiting ten Missouri Main Street programs.


Seven Accredited and three Associate tier Missouri Main Street programs were visited during the weeks of August 15 - 22, 2022. While most of the visits were educational and didn’t alter the designation of accreditation, Downtown Joplin Alliance asked to be evaluated for accreditation.


Cape Girardeau, Chillicothe, Excelsior Springs, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Warrensburg, and Washington are currently accredited with Clinton, Independence, and Joplin at the Associate tier, a few steps away from accreditation. 


Each visit to these communities included Norma Rameriz de Miess, Vice-President of Revitalization Services, and Keith Winge, MMSC’s State Community Development Director. The team spent about seven hours with each Main Street program’s leadership, staff, volunteers, partners, and city officials to learn more about the program’s successes and areas for growth or opportunities for advancement. These observations were shared in a presentation to each program’s board of directors and partners to assist in planning and action steps for implementation at the end of the visit. Overall, Norma was impressed with implementation of the new standards reflecting the partnerships and collaboration to make each community’s downtown a vibrant place. Areas that were recommended the most for further development in many of the local programs were related to volunteer engagement, packaging the measured impact of Main Street locally, and partner support efforts.

 

 


Downtown Joplin Alliance was reviewed this year with an eye on accreditation. The local Main Street program has been working to impact downtown Joplin since 1989 with some ups and down through the years. The organization reached out to MMSC in 2017 to help them focus their efforts using the Main Street principles. The board was strengthened and the committees re-energized. Now, vacancy is low, partnerships are strong, and a contract for services secured with the city. Downtown Joplin Alliance’s hard work has paid off as Main Street America and Missouri Main Street bestowed accreditation on the eighth Main Street program is Missouri.


Main Street America will be back in 2024 to assess the Accredited and Associate communities once again in Missouri Main Street tier system, when the new standards will be fully implemented nationwide. This timeline allows local Main Street program and their community to further use the standards in improving their downtown revitalization efforts. MMSC will work with its local programs to provide technical and organizational services that help them make a bigger impact for the various stakeholders within the downtown and community as a whole.

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The last in-person conference Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) hosted was in St. Louis (2019) before the pandemic spread across the country. With 2020 postponed and 2021 hosted virtually, MMSC staff set their eyes on making 2022 the return of Missouri’s’ Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference. The conference theme “Places Reimagined” highlighted the work that districts had completed in reimagining their public spaces to provide their community what they needed during the pandemic. Especially with grants from MMSC and our partner AARP, the Community Resiliency Grant allowed five districts to active spaces in their community to meet the changes in the business climate and better their downtowns while celebrating and encouraging inclusivity. ‘Placed Reimagined’ also highlighted the changes in how spaces have been and will continue to be used as a result of the pandemic. These changes have encouraged Main Streets to examine how spaces are set up to serve their communities. ‘Places Reimagined’ just worked to bring all of these ideas together. MMSC was determined to create the place for our communities to be able to come together and learn after three years of being away from an in-person conference experience. And boy did we come back with a bang!

 

From the start of conference there were many things to partake in. On August 3rd, while many local program directors and their support staff arrived to take part in their monthly directors meeting and a semiannual support staff meeting, attendees who arrived early and could take part in two different concurrent educational tours the “Educational Walking Tour of Kansas City Crossroads” or the “Educational Guided Scavenger Hunt Through Downtown Kansas City.” These tours provided a way to explore the unique sites, architecture, and commercial districts of Downtown Kansas City and the Crossroads Arts District. The Educational Walking Tour of Kansas City Crossroads was popular as it toured the diverse, mixed-use community full of galleries, restaurants, locally-focused retail, technology, and design firms. Participants got to see firsthand several historic tax credit adaptive reuse projects and speak with representatives on how they accomplished their project as well as visiting Union Station and the Freight House Pedestrian Bridge.

 



MMSC board member Bill Emmons had this to say about the new perspective he gained of Kansas City Crossroads, “I’ve been to Kansas City many times, but I never knew there was so much vitality in the Crossroads district. It’s exciting to see old spaces become new and inviting places for entertainment, artistic expression, offices, and housing. There’s even a stylish new place to stay or hold meetings, the Crossroads Hotel. This luxury hotel is a re-imagined version of the Pabst Brewing Depot, which was built in 1911.”

 

 


Randy Greeves, one of the conference volunteers, accompanied attendees on the tour through the Kansas City Crossroads District and said this, “Having never been to Kansas City before I was fortunate to go on the Crossroads tour. I got to see many of the beautiful examples of architecture in downtown KC as well as getting to speak to some of the people responsible to revitalizing important areas, and creating a safe and beautiful place to residents to enjoy. This conference was a wonderful opportunity and experience for me, and I look forward to volunteering again!”

