We love historic downtowns!

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

Public and Private INVESTMENT

$1000000000

Net new businesses

834

Net New jobs

4109

volunteer hours

444113

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

 

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Missouri Main Street Blog Section

The money allocated to communities by the federal and state government, to be distributed in 2021 and 2022, has city officials and many others asking how this money can best be used to support businesses and help Main Street programs revitalize downtown. With all this money available to be used, Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has been watching and learning from other coordinating programs and local Main Street programs on how city officials can support their Main Street programs or downtown using the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as well as how Main Street programs can request funds from both the city and county for applicable projects. 


The ARPA funding was passed in 2021 and distributes money to counties and municipalities that can be used to assist Main Streets and business districts recover. There are areas of the act that allow for direct support to businesses that have suffered from the effects of the pandemic through loans, grants, or technical services. Local Main Street programs have a network and presence on the street to be able to help identify what technical services are needed for downtown and its businesses that will provide the targeted assistance needed to promote long-term success, which is the goal of the ARPA. MMSC’s staff are available to help local programs further identify areas of need and a palette of services that could be utilized to meet that need. Along with staff, MMSC has a network of specialist and consultants in various specialties to assist utilizing the Main Street ApproachTM to cover all of the quality-of-life aspects of a comprehensive strategy. You can find some of those services in our Service Directory.  

 

 


The other aspect of the ARPA funding is directed to nonprofits who are eligible for pass-through funding to build capacity for downtown revitalization. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Main Street programs are eligible to request these funds to build the capacity of the organization that directly relate to its ability and capacity to support downtown businesses through the Main Street Approach™. The best way for a Main Street program to approach the city or county is to develop a well thought out plan demonstrating the need and then proposing action items to address that need. This plan should be an updated and current comprehensive plan with identified goals and actionable items strategically addressing downtown’s needs considering the district market mix and more. Communities are in different stages across that state and may need help to establish and forecast goals for the next one to three years or develop Transformation Strategies that will direct the work of the Main Street program for the next two to five years. MMSC can provide an outside perspective, grounded in the Main Street Approach™, that guides the process and discussion on establishing the focused approach to bring together the board and committees.  There are two technical service grant options from MMSC to help with this planning process which leverage the resources of Main Street. One is the People Energizing Places (PEP) Grant, a 2-year grant that can be used for the planning process and request to the city or county as well as to help with the implementation process. The other is the Strategic Teams Engaging People (STEP) Grant, a 1-year grant that can be used for the planning process and request to the city or county. These two technical service grants are matching grants with the local program/city contributing 25% of the dollars for the services and MMSC contributing the other 75%. More information on both of these grant opportunities can be found here.

 

 


Do not miss your opportunity to leverage the dollars from the federal and state government to invest in the long-term success of your downtown district. Successful communities are distinctive communities. Our downtowns make each of us distinct from our neighbors down the road.  It is time to invest in our downtown not only for the current generation but also future generations.

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Holidays are when Main Street comes alive and becomes increasingly busier as community members and guests shop, visit, and enjoy downtown and the events that take place during the winter holiday season. This means both the local Main Street organization and its businesses are busy meeting the needs of their customers. As a result of the holiday frenzy, on-site visits are slowing down a bit, but there is still a lot of action in the Downtown Strong grant program.

 

The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant has been successful so far due to its scope, which is to strengthen individual businesses and local Main Street organizations that have faced hardships due to the pandemic, by providing one-on-one consultations.



 

There is some flexibility in these services that allows the consultant to adapt their delivery to meet the most current needs as they work with the businesses and organizations. This process ensures recipients are receiving what they need for long-term success. 

 

Our team of consultants use their years of professional experience in evaluating the needs of the businesses and organizations to provide services that address true needs. In addition, the consultants are collaborating as the need arises when they work with businesses or communities that are receiving multiple services. These services often overlap or affect the other and consultants are working to make the process as efficient and effective as possible.


 

 

Over the last month our communities and consultants have seen good movement along the progression of this grant. BOLD was back on-site in Dutchtown providing training for The Wink which included setting up protocols, roles, and talking through strategies for ads with follow-up training planned in January to teach them to fully manage their social media and advertising.

 

Downtown Lee’s Summit started work with Jim Thompson who is helping them figure out the best ways to utilize and track information for future development as Lee’s Summit changes overtime, with many changes happening right now. This includes learning how to read demographic surveys and information of the community and how to best manage and utilize their building and business inventory. Also, during the past month, Downtown Strong Project Manager Marla Mills was able to visit and follow-up independently with several businesses in Lee’s Summit.


