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Sending people to a conference can be a big investment when you consider the hotel, travel, and conference registration costs, especially when sending multiple people. While the cost of this investment may look big upfront, there is a huge return on investment for communities of any size through the energization of volunteers and staff and the generation of new ideas and connections to make local Main Street efforts more fruitful. For Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference hosted in St. Louis in 2023, communities have many potential opportunities available to them to help reduce the price of attending conference.

Missouri Main Street Connection Scholarships

Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) recognizes that for some programs the investment of coming to the conference can be a barrier, that is why we work with partners to offer scholarships to select communities where our missions overlap. If your community has an agreement with MMSC, keep an eye out for communications coming from our staff about scholarships that we have available for you. Another opportunity to communities that have reached the Accredited and Associate levels in MMSC’s tier system is a free scholarship to support the work they are doing and to reward their implementation of the Main Street Approach™. This is a big perk for rallying support in programs just starting for their benefits from MMSC that come in through execution of the Main Street Approach™.


Local Partners

Looking inside your community is another place you can find funding to cover conference registration costs, sometimes in surprising places. Organizations and companies that have supported Main Streets in the past include local service clubs like: Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and Kiwanis Clubs; Local Banks; utility companies; and the Chamber of Commerce. Reaching out to make that initial connection is sometimes all it takes, though it is the simplest but often most intimidating step. We hope the words of MMSC’s State Director Gayla Roten, who was the local director of the Branson Main Street program before becoming the State Director of MMSC, always says, “We don’t have because we don’t ask” can inspire you. Take these words of encouragement and start a conversation by setting aside the fear of potential rejections.

Another MMSC staff member who has experience in securing funding during their time as a local director is Keith Winge, currently MMSC’S State Community Development Director. When Keith was on staff as the Executive Director of Downtown Excelsior Partnership (DEP) roughly a decade ago, he partnered with the Rotary Club of Excelsior Springs to help send himself to the state conference. Keith Winge recalled,

“MMSC shared a list of places where Main Street programs could potentially find money and the Rotary was on the list which would have never crossed my mind in the first place. I reached out to a Rotarian with information about how attending the Conference would help me develop as a Main Street professional and grow DEP’s positive impact on our community and they were in.”


There are many options open to your local Main Street program to discover funding that can assist in helping community members attend conference, you just have to know where to look and not be afraid to ask. Missouri Main Street Connection has created a sample letter and flyer that you can use to start these conversations with potential partners in your community.

Download the Sample Letter Here.

Download the Scholarship Flyer Here.

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Starting a new program via a pilot creates many opportunities to learn, especially in the Main Street world. That is because the Main Street Approach™ is a model with distinct principles and methodology that forms the base of any Main Street program which then can be adaptively implemented to fit the needs of a community of any size. Missouri Main Street Connection has learned lessons, made connections, and had hard work pay off since starting the urban pilot program St. Louis Main Streets in 2019. There are now three Main Street districts that are participating in the St. Louis Main Streets program who are all working to improve their little part of the larger city by implementing the time-tested principles of Main Street.

Historic commercial districts of all sizes are different in their density, housing options, services, and public spaces, but they have similarities as they each can be the center of commerce or activities for the area population or community. Each district can bring people together, which is why Main Street as a tool fits perfectly in both rural and urban districts, as it is a community-led revitalization effort focused on the quality-of-life issues related to social, economic, physical, and civic themes – the Main Street Approach™. Some of the ways that Main Street districts of all sizes can revitalize or improve their district are:

  • Design: Enhancing the physical and visual assets of the district, such as improving the streetscape, signage, lighting, landscaping, and historic buildings.

Pictured Above: Mini-Façade Grant awarded to Queen’s Nail & Spa Salon by Dutchtown Main Street to promote exterior improvement of businesses that attract economic activity and show off great businesses.


  • Promotion: Creating a positive image of the district and attracting customers, investors, and visitors through events, marketing, branding, and social media.


Pictured Above: Performers at Downtown Maryville’s Art, Rhythm, and Brews event.

  • Economic Vitality: Strengthening the district’s economy by supporting existing businesses, encouraging new businesses, diversifying the mix of goods and services, and facilitating property development.


Pictured Above: Deli Divine opened in Delmar Main Street just off the corner of Delmar Boulevard and Belt Avenue in the Delmar DivINe building.


  • Organization: Building a strong foundation for the revitalization effort by cultivating partnerships, community involvement, leadership development, fundraising, and advocacy.


Pictured Above: Community members participating in break out groups during the Town Hall hosted in West Plains where they will decide on wildly important goals to be incorporated in the foundation of the Main Street program they are forming through the Community Empowerment Grant program.


In St. Louis, through community feedback and stakeholder input, Missouri Main Street Connection helped each district identify their unique competitive advantage, leverage the power of residents and local stakeholders, and identify a series of short and long-term projects.


