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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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The end of December is here, which means the closing of the year 2021 and what a year it has been. Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has many things to be thankful for with one being the partnership with the Economic Development Administration for the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant.

 


Looking at the numbers, the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is fulfilling its mission by building more resilient economies and stronger downtowns across the state through strengthening organizations and businesses in Main Street communities. In 2021, Downtown Strong grant committed to assisting 17 Main Street organizations and 63 businesses in 20 communities from Trenton to Joplin and Washington to Campbell.  MMSC and 12 consulting firms have been working to deliver services to various communities that were scheduled for 4th quarter 2021 into 2022 under this grant. 

The Downtown Strong grant is working in a variety of communities with populations ranging from 1,800 to 98,000 and Main Street programs run solely by volunteers to programs with multiple staff members. The grant program includes a wide range of downtown business types including retail, restaurants, personal trainers, interior designers, artists, a food co-op, and an innovation center. These grant participants are working to contribute to their community and strengthen their business through this process.

 

Missouri Main Street Connection and our team of consultants are excited to carry the momentum we have into 2022 as we finish delivering services in some communities and businesses and start working in new communities and business that have been scheduled in early 2022.

  


This update 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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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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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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There is a lot of action in the Downtown Strong Grant world now that the consultants have hit the ground running. 

 

´╗┐We are working with 12 different consultant groups who all are passionate about helping each business and organization be successful and thrive!


Approximately 90% of the 65 businesses and 17 organizations have had initial contact with their consultants and an initial meeting of some sort (mostly virtual) with their consultants. In these meetings, the consultants have learned more about the business or organization and asked a lot of tough questions to see where the business or organization stands, if anything has changed since the application process, and what they want to accomplish. It gives them the information needed to provide the best services possible within the grant guidelines and budget.


Some of the consultants have already set up on-site visits over the next couple of months and all are moving as quickly as possible to deliver their services. MMSC plans to also have a presence at as many of these on-site visits as possible to strengthen this partnership (business/organization – consultant – MMSC) and to continue to grow these relationships.


If you are one of the businesses or organizations who have not yet had initial contact with your consultant, don’t be concerned. You will hear something soon! Each of the consultants are working in their own unique way and on their specific timelines, but all are committed to this program!


If you have any questions or want to chat about this program and services, please reach out to Project Manager, Marla Mills. We can’t wait to see the impact of this program on Missouri’s downtowns and their businesses!!

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Spring - Finally!

Now it is time to think about our buildings! 

This is the perfect time for every business and property owner downtown to take a serious look at their building for both maintenance issues and to evaluate whether it is time to make visual improvements.

Instead of starting with the glitz and glamour—it is really important to go through a checklist of basic maintenance items to be prepared for the spring storms and summer sunshine.

First, take a good look at the back of your building. Are the gutters and downspouts in good condition? Or have they gotten disconnected or damaged—it is easy to check during a rain storm to be sure the water is being carried down and away from the building instead of backing up on the roof or blasting onto the back wall where it can cause leaks through the roof or damage the back wall—both expensive to repair and easy to avoid with just a regular inspection of the gutters.

Then, make sure all the trash and leaves that collects through the winter, and even the dead weeds, are all cleared out—both in back and out front—this let’s people know you are really still in business. First impressions count for you and the entire downtown!

 

Cleaning the window glass so it sparkles and hosing down the canvas awnings to remove dust helps the building shine.

 

Now is a good time to check your exterior lighting as well as the lights for your display windows to make sure they are working well—it is hard to compete with the summer sunshine—it is so bright that it will look like your business is closed if you don’t have lights on.

With the basic spring cleaning finished, now is the time when property and business owners should take a step back—across the street—to really look at the front of the building.  Does it look tired and worn? Does it need a fresh coat of paint? Or is it time that you want to consider a major facelift or a new sign? This is the time of year to make those design decisions and line up the contractors who will help you get it done. Remember, your downtown’s Main Street Design Committee can help provide some great ideas and design assistance.

If you think it is time to do a major renovation and repairs, you might want to investigate whether you could utilize some of the financial incentives available to help fund these expenses. If you are in an historic district, you might be able to use historic tax credits to offset 25 to 45% of those improvements. Your city government or Main Street program may have other incentives to help as well. Ask your local Main Street director for details!

Here are two links from our friends in Illinois on building maintenance:

http://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/Preserve/Documents/Maintenance%20Schedule%202013.pdf

http://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/Preserve/Documents/site_review_form.pdf

Written by Karen Bode Baxter, Preservation Specialist and Advisory Board Member of Missouri Main Street Connection.

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