 

 

Jim Thompson also worked on-site with Clinton Main Street to develop the best process to use their demographic information for business recruitment.

 

Ben Muldrow with Arnett Muldrow and Associates did some on-site work in Trenton and, along with Jim Thompson, worked with Main Street Chillicothe as they work on recruitment, district marketing and upper story development.

 

Russ Volmert with Fora Planning was on-site with Downtown Lee’s Summit and Downtown Excelsior Partnership working on wayfinding plans. In addition, he is working with Warrensburg Main Street on a public space utilization plan. All things that will support the future development of these three downtowns!

 

The rest of our consultant team continue to work behind the scenes on research, strategies, and plans when not on-site with our communities. With the Holiday season starting, the on-site visits are slowing down, but that doesn’t mean work has stopped.


 

 

If you have any questions or want to chat about this program or your services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills.

 

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

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The One Billion Partnership
AUTHOR
Ben White »

In 2021, Missouri Main Street Connection celebrated $1 billion of private and public investment in Main Street districts across Missouri. This incredible investment, tracked since 2006, has transformed downtowns.


There are key differences between public and private investment. Public investment is described as dollars spent by the public sector, including city, county, and state governments while private investment comes from other non-governmental sources. Since Missouri Main Street Connection has been collecting statistics, private investment has more than doubled that of public investment in downtowns. The doubling of private investment has been possible in part due to the public sector’s emphasis in creating the foundation for development.


In 2012, Cape Girardeau showcased why having a public and private partnership is essential for sustaining revitalization. Shortly before 2012, a new casino was developed along the riverfront. To enhance the area and attract people to the river, the casino partnered with the City of Cape Girardeau and Old Town Cape on a beautification project on one of downtown’s main corridors, Broadway Street. This project included new streets, major landscaping, and new cantilever street lighting that transformed downtown in a meaningful way. This project brought much needed beautification, lighting, and walkability measures to this busy thoroughfare, a long-identified need from the community.  Here is what Liz Haynes, Executive Director of Old Town Cape, said about the project:


“The Broadway streetscape project in Cape Girardeau exemplifies how sound community planning can transform a street and neighborhood and propelled extensive private and public investment in the Broadway corridor. A result of the planning efforts has been increased pedestrian activity, investment in buildings and facades, and an enhanced, beautiful street for Old Town Cape.”

 

 


Public investment can be the catalyst in private sector downtown development efforts. The Main Street philosophy focuses on leveraging together resources to capitalize on small incremental changes that change the perspective of downtown and utilize good business practices to attract investors and partners with the potential market of a vibrant downtown. Private investment many times happens when there is a shown effort to revitalize downtown. As a result of these collaborative efforts in Cape Girardeau, eight blocks of Broadway Street received the 2021 American Planning Association Missouri Great Place Award. This award recognizes projects and places that have shown to have great economic impact on an area.


Investment in downtown comes from intentional efforts to revitalize. However, this effort takes more than just one or two people, but it truly takes the community. Public and private investment need to work hand in hand for true, comprehensive development that will be sustainable. Investment doesn’t happen on accident; it takes forethought and a plan by all who want to envision a thriving community that provides a high quality of life for its community members.

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Winter is coming and with that can come all sorts of cold and water related issues. This is a crucial time for your building and if potential problems are not dealt with now, the repairs will just become more expensive down the road. Make sure the building is prepped correctly so these next few months don’t cause headache down the road in the spring and summer time. Here are some steps that building owners can take for these winter months:

 

- Check weather stripping around windows and doors. Install to prevent air infiltration. (1 hour, depending on type)


- If applicable, install interior storm windows for winter. (2 hours)


- Caulk any gaps in wood for a temporary water tight seal. (30 min)


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


- Sweep debris from flat or low sloping roofs. (30 min)

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Photography is one of the greatest tools a Main Street program can use in continuing their great work. Words often associated with photography are preservation, documentation, evidence, proof, and memories. These words coalesce what distinguishes Main Street from other groups and non-profits; that is its focus and dedication on preserving the historic character of downtowns as the heart of the community through its central location and hub for entrepreneurs, businesses, events, and more. It is this historic character that draws people in through a sense of living and visiting a unique place.

This intersection between photography and Main Street centers on its mission to record, document, and preserve a community’s life and patrons. Without pictures, we would know very little about the look of our Main Streets from the 1900s, but because the time and effort people took in the past to photograph what they did we have a better picture of what Main Streets looked like in the past and how vibrant they were. There are many famous pictures you see today that portray the mundane, people’s normal lives or regular buildings of that time that we now reflect back on and cherish as part of our community’s past. It is imperative that we continue what our predecessors have done and document the work we do for others to reflect on and become inspired by in years to come.