Each of the St. Louis Main Streets districts faced various challenges and accessed different opportunities depending on their specific context and characteristics. Some of the challenges and opportunities were:



  • Competing with online shopping, big box stores, and suburban malls that offer convenience, variety, and lower prices.
  • Dealing with issues such as crime, safety, cleanliness, parking, traffic, and homelessness that may deter customers and investors.
  • Preserving the historic and cultural identity of the district while accommodating new development and growth.
  • Engaging and representing the diverse and often marginalized stakeholders of the district, such as residents, business owners, property owners, workers, and visitors.
  • Securing adequate funding, resources, and support from public and private sectors for the revitalization efforts.



  • Capitalizing on the unique assets and competitive advantages of the district, such as its location, architecture, history, culture, events, and niche markets.
  • Attracting and retaining customers, investors, and visitors who value the authentic, local, and human-scale experience of the district.
  • Leveraging the power of residents and local stakeholders who are passionate, creative, and committed to the district’s success.
  • Collaborating and partnering with other urban Main Street districts or organizations to share best practices, resources, and advocacy.
  • Innovating and adapting to the changing needs and preferences of the market and the community.


One of the early lessons was in recognizing partners and opportunities with the program. St. Louis Development Corporation, the Office of the Mayor, and Greater St. Louis Inc., each identified Main Street as a priority. These entities, with their priorities, have a unique role in helping each Main Street district accomplish their specific goals and priorities for the short and long-term as partners. The implementation work is just beginning in St. Louis and Missouri Main Street Connection is working with each district to help them realize their dreams and goals.

Pictured above: Group photo of in Laclede’ Landing.

While the pilot program is coming to an end in 2023, Missouri Main Street Connection’s work is not finished in St. Louis. Other urban commercial and neighborhood districts throughout St. Louis and the state have expressed interest in organizing a Main Street program, implementing the Main Street principles, and making change in their little part of a larger city. If you are interested in starting an urban Main Street program, check out the Urban Forum at Missouri Main Street’s Downtown Revitalization Conference in St. Louis. It will feature a Main Street America representative sharing urban success stories from across the country as well as each St. Louis District sharing their journey, accomplishments to date, and goals for the future. The Urban Forum will be on Wednesday, July 26th from 10am to 11:30am and is free to attend. If you are interested in attending the Urban Forum and learning more about urban district revitalization, please email us at info@momainstreet.org

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The Main Street Approach™ is a singular mission achieved through four points, six criteria, and countless focuses like a rope made up of many strands. Two criteria that show how celebrating a community’s heritage and traditions through displaying it in public spaces is baked into Main Street’s methodology as found in the new standards of Main Street America’s evaluation framework are “Preservation-based Economic Development & Broad-based Community Commitment to Revitalization” (Main Street America, Accessed May 18, 2023). Community, revitalization, and preservation are the three words found in these two criteria that distinguish Main Street from other economic development or revitalization efforts yet does not make local Main Street programs who utilize the Main Street Approach™ too unique to partner with other organizations and companies.


Downtown Monroe City Revitalization (DTMC), which is the local Main Street program for Monroe City, MO, is a perfect example of how to partner with another organization where there is mission overlap. They have partnered with their region’s association of REALTORS®, which is the Mark Twain Association of RELATORS® (MTAR). Debbie Kendrick, who is on the board of Downtown Monroe City as well as a REALTOR®, shared about the collaboration between the two groups which funded their “Rail & Ponies” mural by Ray Harvey of RayHarveyArt, “Both organizations are looking to have a lasting impact in communities by turning spaces into places. We used the overlap in our missions, including ‘community is the focus’ and ‘growth minded’, to our advantage and so should you” (NAR, Accessed May 18, 2023). The mural project was completed and formally dedicated on December 3, 2022 during DTMC’s Christmas Street Stroll event.



MTAR is also collaborating with Canton, MO for engineering drawings for a veteran’s memorial for their community. While MTAR serves their region in Missouri, Debbie Kendrick told us that every region in Missouri has a board of REALTORS® and encourages other local Main Street programs to get connected to their region’s association of REALTORS® for funding opportunities such as Smart Growth, placemaking and/or alley activation grants. She recommends the following steps if you are not currently connected with them:

  1. Reach out to and establish a relationship with a REALTOR® champion, this is a REALTOR® who is involved in community development and growth.
  2. Ask the REALTOR® champion to contact a local board of REALTORS® representative.
  3. Submit to your local board of REALTORS® the project you wish for them to apply to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The last bit of advice from Debbie is to make sure you review the criteria of the grant you are applying for to maximize your chances. If you would like to learn more about how to partner with REALTORS® come to St. Louis July 26 – 28 to hear Debbie Kendrick and Amanda Nemeth speak. You can register online at www.momainstreetconferece.com.

