We love historic downtowns!

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

Public and Private INVESTMENT


Net new businesses


Net New jobs


volunteer hours


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



Missouri Main Street Blog Section

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


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


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

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


EDA Acknowledgment Statement

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

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Communities of every size have buildings they consider ‘white elephants’ that are hard to tackle. For Cape Girardeau, it was the old Marquette and H&H buildings. until a locally-led effort brought Old Town Cape, the City of Cape Girardeau, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and developer such as Codefi and other local developers together. This partnership led to the rehabilitation that won the “Best Large-Scale Project” in 2019. Since the completion of this large-scale project, the tide of economic success has swept across the downtown district and raised the boats of many small businesses as well as given others reason to set their own boats asail on the adventure of starting their own business or renovating their own property.

The accomplishments that the project has achieved in the community are outstanding both on an economic and preservation standpoint. Coordinator of the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University, Dr. Steven Hoffman, made this remark about the project’s historical integrity:

               “Both properties have outstanding architectural features from the early 20th century that were neglected due to the time, money, and work it takes to own a building. Thankfully by using historic tax credits and following the Secretary of Interior’s Standards, the project was able to be publicly and privately funded to restore this amazing building that has an incredible amount of detail that cannot be matched by modern construction.  For instance, the tile and furnishings call back to its previous life while the cornice that had been previously removed was rebuilt.”


Public and private funding is an important aspect of Main Street because when used together they can get projects moving in the right direction by using tools like the historic tax credit and Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The impact that rehabilitating an old building is huge because of the revenue generated from businesses utilizing it for commerce as well as increasing property value—far exceeding the revenue beforehand. Former Cape Girardeau Mayor, Bob Fox, made this remark about the project’s economic impact:

“The Marquette and H&H building rehabilitation was a game changer for Cape Girardeau. It took the Marquette, which was a difficult building to rehabilitate due to it being all concrete, and the H&H and turned them into a space that now welcomes visitors from all over to downtown. The hotel houses many businesses and organizations in amazing offices spaces equipped with conference rooms for collaboration.”


The block that these properties sit on is now alive thanks to the development that used these two fantastic, historic buildings and breathed new life into them with help from the local community. That is one of the many distinctions of Main Street, that it is not just developers making money by putting a building back in service, but that the community has an integral part as a partner to inject new life into and invest in downtown. 


Main Street also has a comprehensive mindset that guided the connector of this development, Old Town Cape, to identify 3 components for this property, which were space, technology, and talent. Executive Director of Old Town Cape Liz Haynes remarked:

“The available building [that is the Marquette building] would house a commercial space to be a hub for the Marquette tech district. After renovating the over 1,450 sq. ft. Marquette building, installing state of the art fiberoptic and Wi-Fi for the downtown Cape Girardeau area, and partnering with Codefi to provide training for tech focused careers, we could start to see the impact right away. Everyone started to look at downtown as a viable location to start their business because of access to high speed Wi-Fi for businesses which came as an amenity provided by this development. Like the saying goes everyone wants to be a part of a winning community.”

Old Town Cape has reported 4+ new business opening downtown especially in the blocks surrounding the development with more still to come. While many times Main Street is about a bunch of small efforts building into big change, Old Town Cape shows us that in some special cases, with just the right property and partners, a big project can be a catalyst for a bunch of smaller projects to build on the success of Main Street. This is a perfect example of how the heart of Main Street, historic preservation, can save and rehab a vacant property that impacts local job markets and supports small businesses. 

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Volunteers are the lifeblood of Main Street. From the board of directors to committees to event volunteers, each community member that volunteers in Main Street is a Rockstar! Not only are they coming together to revitalize their downtown, reinvigorate their community, and cultivate a place to live, work, and play, they are making an economic impact! Volunteers make a significant economic impact in their community through the donation of their time and skill. The Independent Sector values volunteer time in Missouri at $27.21 (as of April 2022).

