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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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Keith Winge

Keith has been a part of the Missouri Main Street team since 2013 as the State Community Development Coordinator working with Missouri communities to organize, develop and grow their Main Street program. Before joining Missouri Main Street, Keith was a founding board member and then the first Executive Director for the Main Street program in Excelsior Springs. Keith lives in Kansas City and when he is not traveling the state, you can find him running 5Ks, gardening or cooking and eating good food.

The City of Sedalia continues to work towards revitalizing its downtown district through the city-led Main Street program formed using services provided by Missouri Main Street Connection’s People Energizing Places (PEP) matching grant. As a 75/25 matching grant with Missouri Main Street, 75% of the grant service costs are covered by Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC), the PEP grant is a great way to leverage local dollars to elevate or focus downtown revitalization efforts with the help of Main Street specialists.

 

Through the administration of PEP’s specialized trainings, Sedalia’s new board of directors, committee chairs, and volunteers have advanced their knowledge of facilitating and implementing preservation-based economic development.  Several recent trainings included services under the Promotion point of the Main Street Approach™ and more specifically creating a brand identity for the newly formed city-led Main Street program. 

 

Ben Muldrow is a branding specialist and partner with Arnett Muldrow & Associates, a creative planning firm. He has experience working in over 550 communities in 40 states and five countries.  In addition, Ben has worked in over 25 Missouri communities creating branding strategies and tools for many Main Street organizations and districts.  He spent three days in Sedalia meeting with stakeholders and city leadership to develop new branding for the downtown district and the organization.  The feedback from the stakeholders referenced the architecture from the district, being flexible for various uses, and that it should work with the new City of Sedalia branding.  Ben also took inspiration from Sedalia Main Street’s transformation strategies focused on creating an entertainment and family-friendly downtown.

 

 

 

The new branding debuted during a brand-unveiling presentation on the third day of the visit. During this presentation, Ben walked through the new branding recommendations he created based on the input sessions with complete explanations of the contents of the branding toolkit including colors, typefaces, graphics, and messaging. He elaborated on each section of the branding toolkit with its inspiration and connection to what he gathered from Sedalia’s stakeholders. The Main Street logo is anchored by the archway which is a one of the gateways into the downtown district. Downtown’s branding color palette expanded allowing the use of several colors found in the downtown district, one example being the red brick of several buildings in the district. This provides some flexibility to the system for the graphics and logos to reflect seasonal use and events. 

 

 


The City’s new branding typeface and fonts were used as the primary font for the Sedalia Main Street logo.  Another part of the City’s new branding integrated by Ben for the downtown branding was the tag line “Cross Paths.” 

 


 

Sedalia Main Street accepted Ben’s recommendations, meaning the newly formed Main Street program now has their own identify and look with new graphics presented for the downtown organization and its efforts.  All of the assets created will be available for Sedalia Main Street to create marketing and event materials.

 

 

 

This branding system will be integrated into all things Main Street from events, marketing and promotional materials, branding resources and programs offered downtown, integration into wayfinding signage, and shared with vendors for merchandise and souvenirs.  Included in the branding service was an implementation checklist and complete style guide to promote proper usage and tools to help integrate the new tools into programming and communications. 

 

If your Main Street program is interested in accelerating the downtown revitalization efforts or need some assistance with a specific project, contact Missouri Main Street Connection at 417-334-3014 or email Keith Winge at kwinge@momainstreet.org about the PEP grant or other grants that are available.  

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Milestones, collaboration, and activation have been the themes of the most recent progress from the three-pilot urban Main Street programs in St. Louis. – Dutchtown Main Streets, Laclede’s Landing Main Street, and Delmar Main Street. Missouri Main Street Connection began the St. Louis Main Streets pilot program in late 2019 as a partnership with the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC). 


Dutchtown Main Streets, a district south of the city center, began transitioning a business owners’ group into a Main Street program in late 2019 by educating the board of directors on Main Street principles, creating implementation-oriented committees, and learning how to measure the impact of projects and new businesses in the district.  Over the past three-to-six months the Main Street program has been focused on understanding and interpreting demographic and market information while identifying vacant properties in the district that are ready for development or need to be rehabilitated before development can take place.  The district is working with the Coro Fellowship Program to help establish tools for collecting economic data, reporting that data, and inventorying vacant properties.  The Coro Fellowship Program develops emerging leaders to work and lead across different sectors by equipping them with knowledge, skills, and networks to accelerate positive change. 