This article was prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) using, in part, the generous donations of Heritage Circle donors to support and provide an example of a community’s successful partnership focused on celebrating by displaying their heritage. If you would like to support MMSC so they can continue to provide resources, trainings, and services to Missouri’s communities to continue to preserve memories, celebrate local history, promote community values, create new memories, and embrace traditions, donate today at www.momainstreet.org/Heritage-Circle/

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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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A core component to a strong local Main Street organization, that is recognized by Missouri Main Street Connection and Main Street America, is having a diversified board of directors. This comes from a mix of different skills and experiences, personal characteristics, the 4 W’s (which are wealth, wisdom, worker, and worrier), community affiliations, and more. Each Main Street board of directors is a unique mix of these factors that comes from and reflects the community that they serve.


This month we are highlighting Eric Osen who was nominated by Downtown Joplin Alliance for “I Spy…Great Work” in appreciation for his work. This nomination enters Eric into the running for Volunteer of the Year at the 2022 Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in August. The nomination was submitted by Lori Haun, Executive Director of Downtown Joplin Alliance:

“Eric is a Missouri Master Gardener who had dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours towards making the Community Gardens at the Empire Market come alive. He helps tend the garden beds and works to improve the overall quality of our farmers market facility. He has led several projects involving the community and our local Youth Volunteer Corps including building a keyhole garden, beautification of our property, teaching topics ranging from winterizing garden beds to the lifecycles of ladybugs to crafting zombie scarecrows. Eric shows up for us, all of the time. Whether it is helping to launch an adult gardening education series, fixing random appliances, or scraping ice from the walkways, we know we can count on Eric to help make our market, and thus our downtown, a better place to be.”

Eric Osen is an excellent example of an outstanding community member who uses his unique skills, experiences, and personal characteristics to contribute to Main Street and his community. His expertise, leadership, and affiliation with the Missouri Master Gardeners makes him a huge asset to Downtown Joplin Alliance.

Eric is not the only one volunteering with Downtown Joplin Alliance. They reported 1,425 hours of volunteer time in 2021 equating to $38.774.25, which is a huge community investment in downtown! The Independent Sector values volunteer time in Missouri at $27.21 an hour (as of April 2022).

Missouri Main Street Connection recognizes the time and sacrifices it takes to volunteer at a nonprofit. Along with our local Main Street programs, we thank everyone who has volunteered with Main Street. Nominations for this year’s “I Spy…Great Work” have concluded, but if you see individuals in your community that are completing great work by volunteering for Main Street, contact your local Main Street program and recommend they be highlighted in the future.


If you want to find resources on how to recruit, train, and recognize your volunteers, look through our resource library which is open to MMSC investors. Not an investor? Email Staci at staci@momainstreet.org to find out how.

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The Main Street Now national conference and Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference are two yearly opportunities for downtown communities to get inspired and connect with other communities. Conference attendance is highly encouraged for local Main Street organizations that have an agreement with Missouri Main Street Connection. Attendance counts towards the required yearly training attendance and is an opportunity to collaborate with other programs to discover new ideas. Attending a conference is a fantastic way to learn about the time-tested downtown revitalization tactics and many other topics. Downtown Washington Inc. is a local program that has implemented a policy with their board member contracts requiring attendance to at least one training a year. This is a great way to ensure that your board continues to learn about the developing Main Street trends and topics.

Housing development has been a feature at both national and state conferences. This topic captivated and inspired a Downtown Washington, Inc. board member to bring new ideas and plans back to his community. Andy Unerstall of Unerstall Construction shared this about his experience in traveling to Chicago for Main Street Now National Conference in 2009:

               “When I went to Chicago I had a development idea that I was considering starting but did not have a clear idea of how it should be implemented. As I toured the housing project that was featured as part of the Main Street Now Conference, I gathered the information and inspiration needed to complete the plans for the housing development that would enhance downtown Washington and bring more residents downtown.”


Andy’s housing development includes more than 50 units from townhomes ranging from 2,200 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft. to flats as well as commercial spaces. These properties are located along the downtown riverfront and in downtown providing something for every lifestyle.

With new housing comes new residents, which boasts great economic benefit for downtown by filling restaurants and attracting new businesses to fill vacancies. Alongside the economic boom, there is also the cultural aspect of the urban life where you feel part of the community, making connections with new people is easy as you see them walking downtown daily. Since the development started, over 60 new residents have been welcomed into the downtown Washington area. One of the first residents of this development was Bryan Bogue. Bryan commented on why he chose to move downtown:

               “I went on a day trip during one of the Main Street Now Conferences. I was enticed by urban style living because it was healthier due to the walkability and great living situation. Once Andy started his project I let him know I wanted live in one of his properties. I was already involved in a lot of things going on downtown, like Downtown Washington Inc., so it made sense to move downtown to be closer to everything.”

Bryan’s story mirrors many others across the country who, after the pandemic, are looking at ways to have more connected lives with each other and the places where they live. Moving downtown offers a walkable lifestyle, allowing people to commute with their feet rather than by car. Following Bryan’s move downtown he opened a wine bar saying, “I wanted to be a part of the success.” With the increased foot traffic from having more people living downtown, a rich environment was created that made the development of new storefronts and filling existing properties feasible. Main Street is economic development connecting people with the resources, tools, and ideas to increase the tax base of a district and impacting entrepreneurs, residents, and visitors. Bryan’s wine bar opened as Oak & Front Wine Bar and Tasting Room. Bryan commented that “half of the members of the wine bar live downtown and often walk down to see us.” What an amazing life to be able to live, work, and play downtown.