Four Benefits from Documenting Main Street Preservation


Showing Impact: Photographs and recorded materials can be used in reports provided to stakeholders, donors, partners, or city and county officials to demonstrate the impact and return on investment Main Street has in communities through the work of its citizens. Words and numbers do a good job at communicating what we need them to, but a photo truly is worth a thousand words with what can be conveyed. These reports include annual reports, partnership brochures, stakeholder brochures, etc. Wait and see just how you can spur new investment by capturing and sharing how you have used past investment wisely and for community benefit.

 

Promotion of District and Main Street Organization: Photograph your events, volunteers, and other Main Street activities to include in your promotional campaigns and materials. Focus on capturing candid moments and event photography that people can cherish, look back on, and enjoy. Also, consider how your photos can communicate a sense of place by capturing your streets and buildings in streetscapes, landscape, or cityscape photography.

Preservation: Capturing moments in history show to people what and how spaces used to be in decades past and today for future generations. These photos can showcase your district’s unique buildings and architectural features and use drone footage to show the entire district and the changes that happen with infill or empty lot activation. Add an annual pictoral survey of your district into your action plan so that you make time to document the changes.

Grant Writing: Photographing the before, during, and after of your projects are important records that are asked and required for grant writing and reporting. For example, under the Historic Tax Credit programs offered at the state and federal levels before work starts pictures are requested for the application to show the current condition and pictures during the project, after completion, and in use for documentation.

 

Tips for Photographing Main Street

 

  • Take as many photos as you can so you have an ample amount to pick the best from.
  • If you have access to a digital camera become familiar with its settings and use it over a phone to ensure a higher pixel density and quality.
  • Take pictures as often as you can of your district at events and minor and major projects to record the changes that happen to highlight all that is going on in your district.
  • Consider different angles and perspectives to capture the breadth of your district and all of the nooks and crannies.
  • Share your pictures so others may fall in love with your district.


How will you capture the heart of your district and its people to preserve and tell later on?

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Through 2021, Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has been working with our St. Louis Main Streets districts to educate them on the Main Street Approach™, establish their Board and committees, and prioritize the goals for their districts to succeed.


Following visits from consultants specializing in all areas of the Main Street Approach™, Dutchtown Main Streets was presented with and accepted two Transformation Strategies that will guide their organization’s revitalization work. Their guiding Transformation Strategies are Entrepreneurship Development and Serving the Neighborhood. These strategies build on the entrepreneurial spirit that is already present and working in Dutchtown as well as the residential density that surrounds the commercial district.


The Laclede’s Landing Neighborhood Association has worked to establish their Board of Directors and set up committees. MMSC worked with the organization to gain insight from the district’s stakeholders including property owners, business owners, and residents to better inform their revitalization work. In November, MMSC staff and our team of consultants will work with Laclede’s Landing to determine next steps for the organization to take in utilizing the Main Street Approach™ for their district revitalization.


MMSC has recently accepted the third St. Louis Main Streets district into the pilot program. Delmar Main Streets has established their Board of Directors and are in the early stages of learning how best to utilize the Main Street Approach™ in their district by setting up their committees and gathering neighborhood input. MMSC’s consultant team will work with the district to determine the organization and district brand as well as the collective vision for the district.


St. Louis Main Streets is a pilot urban Main Street program created by Missouri Main Street Connection through partnership with the St. Louis Development Corporation to bring the Main Street Approach™ to three commercial districts in St. Louis.


If you have any questions regarding the St. Louis Main Streets pilot program, MMSC, or the Main Street Approach™ call our office at 417-334-3014 or email us at  info@momainstreet.org.

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

The Missouri Main Street Connection Historic Preservation Committee had its first “Doctor Is In” consultation in September with Julie McBride, owner of Wyoming Street Wine Stop in Pleasant Hill, MO. Wyoming Street Wine Stop serves a variety of food and wines from all around the world making it truly a destination business for Pleasant Hill. Julie, along with her husband Robert, look to provide an experience for the residents of Pleasant Hill and draw in bikers from the nearby Katy Trail.


Julie reached out to Missouri Main Street Connection’s Historic Preservation Committee for help with renovating the façade of her building and the funding options for the renovation. The original vision was to tear out the existing storefront in order to try to recreate the original façade from when the building was first constructed in the early 1900s. During the meeting, the committee recommended adding an attractive awning and paint, as well as suggesting preventative upkeep measures for the building as ways to enhance the existing storefront instead of recreating the original storefront. These recommendations came from reviewing the history of the community, district, and building by the committee in preparation for the meeting. The building that currently houses the Wyoming Street Wine Stop gained its existing storefront as part of a major renovation that happened in the 1950s, which is the same period of significance that was part of the National Register nomination for the Pleasant Hill National Register district.


