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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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Logan Breer

Attendees of this year’s conference know just how powerful THEY and each individual in Missouri’s Main Street communities are when it comes to making a positive community impact. Representatives from communities of all sizes across Missouri attended the 2023 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in St. Louis where they discovered the power of People-Centered Revitalization. See what a fantastic time attendees had while learning about the Main Street Approach™, which is the framework people can use to empower transformation and successful change in a downtown district’s physical, social, economic, and civic components.



This year we started the conference even bigger than ever. Wednesday, July 26th was packed with things to do for early arrivers before the kick-off evening event and opening assembly the next day. While local program directors and their support staff took part in their monthly directors meeting and semiannual support staff meeting, other attendees embarked on one of two different concurrent educational tours. The “Makers and Shaker in Delmar Main Street District” took attendees on an exploration of Delmar Boulevard, within the Delmar Main Street district, where there is a vibrant mix of makers as well as collaborative spaces, like Maxine Clark’s Delmar Divine, that houses dozens of non-profits together to forge partnerships to move St. Louis forward.



The “Food Entrepreneurs are Shaking Up the Food Industry” tour took attendees on a munching tour to both Dutchtown Main Streets and the Soulard Farmers Market in the Soulard Historic District where they learned about each districts food entrepreneur ecosystems while enjoying select offerings from current residents of the spaces.




There were two special sessions attendees could attend on Wednesday. The first being the Deep Dive with guest speakers from the Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Block Grant (CDBG) and Iowa Main Street shared about the new Downtown Revitalization fund through MO DED’s CDBG and how Iowa’s Main Streets have utilized their own CDBG funds since Missouri modeled this new opportunity after Iowa’ s program.




The second special session was an invite only session sponsored by St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC). During this session attendees got to hear from each of the three St. Louis Main Streets programs that MMSC has worked with over the past few years and the success they have had in organizing together to make an impact on their communities. If you want to learn more about the success of the St. Louis Main Streets programs Dutchtown Main Streets, Laclede’s Landing, and Delmar Main Street, check out this article (Sharing Successes from the Three Districts in the Pilot St. Louis Main Streets Program).




As always, the Evening Opening Reception is a fun kick-off party and 2023 was no different. On top of being in a cool location, Ballpark Village’s Crown Room, attendees were getting to know other attendees at the event they may not have known before by playing bingo. Some of the items on their bingo cards included: has completed Route 66, has visited Disneyland Paris, has public art in their downtown, has attended over 5 MMSC conference, and many more. After getting their competitive spirit fix, you could see groups of people across the venue eating appetizers and networking together.




The conference officially started on Thursday, July 27th with the opening assembly which was crafted by our staff to embody our theme of “People-Centered Revitalization”. During our Welcome and Opening Assembly several Main Street programs highlighted the success they have had working together with their community and volunteers. Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Albany, and the St. Louis Main Streets districts Delmar, Dutchtown, and Laclede’s Landing presented how it was the people of their community who were the catalysts to boost the economy while also putting community vision in action. At the end of the assembly, Maxine Clark held a special heart ceremony to recognize the Main Street Directors who were present at the conference.




Following the Welcome and Opening Assembly attendees were able to start learning from a multitude of other speakers about various topics. This year our staff selected the tracts of Physical, Social, Economic, Civic, Historic Preservation, Foundational, and Urban for the offered sessions.

Some of the attendees were clear about which sessions were their favorites with the reviews we have received so far. The “Main Streets Role in Addressing Social and Economic Challenges” was one session that stood out as we heard all the little nuggets people were able to take away from the speaker including: the 13 touchpoints for trust, the Main Street organization’s ability to have influence over developers, nuanced views on equity, and adapting the Main Street Approach™ to address the realities and challenges of our community.




Additionally, high remarks were given to “Microenterprise Financing for Downtown Development”, “Bitesize Placemaking”, “Successful Event Planning and then Measuring their Impact”, and “Beg, Borrow, and Steal”. People took away so much from these sessions with our favorites being “be proud of your existing downtown and be proud as it grows even better.”




Once again, the ShowMe Bash & Pitch Party were a blast. Attendees brought the excitement of the conference to Armory STL to see great pitches for the Creative Space Activation Grant. Five communities were looking to win the $10,000 Creative Space Activation Grant and presented their projects to the judges made up of MMSC board members. Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. walked away as the winner with $10,000 for their project. Their application and following pitch at the event highlighted the great need for the project in their district and the strong support they have.