Downtowns are always changing by adapting over time to provide the community needs while retaining the memories and history within the walls of the buildings. The addition of Andy’s development indicates a new era for Downtown Washington. Tyler King, Executive Director of Downtown Washington Inc., stated, “With the completion of Andy’s development it completed the downtown and improved our ‘place’. He did a great job at matching the design of his development with the historic red brick of our downtown.”

Missouri Main Street Connection invites you to come to Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in August to experience the collaboration, the connections, and the inspiration that many like Andy, Bryan, and Tyler have experienced for themselves. You might be inspired to start a development project of overcoming a long-standing preservation challenge from what you learn in the educational sessions and from other attendees. 

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This year’s Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference is taking place in Kansas City, Missouri! At conference you will find new ideas for making places meaningful and working with your community to become a place that everyone can call home as well as attend amazing events to both inspire you and recognize communities across Missouri for the revitalization they have accomplished.


ShowMe Bash and Pitch Party! –Historic Downtown Independence

Thursday, August 4, 2022—5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Once again, MMSC will host the ShowMe Bash at state conference. It will be held Thursday, August 4, 2022 in historic downtown Independence. There will be food and drinks and everyone is invited to the Pitch Party that begins at 6:00 pm.


The Pitch Party is the culmination of the MMSC Creative Space Activation Grant where one community will be awarded $10,000! The winner will be chosen from six finalists who will “pitch” to the audience why their project should be awarded first place and receive $10,000! There will be audience interaction to help the judges make their decision. Following the Pitch Party, shops and restaurants will be open until 8:30 pm for you to get acquainted with a variety of businesses and pop-up shops on the Independence Square. Ticket-holders will receive $5 Square Bucks to spend at local businesses, good August 4 only!


Join us for a fun-filled evening with friends old and new! Tickets are $45 and include dinner, one drink and transportation from the Kansas City Marriot Downtown. Buses to and from the event will begin loading at 4:45 pm and leave at 5:00 pm sharp. Last bus leaves Independence to return to the hotel by 9:00 pm. Purchase your tickets online during registration.



Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony & Dinner – Count Basie Ballroom

Friday, August 5, 2022 –6:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Everyone loves a party, right? Evening of Excellence is one of the best and you are invited!

We will gather in the Basie Foyer at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown with a cash bar at 6:00 pm. Doors to the Count Basie Ballroom will open at 6:30 pm for everyone to be seated. The Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony and Dinner will follow with an awards presentation for Missouri communities’ special projects, and events. This evening is a celebration and recognition of the people, projects, and partnerships that represent the use of the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize traditional downtowns and neighborhood business districts. Join in the festivities of “Places Reimagined,” and the people, projects, and partnerships that best represent the great accomplishments communities have made throughout the state in downtown revitalization. Tickets will be available online ($80 per person) when you register until sold out or July 25.



We hope to see you there!


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Virtual Conference | July 28 - 30, 2021

Missouri's Premier Revitalization Conference will feature three days of virtual activities including 14 breakout sessions and two keynote addresses as well as special lunch and happy hour sessions.

Join us at Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference to Celebrate New Beginnings! During the past year of uncertainty and unrest, more than ever we understand the significance of celebrating the places we love. While we are mindful of the hardships so many have endured, we have learned to adapt and grow through this pandemic.

Join us as we all Celebrate New Beginnings! We more fully understand the necessity of community preservation, while celebrating the very places we live, work, and play, as we unite the people in our communities and districts. 

Register at https://www.getpluggedindowntown.com/ 

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Missouri Main Street Downtown Revitalization Awards – 2020

Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) presented downtown revitalization awards on July 30, 2020, recognizing revitalization excellence during the annual Evening of Excellence Virtual Ceremony on Facebook Live.

MMSC is a statewide non-profit organization designed to help Missouri communities preserve their historic commercial districts through economic revitalization. MMSC currently provides services and trainings to over 160 communities across the state. MMSC has empowered downtown revitalization in Missouri communities since 2006, resulting in $964 million of private and public investments, the creation of 829 net new businesses, and the development of 4,097 net new jobs in Main Street communities.

The virtual ceremony Thursday night honored communities, individuals, businesses, and organizations from across the state that have completed exemplary revitalization work. Competitive nominations were submitted for projects, activities, and individuals in 15 different categories that covered aspects of design, economic vitality, organization, promotion, and other efforts in downtown revitalization. We are proud to announce the following winners. 

The Outstanding Community Education Campaign award presented to Blue Springs for The Story of Blue Springs Missouri.

The Daughters of the American Revolution Blue Springs Chapter, with the cooperation of several civic groups including Blue Springs Downtown Alive!, researched and wrote a book, The Story of Blue Springs Missouri over a two-year period and published it in 2019. It is a children’s story book about area history written in a poetic format with illustrations. 