 

 

 

Laclede’s Landing Main Street began their Main Street program in 2021 with the goal of transitioning from what was once a night club focused district into a neighborhood district. They are utilizing their newly established transformation strategies of activating the riverfront and developing neighborhood goods and services to capitalize and continue on the work and planning that has already been completed by stakeholders, the city, and other entities. The development of more vacant upper story housing is one way they are planning to achieve their transformation strategies while building upon work that had already been taking place. There are developers already working with Laclede’s Landing Main Street on housing projects within the district which will bring more residents to what they call the “oasis of the city” tucked between the Martin Luther King and the Eads Bridges.  Related to the riverfront activation, district stakeholders and the city have prioritized the riverfront as seen in previous plans that have been developed by the city and conversations with MMSC and other organizations in the past. It is an asset that has not been capitalized on which provides opportunities for activation and additional retail while also serving as the living room for the neighborhood and visitors.  Working with the district Main Street program, conceptual documents are being developed for the riverfront including space for activation and retail as well as additional housing development.  The plans are still in the works but will follow the ideas of previous plans with the idea of phased implementation to bring them to fruition.  Stay tuned for more details in the months to come.  (The photo below is from a previous conceptual plan developed to activate the riverfront.)

 

 


November marks the one-year anniversary of Delmar Main Street’s program. November of 2021 was the kick-off stakeholder input meetings at St. Louis ArtWorks. Delmar Main Street did a repeat of that event for their anniversary giving an update on the past year to include the organizational accomplishments of forming a board of directors and Main Street committees. They also shared the committee work thus far, the impact of events they hosted, and the grants they have received for various projects—including the Creative Space Activation Grant, provided by MMSC, which will be used for the Delmar Main Street’s Transit Wall Transformation Project. The group also gave time for stakeholders to provide feedback on certain proposed projects and events for the next year. Delmar’s transformation strategies were developed with the valuable input from that first stakeholder input session in 2021 – creating people-centered places and promoting entrepreneurship and equitable development. Demographic and market information supports these strategies which focus on activating the boulevard with small businesses run by small business owners from the neighborhood while promoting ownership and equity development for those entrepreneurs. 

 

 


2023 will bring further development and services including the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a partner with Missouri Main Street Connection to bring entrepreneurial services and training to the St. Louis Main Streets program.  With economic development at the core of Main Street, this work will help build and develop small business owners, and provide access to capital and wealth-building tools to assist them in their entrepreneurial journey.  Stay tuned.

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There are countless decisions that Main Streets have to make throughout the year such as should we continue doing an event or how do we communicate the impact that this event has on the community and its businesses. Analyzing the effectiveness and impact of an event can be tricky because it requires the right data for Main Street’s board and staff to make informed decisions. Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street utilized geofencing to garner valuable data on the attendees of their largest event as their free technical service through Missouri Main Street Connection available to Accredited Main Street programs in Missouri.

 

 


Geofencing uses GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary enabling software to collect data when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.  Since geofencing is coming from cellphone data, it does not register anyone that is not carrying a cellphone or has GPS location services off.  In Main Street applications, geofencing is used to create a boundary around the Main Street district or specific area of downtown to gather information about those visiting the district. This is a technological upgrade from zip code surveys where Main Street businesses and Main Street event volunteers ask visitors for their zip codes in order to track where visitors are from. Geofencing now allows this to be done in the background.  While geofencing registers mobile devices that enter or leave the selected area, it only denotes general information from the mobile device, but not any identifying data. Instead demographic information is viewed from primary trade areas that represent areas where a significant number of attendees visited from. 

 

 


Missouri Main Street Connection worked with Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street to gather demographic information with a third-party company on those that attended one of their largest events, Downtown Days.  This is a three-day event that the Main Street leadership believed attracted thousands of attendees, however they never had a good way to measure if it was true.  They also thought they knew what cities many of the attendees were from, but it was only a guess. Through the use of geofencing they would have solid data to turn there guesses into an understanding of the demographic profile of those in attendance and to measure the number of attendees to better measure the impact of this event.