 



Community and commercial district tours are a great way to see what a different district is doing and take that back to discuss with your board, volunteers, and community. Almost any idea can be scaled to fit a community’s size, resources, and cultural identity. Mitchell West the Board Vice-President of Main Street Albany stated, “Regardless of the size of a community or the resources available, the success of a community is always about the people.” Main Street is all about the people, because places aren’t places unless there are people.

 

 


Once conference officially started Thursday with the Welcome & Opening Assembly with Keynote Address you could feel the buzz in the air as Jason Roberts kicked us off with “Creating People-Centered Places.” Attendees bustled from room to room listening to sessions and also stopped at exhibitors in the expo hall, grabbed some refreshments during our beverage break, and networked with other communities and MMSC board members at our booth and Main Street Clinic. Cynthia Coffman, the director of Downtown Lebanon commented:

 “The Main Street Clinic was one of most the valuable aspects of conference. A board member and I utilized the expertise of the Main Street Clinic doctors to brainstorm possibilities for reimagining a historic preservation project that is a key property for our downtown business district. We’re now moving forward, using a list of resources and individual contacts provided by the Main Street Clinic doctors.”

 

 


We heard so many good things from attendees that approached us about the sessions they attended. Mackenzie Manring of Main Street Albany had this to say about the sessions and speakers, “Every speaker was knowledgeable and experienced in his or her field, and I was able to take away something of value from each breakout session I attended.” There were clearly a few favorites that attendees couldn’t get enough of which included: Jason Roberts’ Opening Keynote Address “Creating People- Centered Places”, Jackie Wolven’s session “Building True Community With Design Thinking”, Shelia Scarborough’s session “Get More Heritage/Culture Visitors into Small Towns: Social Media Content Ideas from the 8 Rural Culture Elements”, and Lily Clajus’ session “StoryMapping Main Street: Using Digital Place-Based Narratives in the Main Street Approach™” just to name a few.

 

 


The ShowMe Bash and Pitch Party was another great evening. Attendees brought the excitement of the confernce to Ophelia’s Restaurant and Inn in Downtown Independence to see great pitches for the Creative Space Activation Grant. Five communities were looking to win the $10,000 Creative Space Activation grant and presented their projects to the judges made up of MMSC board members. Delmar Main Street walked away as the winner with $10,000 for their Transit Wall Transformation Project. Their application and following pitch at the event highlighted the great need for the project in their district and the strong support they have. It was breathtaking.

 



The evening didn’t end there as after the Pitch Party the ShowMe Bash was just starting. Jeff Rodgers from Independence Square Association worked with his local groups to have first person interpreters, community members who performed and interacted with attendees as people from the past in historic costume dispersed throughout the district along with other activities including loft tours. Store owners also to stayed open late to have a great time for attendees to experience Independence, MO.

 

 


From across the Square you could see attendees experiencing what Independence has implemented in their district like self-watering planters that Mr. Rodgers and Historic River District Ozark, MO chatted about and St. Louis Main Streets programs enjoying their evening together.

 



The last big success was the finale of Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference being the Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony & Dinner. This is always a special evening at our conference where MMSC presents awards to communities, businesses, and individuals to commemorate and honor their commitment to their district as well as the achievements of Main Street revitalization. This year was extra special with some of the award recipients.

 

 


Check out the Press Release section on our website to see all the awards that were handed out to communities. [www.momainstreet.org/press-releases/] One award was a surprise to everyone in attendance. Dr. Steven Hoffman, the MMSC Board’s Immediate Past President, received the Pioneer Award.


This award was awarded to Dr. Steven Hoffman for his service, dedication, passion, and support for Missouri Main Street Connection throughout its history as well as the entire state of Missouri. Steven’s unwavering passion and dedication has impacted many individuals and organizations not only in Missouri but throughout the country over the years.

 



As communities departed the conference, they took with them the knowledge and connections they gained to their communities to share with others. Main Street Albany Promotion Committee Chair, Tonya McCampbell had this to say about the conference:

“The annual conference was so inspiring and informational. It was definitely worth our board member and committee member's time. All four of us could not stop talking on our two hour rides to and from the conference about how many ideas from other communities would work so well with our community.  I know that Albany will be a better place after we implement a few things we learned at the conference... just wait and see!”


Katelyn Galloway, Promotion Committee Chair of Main Street Brookfield had this to say as well:

“I was able to take away useful information from each session that was presented. My favorite part about this conference was the ability to network and obtain ideas from other attendees with the same passions as myself. I am excited to implement some of the ideas in my own community that I acquired from the sessions and my peers. This was my first year attending, and it definitely will not be the last!”


As we take all the feedback provided by the session surveys and overall conference survey, we continue to make conference better each year for each attendee. MMSC is excited to see you in Saint Louis in 2023!

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