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

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Net new businesses


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



Missouri Main Street Blog Section

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the American Rescue Plan, one of the largest economic rescue plans in American history. It has a mix of initiatives to help economic recovery and to fight COVID-19's impact. The nearly $2 trillion plan is complex, and without guidance, it is hard to understand all of the uses and eligible activities for local communities or downtowns to utilize. Luckily, there have been several organizations following along for guidance from the federal government on the uses and application of the funds that will be disbursed to local municipalities, counties, and state governments.

“Municipalities and counties can use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Funding to help Main Streets and business districts recover.” Main Street America has been following the U.S. Treasury Interim Final Report along with other entities to provide guidance for local Main Street programs.

There are three main areas for Main Street action related to the ARPA funds.

For Small Businesses: ARPA funds can be used to financially assist businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses and non-profits, through ARPA, are eligible for grants, loans, and services that include: prevention measures or mitigation, technical assistance, counseling, or other services to assist with business planning needs. More information can be found on pages 34-35 of the U.S. Treasury Interim Final Report document.




For Main Street Programs: If your Main Street program is a non-profit, ARPA allows for its funds to directly invest in building capacity and provide support for downtown revitalization. Multiple surveys have shown that Main Street programs were instrumental in supporting the business community downtown during the pandemic.

Main Street programs became communication tools advising small businesses on ways to adjust their business model during lock-downs and then reopen safely. Main Street programs worked with cities on new zoning, relaxing existing zoning to support more outdoor seating, or to-go alcohol sales to remove barriers for struggling businesses. ARPA funding can be used to ensure proper funding for staffing the Main Street program and assist with direct funding as fundraising efforts have been affected by the pandemic.

For Business District Recovery: The U.S. Treasury identified business districts as an impacted industry, so State and local ARPA funds can be directed towards the needs of the entire downtown business district (page 36). See more details on how the district can qualify through lost revenue on pages 58-60 which it includes employment loss or business income lost. Other qualifying metrics include vacancy rates, rent per square foot, reduced sales tax, or foot traffic. Look at your district to determine what might best work. Estimates are that 30% of restaurants closed nationwide and that may be your indicator of impact in your district. Business district financial support may be used for district-wide marketing, placemaking, and streetscape improvements. Business district support should also consider investing in the future of the district through entrepreneur support, district recruitment planning, or specialized support for retailers or restauranteurs.

Main Street America stated that “most Main Street businesses (73%) were started by local entrepreneurs – not outside recruitment activities. To support business district recovery, municipalities should support entrepreneurial ecosystem building activities.”

If you need help with business recovery activities or support, Missouri Main Street Connection is equipped to help. Missouri Main Street offers several matching grants to provide services to your downtown revitalization efforts.

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Ben White »

The Historic Preservation Committee of Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) is excited to offer "The Doctor Is In” service to Main Street communities from the MMSC Board of Directors and Advisory Board. This service serves as an initial consultation with a group of professionals about preservation-related questions, including: building material maintenance, funding, tax credits, façade renovation inquiries, and more. The committee will serve as the connector for the next steps with your project and put you in contact with professionals in the field that could be of additional assistance.


This service is available to all communities in good standing in the top three tiers: Accredited, Associate, and Affiliate. Community Empowerment Grant and St. Louis Main Streets communities/districts are also eligible as communities in the Affiliate Tier. To see if your community is represented on this list, click here.


To find and download the application for this service, click here. All applications are due to our Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, before the end of the month. Ben will reach out for any additional information the committee may need to get a full scope of the applicant’s needs. The applicant will then be invited to a Zoom meeting to explain and discuss the problem with the "Doctors" at which time they will provide feedback. 

Lastly, Ben will provide any additional feedback and follow-up. The application is simple and serves as the initial communication with Ben. As such, you may be asked to provide more pictures and documentation, depending on what the "Doctors" need.

Please be sure to submit all requested supporting documents as outlined in the application form. 

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Building owners can do regular maintenance right now to lengthen the life of their building investment and to prevent larger, more expensive problems in the future. With summer, comes summer storms and vegetation growth. Here are some steps that building owners can take for these summer months:

  • Remove plants growing on or close to walls and foundation. (30 min)

  • Visually check for moss or lichen, especially around parapets, sills, and downspouts. (30 min)

  • Check grading at foundation to make sure water will drain away from building and not pool next to the building. (15 min)

  • Inspect basement or crawl space for excessive water during wet weather. (30 min)

  • Inspect interior of building for leaks during first heavy rain of season. (30 min)

  • Examine roof slope to make sure water is not pooling at any areas on the roof. (15 min)

  • Make sure water can flow freely through gutters and downspouts and clean them out if they are clogged. (30 min)

  • Sweep debris from flat or low sloping roofs. (30 min)
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By: Logan Breer and Keith Winge, Staff at MMSC 

Each business downtown is as unique as its owner. Each storefront is a blank slate ready to burst with character and opportunity. Many business owners understand their product, but some may not understand merchandising or product placement principles. Experts in the field of merchandising utilize data and study shopping behavior to create impactful store layouts and product placement to appeal to customers and their buying habits. Some simple changes can help a small business make a huge impact on the bottom line.  

Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) offered a grant program to bring merchandising experts to the state through the My Community Matters Grant that allowed communities and businesses to have access to individualized services that addressed their specific needs. MMSC’s mission with this grant was to increase net new jobs, increase local investments, expand support in downtowns, and increase the capacity of recipients. The grant was implemented by MMSC and a team of consultants in 2020. 

The team consisted of Seanette Corkill and Anne Marie Luthro with Frontdoor Back and they provided individual services for small businesses in five Missouri communities.  All of the business owners in the five communities were invited to a presentation called, The How Behind The Wow! Creating Stellar Stores and Storefronts. The presentation set the stage for the individual business visits by providing some foundational elements of store layout and store design while educating the audience on shopper behaviors.   

Monroe City, located in Northeast Missouri, was one of the communities that received individual business consultations by the Frontdoor Back duo. Monroe City joined MMSC’s network in 2017 and was awarded the My Community Matters grant in 2019. Brittnee Hinch, who is the owner of Everything Under the Sun, ran a consignment store at the time of the consultation.  She shared with the consultants that she was dabbling with carrying newer boutique-style clothing, but was fearful of making the leap away from consignment.  

Before meeting with the consultants, Brittnee did not know what to expect especially since she was a new business owner. After the initial How Behind the Wow presentation and the building walkthrough, Brittnee shared, “I felt so much better knowing that there were many changes that could be done following their constructive criticism and I had a lot of hope for my business after learning so much about the shopping experience.” 

The in-person consultation provided Brittnee with some short-term recommendations that she tackled immediately.  During the virtual presentation of the final report with the consultants, Brittnee was showing off the changes she had already made to her window display and sales floor.  She even made the comment that she could not keep product in the window display because she kept selling it.  The final report provided more dynamic and doable changes that appealed to Brittnee.  She shared, “We did all the renovations and implementations ourselves with our landlords’ permission. My husband and I sacrificed family time to make it work and often took turns working on the renovations and parenting.” She created the store she always wanted.  Changes were made big and small from a full remodel of the store space to small details to improve the shoppers’ experience. The experience cemented the importance of things she was already doing right and providing solid advice on why to follow the recommended operational procedures.  

Brittnee prioritizes the needs and wants of the community and her shoppers in her shift from a consignment store to a full boutique with the confidence gained from speaking with the Frontdoor Back consultants. Where once a 25-minute drive stood between women and fashion, now a short drive downtown to an inclusive boutique that has a variety of clothes. “We don’t reorder clothing once we sell out…this is because our community is pretty small and no one wants to be wearing the same thing as 10 other people,” Brittnee said. There are racks of a variety of sizes including plus sizes so everyone can find something no matter their size. 

 The impact these services have had is beyond expectations. After a short hiatus of repositioning, renovations, and implementing the consultants’ recommendations, the store saw their first month’s sales exceeding those of the entire year of 2020.  With money flowing from the federal government in response to COVID-19, Main Street programs across the country should bring these types of services, trainings, and resources to their small businesses in support of their local economy and livelihood.

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) in partnership with AARP Missouri, is excited to announce the completed project from Clinton Main Street as part of the AARP Community Resiliency Project. AARP Missouri invested in projects that inspire change and improve communities for all ages. Clinton Main Street was awarded $5,000 to make their resiliency project a reality. It is important for communities to activate spaces in new ways to meet the changing business climate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant was specifically designed to be implemented for the betterment of a downtown area by including community input and implementation while celebrating and encouraging inclusivity.

The Clinton Main Street JC Smith Park Community Project proposed improvements to the current JC Smith Park to become more useful to the community and local businesses while making it more spatially ideal for social distancing. JC Smith Park is a largely concrete area with benches, tables, and a swing which is fenced in on all sides with two entry gates. Having asked visitors what improvements they would like to see in the space, they identified shade and improved access as the two biggest issues. To address these issues and make the area more useful to the community and businesses, Clinton Main Street covered the area in large shade screens over the tables and seating. Clinton Main Street was able to take down sections of the fence and replace them with low planters that allow people to easily access the park and added additional lighting for evening events. A sanitizing station completed the project allowing visitors around the Square a space where they can rest and sanitize. This project had over 115 volunteer hours. 

When asked if the project had an impact in downtown Clinton, Tina Williams, Clinton Main Street Executive Director said, “It was how we envisioned the space! Already we are seeing an uptick in people using the park and feeling it is a welcoming space. We anticipate seeing its full effect next month with our Olde Glory Days celebration when space for the public will be at a premium.”
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This year has been a busy one for the pilot Main Street programs in St. Louis, now called St. Louis Main Streets. With the pandemic starting to wane, the Missouri Main Street staff has been busy working in the districts with consultants. Currently there are two confirmed Main Street districts in St. Louis with a third to be announced very soon.  

A visit in April brought the Missouri Main Street staff and specialists in downtown revitalization to the district to discuss organizational structure, branding, business development, site development, and gateway signage for the Dutchtown Main Street district.  Norma Rameriez de Miess, with National Main Street, was part of the delegation and provided insights into the aspects of an urban Main Street program from her experience in other urban districts across the country.