  

 


The third-party company collected the information from a map and boundary of the festival grounds that they determined with Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.  The company also collected data from the weekend following the festival from the determined boundary to include in the data set to compare to a standard three-day period for reference. 


From the data collected during Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s Downtown Days, almost 65,000 people attended the festival. The geofencing company used the criterion “register devices that have remained in the geofenced area for seven or more minutes” to ensure that the data collected was an accurate reflection of event attendance and not simply people driving through the map. Below is a heat map showing where people gathered within the festival grounds once they entered the festival. 

 

 


The map below is a visual reorientation of the data collected based on attendee’s location of origin that shows the Downtown Days event draws people from as far away as Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and Nebraska. St. Louis, Des Moines, and Springfield were three metro areas that also showed a high volume of attendees that originated from there.   Of course, most of the attendees were from the Kansas City metro area. This information will help determine marketing and advertising for the event in future years. 

 

 


The two charts below showed what times garnered the most traffic and how long people stayed within the festival grounds, which was on average 116 minutes.  

 


The data goes on to share demographic and market information for the typical attendee based upon where they are from.  This information provides an insight into the spending habits and purchasing power of this group.  The data dives into median household size, household income, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.  All the information that was provided through this geofencing technical service will provide a guide for Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street to better understand the attendees for their event, help determine future programming and advertising for the event, inform vendors about traffic counts that allow them to stock enough product, and to manage public safety procedures for the crowd size. 


If you are interested in geofencing your Main Street district or festival grounds, please reach out to Keith Winge, Missouri Main Street Connection’s State Community Development Director for more information.  

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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) offers two matching grants to help downtown organizations with their economic development efforts.  The People Energizing Places (PEP) Grant and the Strategic Teams Engaging People (STEP) Grant are a two-year and one-year grants for services, respectively.

 


MMSC is currently working with Sedalia and St. Charles through the PEP Grant.  The City of Sedalia applied and awarded the grant in January of 2021 to start a city-led Main Street program.  City officials had previous experience with Main Street and wanted help forming a local Main Street program that utilized an already established downtown city commission to serve as the leadership team.  MMSC did not have a city-led Main Street program in Missouri but, through the national Main Street network, knew there were successful city-led Main Street programs in other states.  Keith Winge, State Community Development Director, reached out to various Main Street State Coordinators to learn the ins-and-outs of Main Street programs housed within city government.   

 


Nation-wide most Main Street programs are established as non-profit, public benefit organizations designated as 501(c)3 organizations by the Internal Revenue Service.  There are also 501(c)6 membership based Main Street programs and Main Street organizations established as part of city or county government entities.  Each format has pros and cons ranging from the ability to take advantage of grant opportunities and encourage volunteer engagement with the 501(c)3 to the stability of wages and benefits in a city or county program.  The 501(c)6 format serves members and is not eligible for some grants while a city-led program must work harder to get volunteers involved.  MMSC reviewed the pros and cons with the City of Sedalia and they settled on the city-led Main Street format. 

 


Keith Winge began transforming the current Central Business and Cultural District Board into the Main Street leadership Board of Directors.  A community survey and stakeholder input session also took place to gather input on how downtown is used and what the community would like to see downtown with regards to businesses and activities.  This input helped with the formation of Main Street Transformation Strategies, also known as economic strategies, to guide the work of the newly formed Main Street program.  Using that data and feedback, MMSC recommended the Main Street program focus on creating a family friendly and entertainment strategy.  The City of Sedalia’s Main Street committees, will begin planning projects and initiatives that will use the Transformation Strategies as their guide.  Guided work with MMSC through the PEP grant will continue until the end of 2022 to help the City build their Main Street program.

 


St. Charles is a different story in that their downtown district is one of the quintessential downtowns in Missouri.  It has very little vacancy and many thriving downtown businesses, but the district lacked a formal organization to keep those efforts going.  A group of business and property owners got together to apply for the PEP grant for help in creating a Main Street organization to keep the downtown thriving into the future.  In April of 2022 Keith started with a day-long assessment of the current stakeholder groups by gathering feedback on what was and was not working in the district.

