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



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Janie Dennison

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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Welcome to spring and with it, hopefully spring temperatures! 

The Historic Preservation Committee is excited to bring a lot of resources to our communities, including the one-pager on painting your building and additional one-pager documents in the future. The committee is really dedicated to bringing tangible resources to your community, so be on the lookout in the future for more of these types of resources. Also, the committee has a really exciting announcement at the Missouri Main Street Conference July 28-30, so be on the lookout for that. 

Have you begun preparations for Preservation Month in May? This important time of the year is a big opportunity to celebrate your historic downtown, the unique-to-you part of your community. You can celebrate this in a myriad of ways, ranging from an architectural scavenger hunt to walking tours. As long as you celebrate your community’s history, that’s what’s important! How will you celebrate?

Now is the time to check on those downtown buildings to make sure they withstood the freezing and thawing of the winter. Look for popped our brick, paint that has weathered off and more. In April, we will talk a little more about this, but start walking around your downtown now to make sure the buildings are well-taken care of and don’t need work as we head into warmer weather.

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Main Street America brings to light the impact of COVID-19 through its recent survey with particular interest dedicated to our local main street businesses. They found that despite the troubles over the past year there is much to hope for in the power of people.

Over the past year, whether you’re in a metropolis, rural suburb, or quaint town, COVID-19 has affected everyone including the people we talk with daily—from our cashier during grocery runs to the local store, our barber during our weekly haircuts, and our Saturday shopping sprees at boutiques:
“88% of small business owner respondents were concerned about the risk of permeant closure… 29% reporting they wouldn’t last beyond the next three months… 45% reporting they won’t last beyond the next six months… 51% of businesses had laid off or lost employees…net loss of 2,380 jobs” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).

These places are bearing the burden under imposed regulations and lockdowns that have put barriers and hurdles in the way of providing what their communities need and their livelihood; including our beloved historic mom-and-pop shops or new innovative entrepreneur ventures. This has created further duress as the tools that have equipped many in both urban and rural centers to attain financial freedom, have now been pulled out from under them as a result of the pandemic:
“frustrations with changing regulations on business operations…new expenses to adapt operations…coping with reduced demand…frustration with requiring customers to abide by mask and social distancing regulations…additional credit card debt [and more financial strains] … leaning on savings [and other assets] to keep their business afloat” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).

Then what has kept communities across Missouri afloat throughout the ongoing pandemic? Is it the hope of a promised stimulus check, I doubt it? It is the measures that small businesses and local organizations have taken to not only support their communities but to support themselves, which have been far beyond what many could imagine and have carried us this far. This exceptional strength, dedication, and collective power grows out of the resilience of people in their communities that won’t give up no matter what odds are stacked against them. They adapt to what life throws at them because their livelihood depends on it and that is the life they are used to as members and owners of working-class America. Main street programs are continually supporting their communities in lieu of government aid and help allocate the aid that is available to those who need it most:
“feeling the crisis in their own work… 63% of programs expect to have reduced budgets” “but 58% of programs expect they will try to do more with less” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).

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