Downtown Washington has nominated Kenny Pinnell for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. This nomination enters Kenny into the running for Volunteer of the Year at the 2022 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in August. The nomination from Downtown Washington was submitted by Tyler King:

“Kenny, a longstanding volunteer and board member for Downtown Washington, Inc., embodies what a true volunteer is all about. He shows up to EVERYTHING and does a lot of behind the scenes work when no one is watching. One particular reason I am nominating him is when we have events at our downtown Farmer's Market, Kenny is always the one making sure all electrical outlets are updated and working, making sure the ice machine is cleaned and ready to go, setting up and communicating with our outside vendors to make sure they are welcomed and well attended to, having trash bags on hand when no one can find any, and always keeping us on our toes with reminders at the office when things we forget about need to be done. We enjoy his laugh, his stories, and his presence. This isn't a one-time off when we spy great work; Kenny is always doing great work and needs to be recognized for all of his efforts.”


Kenny is not the only one volunteering in Downtown Washington. Downtown Washington reported 9,712 hours of volunteer time in 2021 equating to $264,263.52, a huge community investment in downtown!


Missouri Main Street Connection recognizes the time it takes and sacrifices made to volunteer time at a nonprofit and along side our local Main Street programs thank everyone who has volunteered with Main Street. Though I Spy Great Work is currently closed, if you see individuals in your community that are completing great work, contact your local Main Street program and recommend them to be highlighted by the local Main Street program or Missouri Main Street Connection in the future. 

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

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


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

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Excelsior Springs is a historic town that has chosen to cultivate the arts and entertainment in their community. This focus is why we have chosen to highlight them in celebration of 1 Billion & Rising with the story of how they saved and filled a vacant old church, developed a community asset, and provided the perfect place for a quality community theater to call its home. This project contributed to Missouri reaching $1 Billion in public and private investments.

The building at 114 North Marietta sat empty for a long time after the Marietta Baptist Church closed its doors. As time went by, the building remained vacant and deteriorated, as many old buildings do. The former church, built in 1903, began to face challenges that many long-time vacant buildings do, which made it less appealing for potential tenants resulting in it being classified as blighted. Thankfully, through a partnership in the DREAM initiative between the City of Excelsior Springs and the Downtown Excelsior Partnership, the building saw several major improvements using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to get it ready for the right tenant. The extent of the work that was done included a new roof, paint, electrical, HVAC, and various other small things.



With the building stabilized, it was ready for a buyer to continue the rehabilitation work to their own specification. Downtown Excelsior Partnership put the property on the market. The Slightly Off Broadway Theatre was looking for a new home, viewed the building, and fell in love the character and space it provided. The building became Slightly Off Broadway’s new home after six years of traveling performances following the loss of their original home in 2004. Kristi Shewell, the Board President and Resident Office Manager of Slightly Off Broadway Theatre, remarked “This building is truly perfect for us. The acoustics were good and we continue to optimize the quality of our sound through the carpet we installed and the baffles along the walls and on the ceiling. With the space this building provides, we were able to enclose the balcony for a place for our band to perform when they are not needed on stage.”



The development that went into this building has not only helped with recruiting businesses to grow the downtown district in the early 2000’s, but it also continues to draw people Downtown and contribute to Downtown Excelsior Springs’ nightlife. Even more, through partnering with Downtown Excelsior Partnership for their events, the theater has been able to host street performances on their off weekends and provide other entertainment downtown in seeing a show! Slightly Off Broadway has a variety of offerings for their community to satisfy anyone’s theater needs including small musicals, large musicals, straight plays, comedies, mysteries, Christmas shows, music review shows, and even a kid’s theatre camp and special performance for their parents. The kid’s theatre camp is done in partnership with the Excelsior Springs school district and provides elementary, middle school, and high school students with the opportunity to learn theater skills like projection, behind the scenes tech, and how to audition. This is accomplished through a week-long camp that is 5 hours a day where parents can see the fruit of their child’s participation in a production on the last day.