 


The group had already established a non-profit, 501(c)3 and Keith began helping them fill the Board of Directors reflecting the various stakeholder groups, diverse skillsets, and demographics representing the community-at-large.  The Main Street principles and philosophy were taught to the new Board of Directors equipping them to lead this new organization.  This new board is now recruiting and forming the Main Street committees.  These committees will brainstorm projects and initiatives, develop action plans, and implement those plans.  This two-year grant is entering its second year with MMSC finalizing the administration of the grant in 2023 where the St. Charles Main Street organization will continue to develop the committees, determine priorities, and continue to build a strong foundation to keep the momentum going in downtown St. Charles for their future.

 


If your Main Street program or downtown are interested in one of MMSC’s matching grant programs, reach out to Keith Winge at kwinge@momainstreet.org or by calling 417-334-3014.

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Main Street America has updated the criteria for accreditation of local Main Street programs. Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has been working with its local programs to ensure they are ready for the official launch of the new accreditation standards in 2024. The national criteria changed from ten standards to only six standards with a consolidation of some criteria and an emphasis on people, collaboration, and impact measurement built into the new criteria. MMSC started introducing the changes two years ago with a self-assessment in 2021 and 2022. An on-site visit took place in August that tested the application of the new criteria which MMSC introduced as a pilot program to test the new criteria in person with Main Street America staff visiting ten Missouri Main Street programs.


Seven Accredited and three Associate tier Missouri Main Street programs were visited during the weeks of August 15 - 22, 2022. While most of the visits were educational and didn’t alter the designation of accreditation, Downtown Joplin Alliance asked to be evaluated for accreditation.


Cape Girardeau, Chillicothe, Excelsior Springs, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Warrensburg, and Washington are currently accredited with Clinton, Independence, and Joplin at the Associate tier, a few steps away from accreditation. 


Each visit to these communities included Norma Rameriz de Miess, Vice-President of Revitalization Services, and Keith Winge, MMSC’s State Community Development Director. The team spent about seven hours with each Main Street program’s leadership, staff, volunteers, partners, and city officials to learn more about the program’s successes and areas for growth or opportunities for advancement. These observations were shared in a presentation to each program’s board of directors and partners to assist in planning and action steps for implementation at the end of the visit. Overall, Norma was impressed with implementation of the new standards reflecting the partnerships and collaboration to make each community’s downtown a vibrant place. Areas that were recommended the most for further development in many of the local programs were related to volunteer engagement, packaging the measured impact of Main Street locally, and partner support efforts.

 

 


Downtown Joplin Alliance was reviewed this year with an eye on accreditation. The local Main Street program has been working to impact downtown Joplin since 1989 with some ups and down through the years. The organization reached out to MMSC in 2017 to help them focus their efforts using the Main Street principles. The board was strengthened and the committees re-energized. Now, vacancy is low, partnerships are strong, and a contract for services secured with the city. Downtown Joplin Alliance’s hard work has paid off as Main Street America and Missouri Main Street bestowed accreditation on the eighth Main Street program is Missouri.


Main Street America will be back in 2024 to assess the Accredited and Associate communities once again in Missouri Main Street tier system, when the new standards will be fully implemented nationwide. This timeline allows local Main Street program and their community to further use the standards in improving their downtown revitalization efforts. MMSC will work with its local programs to provide technical and organizational services that help them make a bigger impact for the various stakeholders within the downtown and community as a whole.

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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) launched St. Louis Main Streets as a pilot program in late 2019 and accepted the first district in February of 2020, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dutchtown was the first district, followed by Laclede’s Landing in August of 2020, and Delmar in June of 2021. Each attended a workshop prior to applying for the pilot program and were selected through a competitive application process. 


Each district reflects the unique qualities of its history, layout, and residents making them very different – Dutchtown is more of a neighborhood commercial district with a large amount of diversity from various backgrounds. Laclede’s Landing is where St. Louis began and the district only encompasses a few blocks with about 50 residents. Delmar is a linear district that is very automobile-centric with Delmar Boulevard and its long history of dividing the district, and even the city, to the north and south.


By the beginning of 2022, each district had formed their non-profit Main Street program with a board of directors and Main Street committees. Through this process, MMSC has helped them assess their district with the various stakeholder groups, gathered information from the residents, provided training on Main Street principles, and recommended Transformation Strategies (priorities) for each district. 

  

 


Dutchtown Main Streets has adopted two Transformation Strategies: serving the neighborhood and entrepreneurship development. Their district has a lot of families and they want activities, businesses, and services for the young and old. With the Neighborhood Innovation Center in the heart of the district, the entrepreneurship strategy made sense to help support those already in the district as well as to help grow small business owners within the district to fill the commercial vacancies and increase building ownership.