The Story of Blue Springs Missouri starts with early settlement period and concludes with the present day. One distinguishing aspect of this project that sets it apart from other histories is that many members of the committee and community provided the stories. The Story of Blue Springs Missouri references downtown Blue Springs many times throughout the book. Like many American downtowns, it is located near the railroad and water source where commerce and history began and expanded throughout the area’s history. Copies have been distributed to all current fourth grade students and are available at public libraries and for purchase. 

This project exemplifies what all of the organizations included believe Blue Springs stands for: pride in their community, including multiple viewpoints, and working together to achieve common goals. These are important characteristics of all Main Street work. 

For more information on this award contact Blue Springs Down Alive! Executive Director Pam Buck at 816-645-0287 or downtownbluesprings@gmail.com.


Washington’s Community & Economic Development Director, Sal Maniaci honored as Outstanding Public Official.

Sal Maniaci exemplifies the connection between the Main Street movement and local government. As a downtown Washington home-owner and the Community and Economic Development Director of the City Washington, Sal is on the front lines when it comes to the City of Washington and the development of the downtown area. 

During his years of service in Washington, Sal has helped create a new TIF district to create 30 new downtown housing units, worked on a grant to receive the Busch Creek Greenway funding, is currently working to develop a new industrial park, and has facilitated incentive packages with industries to create jobs. Sal’s current responsibilities include working with the Planning and Zoning Board, Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Washington Historic Preservation Commission. 

Sal has served as a board member for Downtown Washington, Inc., acting as the liaison between Downtown Washington, Inc. and the City of Washington, and also sits on the design and economic vitality committees. He has been a major champion of the Main Street approach, historic preservation, and small businesses.

For more information on this award contact Downtown Washington Inc’s Executive Director Tyler King at 636-239-1743 or tyler@downtownwashmo.org. 


University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg is presented with the Premier Partner award.

In 2019, University of Central Missouri Alumni Foundation staff reached out to Warrensburg Main Street to strategize ways to strengthen their long standing partnership. From that meeting a new and invigorated relationship between Warrensburg Main Street and the University of Central Missouri (UCM) was born. By strengthening their partnership, Warrensburg Main Street has been able to receive funding, volunteers, events and the ability to highlight their downtown businesses and business owners.

Warrensburg Main Street has provided two downtown business owners as guest speakers at their UCM Big Idea Speaker Series. The partnership also led to a group of Event Management students developing a photo contest to be held at the first Art Walk in 2020.

The University of Central Missouri created an Integrated Business Experience (IBE) project. Students would be placed into a team and create a business selling a product of their choice. They then paired with a non-profit organization and profits were then donated to that non-profit. They began a business, EZ Straws, selling reusable straws around campus and partnered with a downtown coffee shop to sell product in store. The students presented Warrensburg Main Street with a check over $4,000 from their small business efforts. 

Warrensburg Main Street plans to add a UCM student to their board and hired a student intern for the Farmers Market this summer. Future projects include an advertising class working on comprehensive marketing products for the Farmers Market, a website building class to revise the Burg Fest festival website, and a history class to archive and compile the organization’s history. Warrensburg Main Street is excited to continue to strengthen the partnership with the University of Central Missouri in the many years to come.

For more information on this award contact Warrensburg Main Street Executive Director Jill Purvis at 660-429-3988 or director@warrensburgmainstreet.org. 


Nick Parker of Lee’s Summit awarded the Volunteer of the Year award.

Nick Parker is a valuable and trusted volunteer for Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. Nick joined the Downtown Days Committee in 2012. Willing to help plan another DLSMS event, Nick joined the Emerald Isle Parade Committee and has served as the committee chair for 2019 and 2020. His talents for steady communication in a crisis shined this year. Nick was incredibly helpful as the decision was made to cancel the parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He provided calm reassurance and showed the utmost care for public safety as the public was notified on the parade cancellation. Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street could not have provided such swift and consistent communication without his support. 

In 2018, Nick joined the DLSMS board. Nick is also a member of the Lee’s Summit Arts Council board. Nick became the Economic Enhancement Committee Chair in 2019. Additionally, Nick has led the Block Captains Initiative and recruited additional board members and volunteers to assist with the initiative. He also took a leadership role in planning the Haunted and Historic Spaces tour. This tour has raised around $6,000 for the organization in the past, but this year changes will allow the organization to raise an additional $10,000.

“Link 2 Lee’s Summit” is Nick’s business, a local news source. He puts out a weekly podcast showcasing what’s happening in the city. In 2018, Nick and his wife Stephanie moved their family to downtown. Nick not only champions downtown businesses, his family is often found eating and shopping in downtown. If looking for Nick and Stephanie on Friday night, you can almost always find them in a downtown establishment. His dedication to Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street and support of downtown businesses showcase why he was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year. 

For more information on this award contact Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s Executive Director Donnie Rodgers at 816-246-6598 or donnie@downtownls.org.  