Even though the storefront is not original, it is still historic at over 70 years old and coincides with the historic significance of the district. Making changes to the existing façade is important versus making drastic changes to the look, in order to be eligible for historic tax credits and to keep the building historically significant. These recommendations considered the historic tax credit program and what qualifies as an eligible expense to provide guidance for Julie in where to start with historic tax credits and who she should talk to if historic tax credits are to be potentially used on the project.


The meeting provided direction for her and her husband as they talk with an architect on the next steps following their meeting. Currently, the upper floor and back of the building are the primary focus, with the enhancement of the façade to be completed after these first projects. The upper floor is planned to be activated and turned into residential use. “Thank you and the team so much for taking the time to help Robert and I navigate historic preservation,” said Julie McBride after the consultation was completed and follow-up material was given.


The Historic Preservation Committee is ready to help you with any preservation-related questions that you or a downtown stakeholder may have. “We welcome any and all applicants from Missouri Main Street Connection’s top three Tiers to submit an application to the Historic Preservation Committee. We’re ready to help and be of service to downtown districts in Missouri,” said John Vietmeier, the chair of the Historic Preservation Committee. This meeting serves as the initial consultation and the connector for future steps needed. Historic preservation-related discussions could include but are not limited to: façade renovation assistance, building materials and maintenance issues, historic tax credits, and funding questions.


If you are interested in talking with the team of professionals about a historic preservation-related question, you can fill out a short form outlining the problem here: https://www.momainstreet.org//Programs.aspx?PID=1099.


All submissions should be turned into Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, by email at ben@momainstreet.org. Please attach all applicable pictures to the submission. After receipt, Ben will follow up with any additional materials and information needed and work to set a time to join the virtual meeting. Applicants must be in a community from the top three MMSC Tiers: Accredited, Associate, or Affiliate. 

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Transformation Strategies came out of the Main Street Refresh that the National Main Street Center did in 2015 and are now being integrated into their new accreditation standards, which will be rolling out in the near future.  The accreditation standards are a measure of a local Main Street program’s work and impact in their downtown district.  This assessment determines whether a local program receives the accredited designation. 

 

In 2015, the National Main Street Center created a Task Force of Main Street and downtown revitalization specialist who led what they called the Main Street Refresh, which looked at the Main Street Four Points to determine if they were still relevant since their creation in the late 1970s.  The results of the Refresh indicated that the Four Points are still very relevant to the Main Street Approach™, but the framework can be used in a more flexible way, allowing for a variety of organizational models.  It also noted that preservation still remains a focus, but additionally, the work of the Main Street program needs to be driven by an understanding of the market conditions both locally and regionally.  Community engagement is vital to the success and sustainability of any Main Street program including residents, district stakeholders, and key partners.  The last finding in the report pertains to the idea of Transformation Strategies and ties all of these things together.  The Task Force noted that “the direction of a Main Street program is guided by Transformation Strategies – economically-supportable statements around which the program develops its action plans.  Transformation Strategies incrementally create positive change in a district’s economy and are implemented through simultaneous activity across the Four Points.”  Another way of looking at Transformation Strategies is that they are economic strategies, which help guide and focus the work of the local Main Street program.  Main Street programs do not have unlimited resources so Transformation Strategies determine priorities for two to five years to get the highest return on their efforts. 

 

Transformation Strategies are being integrated into the new accreditation standards since the findings from the Refresh reinvigorate the Main Street Approach™. Transformation Strategies elevate the processes, strategic planning, and annual board planning sessions that Main Street has used to successfully revitalize their district by refining the rough edges.  We all have experienced planning sessions and meetings that have felt like an exercise in herding cats.   There are many forces pulling and pushing a Main Street board of directors.  This new Transformation Strategy focus provides guidance for the local program using community input, light market analysis, and some outside help and support.  In the pilot communities utilizing Transformation Strategies, the board of directors and executive directors liked the new process because it helped them focus the work of the committees but also allowed them to say NO to certain things because it did not fit into the current strategies. 

 

The development of Transformation Strategies is not rocket science, but the process of community input, analyzing market information, and looking at current conditions brings the necessary steps into focus for creating those impactful economic strategies to move the district forward for the next 2-5 years. 

