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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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This year at Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference’s ShowMe Bash & Pitch Party, Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) will be awarding the Creative Space Activation Grant to one local Main Street organization. As Missouri communities continue to evolve in response to the changing circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, MMSC sees a continued need to activate outdoor spaces through placemaking projects in historic districts as a way to support small businesses, local citizens, and community vibrancy for all ages.

The Missouri Main Street Connection Creative Space Activation Grant has been designed to support one local Main Street organization in activating their historic district’s public spaces to build community connections and create activity that encourages customers to support local small businesses. Creative solutions to promote places and fill them strategically with opportunities for citizens to enjoy their community, enhance civic and community pride, and create a place for visitors to linger and to enjoy local businesses and restaurants at their leisure has a huge impact on your community’s economic vitality as well as sense of place. From small to big, every project matters when it comes to creating a vibrant community for all ages.

Applications are being accepted for this grant opportunity until July 8, 2022. If you are a Missouri Main Street program that has an agreement with MMSC, and are in good standing, you are eligible to apply. Five communities will be selected as finalists to attend the Pitch Party where they will have time to present their project to the live audience and a panel of judges. Each of the five finalists will receive a box of placemaking materials that may include lawn games, paint/chalk, signs, lights, placemaking educational materials, etc., but only one will walk away with the grant of $10,000 to implement their project!

If you are eligible to apply and interested in getting the application email info@momainstreet.org

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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.


Tour of Downtown Kansas City

Wednesday, August 3, 20221:00 pm to 4:00 pm

This walking tour starts in the Kansas City Marriott Downtown lobby with attendees meeting at 12:45 pm with their tickets. You will explore the great places throughout downtown Kansas City experiencing an uptick in growth.  We will take advantage of the streetcar and then walk a short distance to some of the impressive projects we will see. All of the projects will be examples of adaptive re-use projects that have created both commercial and residential space rejuvenating the area. There are a number of Historic Tax Credit projects that we will see—and we may even get a sweet treat on the way! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Tickets available, until sold out, online ($20) until July 25 and onsite at the conference registration office.



Guided Scavenger Hunt with Prizes through Downtown Kansas City

Wednesday, August 3, 20221:00 pm to 4:00 pm;

This adventurous tour starts in Kansas City Marriott Downtown lobby with attendees meeting at 12:45 pm with their tickets. You will explore the unique sites and architecture that make downtown Kansas City one of a kind. Using the streetcar, attendees will explore historic and cultural sites while making a game of the tour to see who can find the most sites or architectural features within the time allowed. The group will stop off at several areas along the streetcar route to allow participants to explore and find clues while learning about Kansas City’s history. Prizes will be awarded in several categories and will be announced soon.

Tickets available, until sold out, online ($20) until July 25 and onsite at the conference registration office.

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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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This year’s conference, taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, is Places Reimagined! Return in-person for Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference as we visit this theme that will use place-based economics and other placemaking strategies to highlight why your community matters.


While the past two years has changed a lot for many communities, it has solidified the need for meaningful places. As many people stayed local and explored their areas instead of traveling far away, communities, of all sizes, discovered that they too can be places people want to visit. Journey with us in learning what makes a place vibrant, healthy, and authentic. Missouri is home to many regions with their own unique art, heritage, and mix of cultures that have untapped potential to reshape communities and transform them into incredible places.


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. Placemaking and livability help create public spaces that respond to the needs of the community. You will learn about initiatives that will generate downtowns that are authentic, dynamic, and flourishing as well as vibrant and healthy.


Opening Reception/Networking Opportunity – Hotel Kansas City

Wednesday, August 3, 2022—5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Missouri Main Street Connection has a special treat for those that arrive on Wednesday—a visit within walking distance from the Kansas City Marriott Downtown to the beautiful, historic Hotel Kansas City, formerly the Kansas City Club! The Kansas City Club, established in 1882, was one of the Midwest’s premier social clubs. The Club built a clubhouse at the corner of 13th and Baltimore Avenue in 1922. After the Kansas City Club moved to a new location in 2002, the building was transitioned into an events space on the first six floors and the rooftop. The building was then sold and began a year and a half of renovations, starting in May 2019, for Hotel Kansas City’s grand opening in October 2020. The 15th floor, which held an outdoor garden, was transitioned into downtown Kansas City’s only indoor/outdoor events-specific venue. We will meet in the Starlight Ballroom and Terrace for a reception with light appetizers during which tours of the building will be given in small groups on a rotating basis. Attendees who want to participate in this immersive experience and network with other downtown professionals can purchase a ticket that includes one drink ticket when registration opens.  We will meet in the front lobby of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown beginning at 5:15 pm to walk in groups to Hotel Kansas City.

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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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MMSC has extended the deadline to submit award nominations for the Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony & Dinner to May 15, 2020. We know that you are in the midst of COVID-19, but Missouri communities still have good news to share!

Winners will be announced at the Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony & Dinner on July 30, 2020. The award nominations are an opportunity for YOU to honor the people, projects, and activities that are outstanding achievements in your community.

Download the nomination from here.

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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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Join us at Missouri's Premier Revitalization Conference to hear Keynote Presentations by Peter Kageyama, Brandon W. Johnson, and Ben Muldrow. 

The Westin St. Louis
July 24 - July 26, 2019

Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and the follow up, Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places. He is the former President of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community change organization and the co-founder of the Creative Cities Summit, an interdisciplinary conference that brings citizens and practitioners together around the big idea of 'the city.'

Peter speaks about emotional engagement with PLACES- cities, towns, communities, neighborhoods, and especially downtowns, which he calls the "psychic centers" of places. Good things happen when more people become emotionally engaged with their places and when more people fall in love with those places. Main Street programs play a unique role in creating this sense of place. 

Peter will inspire the audience to encourage people to go from saying they love a place to actually doing something for that place. He believes Main Streets can compete and even thrive in the Age of Amazon with bottom-up community development and the amazing people who are making change happen.

Peter will be available at Main Street 5 & Dime to sign books immediately following his address. 



Brandon W. Johnson, a.k.a. "Positive Energy Guy" has had the honor of developing tens of thousands of leader through his leadership trainings, workshops, and speeches over the past 20 years. In 2017 and 2018, Brandon was honored and humbled by being named the #1 Global Guru for the Hospitality Industry. 

Brandon has more than 20 years of experience in operations and leadership positions in the hospitality industry, non-profits, training organizations, entrepreneurship, and higher education. He holds a bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism management and a master's degree in management technology with an organization development focus. His clients include such well-known names as McDonald's, Hilton, Famous Dave's, Hyatt, and Odyssey Resorts. 

Brandon's trademark passion, heart, and energy inspires audiences everywhere while also giving them practical tools to take their results in business and life to the next level. Brandon's book, "Hospitality from the Heart," will help you engage your employees, deliver extraordinary service, and create loyal guests.  

Brandon will be available at Main Street 5 & Dime to sign books immediately following his address. 

Join Ben Muldrow as he discusses all the current trends and future changes that could revolutionize our nation's downtowns. Ben has been presenting at Main Street conferences for nearly twenty years. His motivation and quick wit will keep you engaged and his background in branding and marketing will reveal insights and inspiration that will give you practical steps you can put into action right away to shape the future of your town. This fast - paced presentation is sure to get you excited about the changes happening on Main Street.  

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