Old Town Cape in Cape Girardeau receives the Creative New Event Award, Accredited/Associate Tier, for the Monster Mash Car Bash.

The Monster Mash Car Bash was developed because of the lack of a Halloween events for families in downtown Cape Girardeau. This event is a unique spin on the traditional trunk-or-treat event. Monster Mash Car Bash took place on a Sunday afternoon, and the trunk-or-treat line up was filled with classic cars from local car enthusiasts, attracting families, couples, and individuals alike. There was something for everyone with the addition of the classic cars. 


The event started with a modest budget, overall event plans, and enlisted help from a few volunteers while relying on their relationship with the local car club to draw in automobile participants. On the day of the Monster Mash Car Bash event, over 1,000 people got in line for the new trunk-or-treat, classic car mash-up event. Lasting only two hours, the trunk-or-treat line never slowed down, the side activities and games that were being overseen by staff also stayed steady for the duration of the event. 


Monster Mash Car Bash was considered by staff, event volunteers, and the Old Town Cape Board of Directors to be an organizational success in its first year. The event accomplished many goals that were set by staff, including attracting new and returning foot traffic to the downtown area, growing the awareness of Old Town Cape, Inc., and offering a family-friendly, Halloween-inspired event in the downtown area.


For more information on this award contact Old Town Cape’s Executive Director Liz Haynes at 573-334-8085 or lizhaynes@oldtowncape.org. 


Clinton Main Street recieves the Creative New Event Award, Affiliate Tier, for the Clinton Quilt Walk.

The 2019 Clinton Quilt Walk had a very successful first year and brought local business owners together, some who had never met before, and approximately 500 attendees to participate in the event and shop downtown. 


Retail businesses as well as the local library, museum, restaurants, and a realty office within the downtown district welcomed the idea of showcasing quilts in their storefronts and offering a free pattern for a quilt block. The goal was to encourage people to register for a quilt to be given away and visit each downtown location to receive a free copy of a quilt block pattern. Other activities for shoppers were a keynote speaker, a special display of quilts on the downtown courthouse lawn, and a "bed turning" on the courthouse parking lot. The local quilt guild organized and narrated two scheduled "bed turnings" of vintage and antique quilts from the area. The Optimist Club provided volunteers, a local bank furnished a utility terrain vehicle to assist walkers when needed, and the Henry County Museum offered space for a speaker. 


Shops reported strong sales for the day and at least one restaurant ran out of food and borrowed from another! The participating businesses met on the following week to evaluate the event. Plans for 2020 were interrupted by COVID-19, but continue to evolve to make the Quilt Walk in October 2020 a bigger, better event. This event was successful in targeting a population that sees Clinton's historic downtown as a destination stop for day trips.


For more information on this award contact Clinton Main Street’s Executive Director Tina Williams at 660-351-3384 or mainstreet@clintonmo.com. 


Vickie A. Jack CPA’s, P.C. aka Buttress & Jack CPA’s, P.C. of Blue Springs receives award for Business of the Year.

Vickie and John Jack had always had an interest in small towns, especially those rich in historical significance. They were pleased when the opportunity came along to purchase the oldest and most dilapidated building in downtown Blue Springs. Originally “Citizens Bank,” this tall, old red-brick building on the corner of 12th & Main was built in 1905. In 1985, over a span of 9 months of intense labor and perseverance, the tall, old red-brick bank building was restored by the Jacks to its original glory. 


Vickie Jack is Charter Board Member of Downtown Alive! She has served in the position of as Treasurer since its inception in 2011. In addition to securing the 501c3 tax status for Downtown Alive, she is known for helping other non-profits in the community to obtain the same status. When Downtown Alive! became stable enough to hire an 5 Executive Director, the Jacks donated office space for Downtown Alive! The Jacks support all Downtown Alive! events and fundraisers, giving generously and inviting friends. 


The Jacks support all Downtown Alive! Events and fundraisers, giving generously and inviting friends. They have always been major sponsors of the annual Piccadilly Gala, supported Corks & Canvas Art and Wine Walk, and John Jack often displays his own artwork at the event. Vickie can be found serving guests at the annual Chili Lunch Fundraiser and has been a group host at the Halloween Pub Crawls. They support and donate to the special projects such as the Remnants Restored Public Art Project and Gateway Monument. There is no one more deserving of this award for all they have given to and done for Blue Springs Downtown Alive!


For more information on this award contact Blue Springs Downtown Alive! Executive Director Pam Buck at 816- 645-0287 or downtownbluesprings@gmail.com.


Outstanding Economic Impact Project awarded to Main Street Trenton for the Main Street Mercantile.

Main Street Trenton purchased a downtown building at 905 Main Street in the summer of 2018 in order to preserve it and recruit a new business to downtown. This two-story building sits in the heart of the downtown district and is full of character, charm, and historic features. Among the top preservation priorities were saving the mezzanine, restoring the original hardwood floors, and saving the original ceiling tiles. In addition, new windows were installed, storage rooms and an ADA bathroom were created, and new electrical, HVAC system, and plumbing were completed.