 

Missouri Main Street Connection is currently working with our communities to develop Transformation Strategies to focus their revitalization work and prepare for the National Main Street Center’s new accreditation standard to roll out in the near future. The Accredited and Associate Tiered organizations are undergoing the process of developing Transformation Strategies if they have not already done so in past years. This framework has involved a meeting with the board of directors and the staff to review the process, evaluate past successes and opportunities, gather organizational and district information, and prepare for an online community survey.  The 16-question survey was developed to garner information on how the community views downtown, how they currently use downtown, and what they would like to see downtown.  The results of the survey are evaluated with demographic and market data to start painting a picture of opportunities and needs in the downtown district.  Missouri Main Street Connection staff analyzes the data along with past knowledge of the district and community to recommend one to two Transformation Strategies for the board of directors to consider.  After board discussion and adoption, the organization begins to integrate the strategies into current projects or events, while also brainstorming new project or events with the goal of implementing economic change within the district that align with the new focus. 

 

Missouri Main Street Connection also currently uses the Transformation Strategy development process in the Community Empowerment Grant program with new communities establishing a Main Street program to establish the process of strategy development as a foundational tool for the organization in the beginning. 

 

For more information on The Main Street Refresh or Transformation Strategies, visit the Main Street Resource Library under the Organization Point at www.MoMainStreet.org.  

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Missouri Main Street Connection and our team of Downtown Strong consultants began onsite visits in communities across Missouri. After a busy month with coordinating calls and Zoom meetings, consultants are now having on-site visits where they can gather more information about the business and organizations they will be working with.

 

BOLD Marketing has been in Cape Girardeau, Dutchtown (St. Louis), Lebanon, and Clinton. Cygnet Strategies did a whirlwind tour of Carthage, Joplin, Lebanon, and Independence. MarksNelson has visited Lee’s Summit. Downtown Professionals Network spent time in southeast Missouri at Cape Girardeau and will be traveling to Campbell soon! Jon Stover & Associates will be landing in Warrensburg the first week of November.

 

If your community hasn’t started the process or hosted a consultant yet, don’t worry. Much of the work is being done virtually or in advance of visits. Our partner consultants have hit the ground running and still have more work to do.


We are finding that most of our participating businesses and organizations are better than they think and have such great potential! They have made it through the roughest time of the pandemic. And now many need help managing change and figuring out how to grow their business in this new business environment. Some need guidance on the ever-changing media platforms and how they can share that they are “open for business” and want to continue to serve their customers or clients. Business owners have felt that the visits have been helpful because they are able to talk to someone with a fresh and knowledgeable perspective. And often they know the answers but need affirmation.


After meeting with one business, Vicky Soderberg with Cygnet said, “We came up with ideas that they could run with starting today and they are definitely a poster child for what is possible!”


The impact of the Downtown Strong Building Resilient Communities Grant program will be that the participating businesses and organizations will be stronger, more resilient, and better able to reach their awesome potential!


If you have any questions or want to chat about this program or your services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills.

 

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

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Our Affiliate Tier is home to many different types of communities from urban pilot programs enrolled in Saint Louis Main Streets, community programs getting started through the Community Empowerment Grant (CEG) program, and communities that have graduated out of the CEG program and are strong, sustainable revitalization organizations like the Historic River District, the Main Street program in Ozark, Missouri.

 

The Historic River District fully utilized their time in the Community Empowerment Grant program (formerly the Affiliate Grant Program) and built the foundation of a strong, sustainable organization that is making an impact in downtown Ozark. Chris Schafer, the President of Historic River District, remarked about their organizations time in the CEG program:

 

“I would recommend the grant services to anyone that is looking to improve their community. The training and structure that was given through these grant services were second to none from an organization (Main Street) that truly understands what it takes to improve your downtown community. It is unbelievable how much support and information is available on what to do to improve your community and how to go about it. The training opportunities that were afforded to us gave the direction and guidance for what each committee needed to work."

 

Chris Schafer lists the amazing things that have happened in their community since graduating out of the Community Empowerment Grant from placemaking and beautification to community amenities to even events:

• A veterans tribute on the anniversary of the end of the WWI in conjunction with the Christian County Museum and the local American Legion;

• Trunk or Treat Event on the Square;

• Cruising the Square event;

• The Heart of Ozark Gala;

• Haunted Walking Tour program in the fall;

• Friday Night Parade of Lights;

• A beautiful mural along South Jackson Street; and

• A new Gazebo on the Christian County square.

 

"This Affiliate Grant also helped us to build strong relationships with both city and county government. It has been a blessing to our organization and our community," Chris Schafer.

 

If you are interested in revitalizing your downtown using the structured services and resources of the Community Empowerment Grant program, please reach out to Program Outreach Specialist Ben White at ben@momainstreet.org or (816) 560-1722 for more information.

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