   

 


Laclede’s Landing Main Street is considering the strategies of riverfront activation and neighborhood goods and services. Building owners and developers have been working on upper floor housing for a few years because the district wants to be a neighborhood, not just a place to work or visit. To support this housing initiative, the strategy of neighborhood goods and services will cater to those new residents with places to eat, buy groceries, relax in the evening, or stroll with their dogs. The riverfront activation is a strategy to leverage the beautiful and under-utilized Mississippi River area. The Main Street group wants to add event space, both indoors and out, promote a bike rental business, add a marina, and create a river walk.

 

 

 

Delmar Main Street is reviewing their Transformation Strategy recommendations of people-centered places and entrepreneurship & equitable development.  There are several spots along Delmar Boulevard to create people-centered pop-up shops or food truck villages to test the market for future, more permanent businesses.  Delmar Main Street will now consider whether art and placemaking amenities can extend along the boulevard to bring people to the district from the adjacent neighborhoods to support the local businesses. There are already many small business owners in the district and the Main Street program will need to support those early entrepreneurs while attracting and equipping new business owners for success. These are some of the areas of work for the Delmar Main Street group.

 

Future work by MMSC and the St. Louis Main Streets districts will include diving into market and demographic data to help with decisions about retention and recruitment of new businesses, marketing properties for development, and supporting entrepreneurship through a partnership with Main Street America and the Kauffman Foundation.  Stay tuned for future updates on these three districts. 

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The City of Canton, Missouri and the local Main Street program, Canton Main Street, boldly joined forces to enhance their community economically and socially.  Canton is located in the northeast corner of the state on the Mississippi River with a population of 2,455 and is home to Culver-Stockton College.  It is a rural community with farming as one of the main industries, which serves as a port for grain distribution using the river and railroad. 


The local Main Street program began in late 2013 with a group of downtown stakeholders wanting to improve the trajectory of their downtown.  Like many downtowns, Canton saw years of deferred building maintenance, absentee property owners, and increased storefront vacancies.  Other issues were commercial retail space used for storage or part-time or hobby business owners with very limited store hours.  The goal of the small group was to start a Main Street program and turn that situation around. 


Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC), using the Affiliate Grant Program (now called the Community Empowerment Grant), partnered with city officials and district stakeholder to form a not-for-profit Main Street organization using the 40-plus year template of the National Main Street Center to form a board of directors, utilize Main Street ApproachTM committees, and implement projects and initiatives using economic development-based action plans.  This partnership and implementation of the Main Street Approach™ created Canton Main Street. Canton Main Street utilized additional grants and services from MMSC to gather economic and market demographics, provide board training and support, assist in developing a list of priorities, and strengthen stakeholder relationships.  All of these activities lead to the community wanting more.  The leadership in downtown and throughout the city wanted to use the Main Street ApproachTM to provide a focused direction for the future of the entire community.  That is where the idea of a community-wide master plan was born. 

 

 

 

Through a partnership with the City of Canton, Canton Main Street, community stakeholders, and Missouri Main Street, the process of planning began in February of 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic began.  This first meeting set the foundation for the Master Plan by meeting with various stakeholder groups for a larger community input session to gather viewpoints of the current community assets, what the community would like to see in the future, and how the community and downtown can be activated.  The consultants, representing the Main Street comprehensive approach to vibrant community development brought their expertise to the input sessions but also began formulating themes or focus areas.  Main Street calls these focus areas Transformation Strategies which help guide the community development activities from brainstorming to funding to implementation. 

 

 

 

Future visits both virtually and in-person helped to refine these strategies and put more detail to the plan with the outcome being a 96-page document with visuals for potential projects, guidelines of how to implement, and recommendations on potential funding sources.  The report was presented in November of 2021 to a packed house at the new City Hall building.   Wayfinding signs, building renderings, new branding for downtown and the community, and business recruitment tactics were included in the plan and were featured during the presentation. 


Following the adoption of the plan, MMSC checks in with the leadership of Canton on their implementation progress, helps to remove obstacles, or assists with partnerships as the community moves through the timeline of implementation as outlined in the plan.  