Main Street Trenton received several interested business prospects; however, none of them wanted to fully commit to purchasing or leasing the building. Main Street Trenton decided to use the space as a home to a variety of local small business owners to help them grow their businesses. A few months later, Main Street Mercantile was launched.


The goal of the Main Street Mercantile was to provide businesses with the tools and resources for success while creating a place for the community to shop and enjoy. The Mercantile opened in early October of 2019, as the home to nine small businesses with a variety of products. Additionally, the mercantile created 3 part-time jobs. 


After six successful months, two of the business owners decided to join together to co-own the Main Street Mercantile. They kept the same business concept and all of the current small businesses, while adding three additional businesses to the store. The Main Street Mercantile continues to have a positive impact on downtown Trenton and the entire community through the revitalization of a historic building, job creation, and economic growth.


For more information on this award contact Main Street Trenton’s Executive Director Megan Taul at 660-654-3716 or director.mstrenton@gmail.com. 


Most Innovative Project for Repurposing Vacant Space awarded to Three on the Square in Albany.

In June 2019, a group of dedicated folks who makeup 3 on the Square, LLC. purchased two vacant buildings on the town square. The purchase was not planned, and in fact happened at an auction nearly by accident. The group purchased the properties in order to keep them as commercial spaces instead of being into residential. 


The hope was to rehabilitate two beautiful old buildings, to restore activity on the square, boost the downtown economy, and help to revitalize the business district. There was much support of this project by family and friends, and the community was grateful for the effort. The new owners wanted the exterior to be a centerpiece for the north side of Albany’s square. The aluminum siding, a 40-foot long aluminum awning, and wood that covered the original bricks were removed. Four completely intact windows on the east building were discovered that had been covered for years. 


The interior changed daily as architectural details were discovered and saved. While dealing with two distinct buildings connected by a 12-foot arched opening, it was easy to envision two types of venues, so the decision was made to make the building on the east a youth gathering space. The other side of the two buildings was to be an attractive adult venue which could be rented for special occasions. 


“On the Square,” as it has come to be known, has rescued two vacant yet beautiful, historic buildings in Albany’s downtown. The owners hope this rescue will encourage entrepreneurs to start their own business.


For more information on this award contact Main Street Albany at 660-562-8667. 


Best Downtown Housing Project awarded to Front Street Development of Washington.

The owners of Front Street Development, Andy and Collene Unerstall, recognized the need to bring people downtown to live, work and play, and came up with a plan to develop and build a large-scale housing unit in a blighted area of downtown Washington.


Front Street Development planned and built a large-scale housing project in the Downtown Washington Historic District over the past few years expanding in 2019 on Front Street. This project includes four buildings consisting of eighteen townhomes, two apartments and five garages. All units were sold before completion and has added twenty-one families who are now living in the Historic District. The façade brick patterns are influenced by the brick facades of historic buildings throughout downtown.  


The project was facilitated by utilizing a TIF program. Front Street Development partnered with the City of Washington to design and layout the redevelopment of two and a half city blocks downtown cleaning up property designated as blighted by the City. It also brought much needed infrastructure improvements to the area including sewer and water line replacement, burial of all overhead utilities, sidewalk replacement, and street overlays. 


Front Street Development’s commitment to the project provided a vital partner to the City of Washington and Downtown Washington, Inc. to redevelop a portion of downtown that had been targeted for redevelopment for decades. 


For more information on this award contact Downtown Washington’s Executive Director Tyler King at 636-239-1743 or tyler@downtownwashmo.org. 


Downtown Joplin Alliance awarded Creative Placemaking Project over $1,000 for Mural: “& At Night, We Glow.”

The Downtown Joplin Alliance’s (DJA) Design committee created a project that united community members to beautify a dark, undesirable walkway with a lighted, colorful mural named, “& At Night, We Glow”. This mural was an undertaking that took more than 500 volunteer hours. The time investment and financial support from the community was a huge help and allowed the project to be completed with minimal expense to the organization. DJA is proud of the impact this project has had on the development of Joplin’s historic Main Street.


To begin the project, the idea needed to be accepted by the property owners and Joplin City staff. DJA worked with Missouri Southern State University art professor, Burt Bucher, to create a design that promoted community pride and drew symbolism from the town’s history. The concrete wall that hosts the design is 12 feet tall and 150 feet wide, with 4 separate designs. This mural will be an enduring symbol of Joplin history and unification, of growth and strength, and of light overcoming darkness.


For more information on this award contact Downtown Joplin Alliance’s Executive Director Lori Haun at 417-501- 9649 or lori@downtownjoplin.com. 


Outstanding Development Project awarded to Warrensburg for 202 North Holden.