The highlight of the visit was the unveiling of potential branding and logos for the Dutchtown Main Street program.  Ben Muldrow, partner of Arnett Muldrow and Associates, presented a potential new brand for Downtown Dutchtown. The organization is still finalizing the decision, but if adopted, the new name of the organization would be Dutchtown Main Streets.  Since there are several commercial streets in the Dutchtown central business district (Meramec, Virginia and Grand), this brand would incorporate all of them into the revitalization movement by using the plural streets.


Laclede’s Landing
The second Pilot Main Street program in St. Louis is Laclede’s Landing.  This district is creating the new Main Street organization from scratch and are in the process of drafting and approving by-laws to govern the organization.  MMSC met with the potential new board members and answered some questions about the by-laws in May.  Once the by-laws are approved, then officers will be elected, and the foundation building and education on Main Street will begin.  

Third Pilot Main Street District
The final pilot district to join the program is still in the works.  Two districts applied and made a presentation to Missouri Main Street in April and May.  The final district will be chosen very soon with a public announcement.

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MMSC Design Services

The temporary measures communities took to create spaces for gathering and dining in light of the pandemic have become beloved places amongst residents and guests of the district. This presents an opportunity for local Main Street programs to transition their temporary spaces into established amenities that activate their downtown and appeal to residents and guests alike.

Missouri Main Street Connection offers design assistance and renderings for streetscape and amenity planning that can assist communities in developing features that capture the feeling of connectivity that are associated with the outdoor and open spaces. Now it is the time for these interim spaces to take on a new light with the help of our consultants in designing pocket parks, greenspaces, or through alley activation that provides a long-term home for these temporary amenities to provide casual, shade, seating, tables, and dining spaces through movable seating, play objects, tables, games, lighting, and activities.

Andy Kalback is one of the consultants who works with our communities and has worked with Knob Noster in the past. His work with Knob Noster reflects what can be done in many Missouri communities in response to shifts and desires for community outdoor greenspaces. Municipalities are making efforts to equitably create access to greenspaces and an example of this is Saint Louis with their Brickline Greenway project.


Please check out our service directory for information about Missouri Main Street design services that can bring vibrancy to your community. If you have any question about the services we provide, please reach out to our office at 417-334-3014 for further detail.
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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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A small group of Missourians of all ages gathered in Columbia on Wednesday May 5th to learn about historic cemeteries and proper cleaning techniques before heading to William Jewell Cemetery where they got hands on experience. This group learned how to accurately survey a cemetery, its plots, markers, and monuments.

Cemetery markers through the years have come in all shapes and sizes as attendees found out in the presentation by SHPO representative Amanda Burke. The size, shape, materials, decorative carvings, and iconography tell about the persons status prior to death. For example, the depiction of a lamb represents that the person was a child.

Markers and monuments have been made from several materials over the years based on availability of materials and region. Stones used include granite, marble, slate and concrete; metal includes bronze, iron, and zinc.

This list of materials made up of stone and metal to the average person sound tough and durable and would not require specialized care and cleaning, yet that is not the case for the markers and monuments found in historic cemeteries as their materials are delicate and need to be cared for gently. 
One of the tips for cleaning was to use brushes that you can use on your palm and not scratch up your skin, meaning no metal or abrasive materials.

Cleaning efforts like the one that attendees preformed at Jewell Cemetery offer a variety of protection from the threats that rise against historic cemeteries including: humans, ecological, and environment. Humans through neglect endanger markers via increased erosion and chipping from metal wire brushes and tough weed wacker line or through purposeful vandalism where monuments are defaced with spray-paint or broken by tipping them over, but a well kept cemetery staves off this harm. Ecological and environmental are just how they sound. Plants like vines, moss, and lichen endanger monuments through soiling and stains, while environmental factors like water erode and crack markers during the freeze cycle, yet proper and regular care keeps the compounding damage at bay and preserves these places.

Survey and recordation efforts are essential to preserving the history of those who have come before us, with the hope that when we are long gone and buried in a small cemetery that our graves will be tended for and we won’t be forgotten.

More information regarding basic monument cleaning and other preservation efforts can be found through National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Association of Gravestone Studies, CHICORA Foundation, and Missouri’s State Historic Preservation Office.

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The Community Empowerment Grant program sparked downtown revitalization efforts in Trenton. Through education and support from the program, their community created an exciting vision for the district. Executive Director Megan Taul said, "our organization has grown stronger by applying the Main Street Approach™ through historic preservation efforts, promotional planning, and entrepreneurial encouragement. The value of this approach gave us structure for development and an increase in community involvement, bringing sustainable life and joy to our downtown. We would highly recommend these services to other communities as we have gained so much from this experience through tools, resources, inspiration, and many networking opportunities! We are looking forward to the future of Downtown Trenton and MMSC!"

Board President Jackie Soptic noted, "this program helped organize our Board and provide a necessary structure to achieve success. I would strong recommend this program to any downtown organization whether they are in their infancy or well established."

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