The arts are a very important aspect of community culture and having a place to come together to laugh, cry, and find joy in stories being brought to life on stage is simply irreplaceable. The theatre continues to represent why the arts are important as they draw attendees from the community and across the region. Lyndsey Baxter, the Executive Director of Downtown Excelsior Partnership, remarked, “Thanks to the theatre, this pretty significant square space building which is extremely difficult for small retail to fill is being utilized to its fullest potential as they continue to plan on utilizing the whole building resulting in this great historic building not remaining vacant.” 

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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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Ben White »

The Historic Preservation committee of Missouri Main Street Connection continues to provide Missouri Main Street organizations, building owners, and business owners with an innovative consultation service, the “Doctor Is In.” This service offers participants the chance to get expert advice from a diverse group of professionals, volunteering their time to address preservation-related issues. In February, the “Doctor Is In” consultation provided information to Reverend Kary Mann, the Reverend of Trinity Episcopal in Independence, Missouri.



The Trinity Episcopal church has had its doors open for weekly services since 1881 and was frequented by First Lady Bess Wallace Truman and President Harry S. Truman and was the location where they were married. Reverend Mann consulted with the “Doctors” in February as she needed help locating additional contractors for their building renovation that will address the church’s needs for measures to combat moisture coming into the building, including brick repointing, appropriate guttering, restoration of the interior plaster walls, and painting. The Historic Preservation Committee was able to provide Reverend Mann a list of local contractors as well as contractors from across Missouri that could do all of the work or could specialize on certain aspects of the building renovation. Also, since this is a major project, a diverse mix of grants, local funds, and other funding options will need to be used for this project. The “Doctors” outlined several possible grant and other funding options for these efforts. In addition, Resource Development Coordinator Katelyn Brotherton provided possible grant opportunities for which Reverend Mann could be eligible to apply. The Historic Preservation Committee also talked about other funding opportunities, including how to raise money locally for these revitalization efforts. As a result, Reverend Mann is applying for a grant through the National Trust’s Fund for Sacred Places, a grant centered on helping places of worship. As this work progresses, Missouri Main Street Connection will provide updates on the efforts of Trinity Episcopal Church.



This service is available to all communities in good standing in the top 3 tiers: Accredited, Associate, and Affiliate. Community Empowerment Grant and St. Louis Main Street communities/districts are also eligible as communities in the Affiliate Tier. To see if your community is represented on this list, click here: Missouri Main Street Connection Tiers Lists (as of March 4th).

The Historic Preservation Committee can consult on a wide range of preservation-related questions. You can find the application for this service here: Doctor Is In HP 2022. All applications can be submitted to Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, who will reach out for any additional information the committee may need to get a full picture of the applicant’s needs. You may be asked to provide more pictures and documentation, depending on what “Doctors” need in order to have an educated conversation and to have the full picture of your needs. Please be sure to submit all requested supporting documents as outlined in the application form.  The application is simple and serves as the initial communication with Ben. The applicant will then be invited to a Zoom meeting to explain and discuss the problem with the “Doctors” at which time the “Doctors” will provide feedback. Then, Ben will provide any additional feedback and follow-up. Reach out to Ben with any questions. We are looking forward to seeing your submission!

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After an exciting award for her renovation of the 104 S. Main Street building in Clinton, Missouri, Sarah Goth owner of The Bluebird Mercantile continues to exemplify the Main Street Approach™ for her community highlighting the importance of investing in their own community. Let’s go back to 2019 Clinton Main Street and Sarah Goth of The Bluebird Mercantile won the ‘Best Façade Rehabilitation, under $10,000’ award. Tina Williams the current Executive Director of Clinton Main Street shares the feelings and thoughts of the former Executive Director and board members in an interview with MMSC saying,

               “When it was announced Sarah, the owner, didn’t believe it. It was a wonderful thing for Clinton. Since our community is on the small side, we don’t expect that kind of recognition. It was nice to have this be recognized and shared with all the other Missouri communities.”