In 2018, local real estate agents Brian and Julie Ryberg acquired a property that was a former tanning salon with an upstairs apartment that was in very poor condition. They focused on the building structure, façade, and ground level during the first phase. The building needed roof repairs, brick repair, a HVAC system, and new windows. The first phase was complete with new floors, repaired walls, new updated light fixtures, and paint. The renovations, repairs, and upgrades cost $17,000 and were completed in three months which allowed the tenant to move in quickly.


The new tenant, a popular downtown ice cream shop called The Market, moved from a location with 720 square feet to their new space with 2,000 square feet. They added 3 staff members to their business and saw an increase in business by 30% after 3 months in their new location.


The second story apartment was renovated changing the layout from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom. In addition to the plumbing, electrical, and other renovations, they also removed 6.2 tons of lathe and plaster. The total cost of renovating the second-story apartment was $57,000. Previously the apartment rented for $450 a month and now, furnished, is bringing $1000 per month. Brian and Julie took a tired building in downtown Warrensburg and put new life and energy into the space. 


For more information on this award contact Warrensburg Main Street’s Executive Director Jill Purvis at 816-429- 3988 or director@warrensburgmainstreet.org. 


Mary Jane bourbon + smokehouse of Cape Girardeau awarded Best Façade Rehabilitation under $10,000.

The Erlbacher Buildings in downtown Cape Girardeau were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 for their architectural significance. Constructed in 1957-58, the nearly twin buildings, are an example of the Streamline Modern style of architecture, and because of preservation efforts by past and present owners, have been well preserved, today much as they did upon their completion.


In 2019, Carisa Stark, owner, began rehabilitation for the restaurant which included minimal impact to the building itself, while at the same time creating maximum impact to the aesthetic of the downtown community. All the original features of the building were maintained, only repaired and reinforced. 


Carisa Stark shared that having a business in a downtown district is important to her. She went on to explain, “there is a support system there, a family like no other.” There was no question that is where she wants to be.

For more information on this award contact Old Town Cape’s Executive Director Liz Haynes at 573-334-8085 or lizhaynes@oldtowncape.org. 


Best Façade Rehabilitation over $10,000 awarded to 22 SW Third Street of Lee’s Summit.

The building at 22 SW Third Street was one of the first buildings constructed after a devastating fire the morning of April 16, 1885 that witnessed virtually a complete loss of the entire Lee’s Summit business district. Originally constructed as Ocker & Martin Furniture, it served as a restaurant and tavern for most of its history. Since 1961, the building had housed the Do Drop Inn. The building was modernized in the 1970s, adding metal screening to the second floor and bricking up the first floor for a more “modern look.” The building was sold in 2019 to new owners, John and Kim Carlson. 


Carefully removing both the metal exterior and interior brick walls that were built to modernize the building, they found both good and terrifying surprises. With appropriate metal bracing, the side of the building was rebuilt and tuckpointed. The Carlsons returned the corner entry to the building, having a custom mahogany door built by a local craftsman. The building once again looks very much like it did when it was first constructed in 1886.


22 SW Third Street is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Lee’s Summit, but also one of the last to see the 1970s modernizations undone, it is an important gateway into the downtown Lee’s Summit district.


For more information on this award contact Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s Executive Director Donnie Rodgers at 816-246-6598 or donnie@downtownls.org. 


The Brunke Building of Excelsior Springs awarded Best Historic Preservation Project.

In August 2017, Gary & Kim Sanson, local preservationists, purchased the Brunke building in order to repair and restore the building to its original condition. Work lasted a year and a half and the building reopened in 2019. The Brunke family, in business since 1921, had owned the building since 1969. 


The building is over 9,000 square feet and there were several items to address. The roof had to be replaced to protect the original wood floor. There were 60 decorative metal tin 2’x2’ ceiling squares that needed to be replaced and the ceiling was repainted. In the display windows the wood parquet flooring was sun & water damaged and covered up with green astro-turf. It was uncovered, repaired, and refinished. The original façade of the building had a beautiful brick pattern with 24 hand painted and handmade cast stone rosettes. When the façade reveal began, it was an amazing surprise to find most of the original façade intact. Seven of the 24 rosettes were damaged and had to be reproduced. 


The awning was made up of three sections that had to be custom made. A total of over $80,000 was invested in the restoration process. Both the Downtown Chapter 353 District Tax Abatement and a $1,000 Downtown Excelsior Partnership Façade Grant was approved to assist in the project. This building holds many memories cherished by locals, and is one of the reasons this is a favorite place to visit by many who come to Excelsior Springs Historic Downtown.


For more information on this award contact Downtown Excelsior Partnership Executive Director Lyndsey Baxter at 816-719-9912 or exec@visitesprings.com. 

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The Evening of Excellence will be the finale of “Get Plugged In…Downtown” Conference on July 30, 2020. The awards ceremony and dinner will send everyone home from this premier Main Street conference with new inspiration. Some will even carry an Excellence of Achievement award home. This might be your community. The award nominations are an opportunity for YOU to honor the people, projects, and activities that are outstanding achievements in your community.

Nominations will be accepted through May 1, 2020. 


Download The Nomination From

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