 



MMSC provided 60% of the overall costs for the City of Canton Master Plan and the community contributed the remaining 40%.  MMSC provided a team of professionals to lead the community vision and provided the technical resources and trainings throughout the implementation of the plan’s goals and objectives.  If your Main Street community is interested in a community-wide Master Plan, please reach out to 
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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) continues to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishment of over $1 billion in private and public investment in Missouri Main Street districts since 2006, when MMSC started recording this information.  This private and public investment over the past 15 years represents 2,812 improvement projects in Main Street downtown districts that includes building rehabilitations, new buildings constructed, buildings saved, new or renovated parks, updated streetscapes and sewers, and other miscellaneous projects that improved the district for residents, workers, and visitors. 


2020 was a year of projects for the Missouri Main Street network as many communities were affected by the pandemic leading them to not necessarily operate like normal yet still accomplished great things for their district. In fact, 2020 represented the third highest year of investment since 2006 in Missouri’s Main Street districts with a total of over $70.8 million dollars. Main Street communities Washington, Independence, and Marceline completed unique projects in 2020 that illustrate how Missouri’s Main Street programs continue to revitalize their districts through innovative projects, rehabilitations, and new buildings that meet the needs of residents, workers, and visitors.

 


Washington, Missouri

Downtown Washington, Inc. reported $9 million in investments in the downtown Washington district for 2020 making it a very good year of investment in their district.   Part of this $9 million investment was one large and transformative project, the conversion of their old International Shoe Factory into apartments.  This one project represented a large investment in new housing not only for downtown but for the community.  Many rural Missouri communities are in desperate need of more housing options and this project certainly will bring those much needed apartments to Washington.  The extensive rehabilitation added 85 new one- and two-bedroom apartments while keeping many of the architectural features of the old shoe factory which creates very unique living environment for the tenants. 

 


 

The new Shoe Factory Lofts offer high ceilings, exposed beams and brick walls, along with amenities like a fitness room, onsite laundry facilities, dog park, meeting room, and green space.

 


Independence, Missouri

Total public and private investment reported by the Independence Square Association in downtown Independence totaled $183,000.  One of those improvements was a building improvement at 111 North Main Street that included improvements for one of the buildings occupants an established brewery, 3 Trails Brewing, and also created space for a new business.  3 Trails opened their doors in February of 2019 with great success but much of the building was still empty. Therefore, in 2020, the storefronts were reconfigured to make room for additional businesses to open downtown. For communities that have a tight downtown district or have lost a portion of their historic building stock and able to utilize infill; reconfiguring storefronts offers the ability to allocate an existing buildings space in a way that allows for another business to open a storefront. One of those was Flying Horse Flatbreads.  This space was reimagined by adding a commercial kitchen into the new space along with seating.  Flying Horse Flatbreads already had a storefront in Waldo, a commercial district in Kansas City, and has now expanded to Independence bringing its signature flatbread to offer the patrons in March 2020.  Since opening, the Flying Horse Flatbread company has had a symbiotic relationship with 3 Trails as beer patrons now have a food option while enjoying their favorite brew.  

 

 


Marceline, Missouri

Downtown Marceline saw over $476,000 in private and public investment in 2020 representing 25 different and unique projects.  One of those projects was a much needed restaurant downtown.  Noted in the 2018 Community Master Plan created by MMSC, the community residents and visitors wanted more restaurant choices in Marceline and downtown had several vacant buildings that would be ideal locations for a new food choice.  Los Chimas took over a space at 112 North Main Street USA in 2020 bringing not only a new restaurant but a new food type to the community.  The renovated space included a new kitchen, bar, restaurant, and COVID friendly to-go pick up window.  The community is excited about this new business and has supported it from day one.


These and the 388 other projects, rehabilitations, and new buildings in Missouri’s Main Street districts had a huge impact during COVID.  Not only were there over $70 million in investment but 151 new businesses started with 83 businesses closing or relocating outside the Main Street district resulting in 68 net new businesses started.  These new businesses resulted in 311 net new jobs created in 2020.  This number is not the largest in the past decade but beats the 10-year average of 252 net new jobs created. 


2020 will go down in the history books as one to remember for the pandemic but here at Missouri Main Street; we will mark it as the year our Main Street communities surpassed $1 billion in investment in their districts.

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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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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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