Winning this award was reinvigorating and acted as a catalyst for Clinton as it showed through hard work what could be done by its own property owners and businesses. Sarah and Tina shared that many on the east side of the Clinton Square have come to Sarah for advice on ways to save and learn from her experience in rehabilitating her building from the knob and tube wiring to restoring the shelving units and ceiling. There is so much to know about rehabilitating an old building and that is just what Sarah loves to share with her community. Her own experience provides her fellow business owners with a deeper understanding of what it takes and how to make it happen on a budget.

We would be remise if we did not highlight the touching story of how The Bluebird Mercantile got its start, as Main Street businesses don’t get their charm just from their old building, but the history and significance to its owner and community. Sarah has always dreamed of owning her own business since she was little and would say that what she wanted to do when she grew up was to own a retail store. Then, her father planted the seed for what kind of retail business she wanted to open after listening to what he would say about his wishes for Clinton, “My dad who was an economic developer in Clinton always wanted somewhere he could take people to get locally made Missouri products and products from the Clinton area that would highlight what Clinton has to offer.” The location she envisioned was 104 S. Main Street as it was once home to Simes Shoe Store, which her childhood neighbor owned, and had many fond memories of running up the loft stairs to pick up her shoes. With the location and type of business she wanted to open, the name came natural to Sarah, “The Bluebird Mercantile,” getting its name from the Missouri state bird that is featured on some of her Missouri products. The Bluebird Mercantile has become one of the quintessential places in downtown Clinton as it offers Main Street patrons a variety of things to discover.

Sarah’s story truly is why Main Street is important. Missouri Main Street sees Sarah as an amazing success story and uses this in spreading Main Street to more communities so that alongside local efforts we can continue to empower business owners to make a difference in their community, protect places that have memories for the community, and support the development of Missouri Main Streets as economic hearts of their community welcoming a diverse mix of businesses.

If you haven’t already watched the 1 Billion highlight of Sarah Goth and Tina Williams check out that video here: https://youtu.be/kz1IJ1GbhzM.

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Ben White »

The National Register for Historic Places contains many amazing places that have historical and/or architectural significance that can aid communities in pursuing revitalization. Some examples include the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historic District, the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs, and the Joplin YMCA building. The National Register of Historic Places is a list honoring districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that meet the criteria of significance. The significance falls into several categories, but the predominant ones are location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association to a specific era, person, and event within the past 50 years. You can learn more about these criteria by reading National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. 


The National Register designation of districts and landmarks is a valuable tool in the preservation tool belt. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what this designation means.  


First, the government can’t tell you what to do when renovating your building. This designation does not prohibit work from occurring on the interior or exterior of the building and the government will not be able to claim you violated a law. The designation does provide the guidelines for renovations to follow through the Secretary of Interior’s Standards in order to retain the historic significance of the building that qualifies it for designation and what makes it attractive to heritage travelers. Therefore, in following the established guidelines you are able to have a greater return on investment on your renovation through the economic benefits it provides, especially when it comes to heritage tourism.


Second, you don’t have to allow public access to your property. If you are listing your residence, for instance, this does not open your property to give visitors free reign to step on your property for a tour. Property rights laws still apply, providing that security.  However, it means that there is formal recognition of the property’s historical and/or architectural significance.  


Many heritage travelers look for these designated historic places in which to visit and spend money, so going through the formal designation process is important to attract these kinds of people. Heritage travelers have been shown to spend 2.5 times more than ordinary travelers when visiting communities. In addition, it opens up the property for potential preservation incentives including state and federal grants and tax credits for rehabilitation. This helps drive down the cost of renovation and redevelopment and strengthens the building’s standing in the community. 


To learn more about the process of listing a building or historic district on the National Register of Historic places, visit the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office here: https://mostateparks.com/page/85341/national-register-historic-places  

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