Missouri Main Street Connection always ends conference with an elegant finale. Following the sessions and Closing Assembly on Friday, July 28th, the Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony & Dinner was held at the Archview Ballroom at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. This is always a special evening at our conference where MMSC presents awards to communities, businesses, Main Street programs, and individuals to commemorate and honor their commitment to their district as well as the achievements of Main Street revitalization. Once more there was something extra special about some of the award recipients.



Check out the Press Release section on our website to see all the awards MMSC awarded during the Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony. One presentation was a surprise to everyone in attendance. Diane Hannah, MMSC’s Special Programs Coordinator, received gifts from MMSC’s staff and board members for her years of service to MMSC and Missouri’s Main Streets for her retirement.




As communities departed the conference, they took with them the knowledge and connections they gained to their communities to share with others. Kristine Molloy from My Hometown Carrollton commented to our staff after conference, “I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed my first Main Street Conference! It was amazing and very well organized. I am looking forward to getting a group from My Hometown Carrollton to attend next summer.”



As we take all the feedback provided by the session surveys and overall conference survey, we continue to make our conference better each year for each attendee. MMSC is excited to see you in Kansas City in 2024!

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Volunteers are the lifeblood of Main Street. From the board of directors to committees to event volunteers, each community member that volunteers in Main Street is a rockstar! Not only are they coming together to revitalize their downtown, reinvigorate their community, and cultivate a place to live, work, and play, they are making an economic impact! Volunteers make a significant economic impact in their community through the donation of their time and skill. The Independent Sector values volunteer time in Missouri at $31.80 per hour (as of June 2023). The ‘I Spy… Great Work’ nominees are entered into the running for Volunteer of the Year award at the 2023 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference.

Ashland Betterment Coalition in Ashland, MO has nominated Debbie Mudd for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Ashland was submitted by Brittney Harty on their board:

“Debbie has been an integral part of Ashland Betterment Coalition! She is one of our ex-officio board members who has built vital relationships with our local businesses. The relationships she has begun building have helped our group’s growth significantly. Debbie takes time out of her weeks to interview local business owners and highlights them on our social media pages, which gives them something in return. In six months, our social media pages have grown with Facebook now having 500 followers and reaching 30.2k people and our Instagram now having 223 followers. Our pages are now known in town as the place to go to get a complete picture of what’s happening locally on the weekends. She came up with a series dubbed ‘Round About Ashland’ playing off the roundabouts that replaced some of our busy four-way stops. From the series to the highlights, she has given our local businesses and community members a reason to pay attention to us. We truly wouldn’t be where we are today and wouldn’t be able to continue to grow without her volunteer efforts!”

Old Town Cape, Inc. in Cape Girardeau, MO has nominated Danny Essner for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Old Town Cape was submitted by Andrea Hamm on their board’s behalf:


 “For over a decade, Danny has been involved in making a difference in Cape Girardeau. This is true for many community events in Cape Girardeau and especially true for Old Town Cape’s Cape Riverfront Market. In early 2022, our staff began the long, arduous process of adding a new storage shed to the Cape Riverfront Market parking lot. There were hurdles and struggles that stalled progress such as the city permitting process, finding a reliable manufacturing company to make the shed, and working with a local engineer on the structural drawings all of which Danny Essner stepped in and volunteered to see the project to completion nearly a year later.

At each step, Danny took ownership, made the connections, got approval, and provided continued maintenance. The shed was installed in the front of the market lot in early 2023 utilizing the additional volunteers Danny recruited and tools that he owns for the tough installation process. In fact, three different saw blades broke while cutting into the asphalt to set the anchors. Having the shed at the front of the market lot makes event set up and tear down much more convenient for Old Town Cape staff and volunteers who no longer have to haul everything across the lot and back each Saturday morning.

Danny wanted to add more flair to the shed so that it looked like a cute English cottage to welcome everyone to the Cape Riverfront Market and used money from his own pocket to purchase and install hundreds of dollars worth of decorative windows, window boxes, planters, plants, and gutters to beautify the shed.

Danny is already known as a hardworking and reliable volunteer, but he went above and beyond with the Cape Riverfront Market shed project. He singlehandedly took on the shed project from design to installation, donating countless hours. Because of Danny Essner’s perseverance and altruism, the Cape Riverfront Market has significantly been enhanced.”


Pictured Above: Danny Essner, Old Town Cape Staff, and Old Town Cape volunteers. Photo provided by Old Town Cape.


Chillicothe Main Street in Chillicothe, MO has nominated Chuck Erke for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Chillicothe Main Street was submitted by Tomie Walker on their board’s behalf:


“Chuck is no stranger to Main Street Chillicothe with volunteering at nearly every Main Street event pouring wine, cleaning up, hanging ornaments, and entering data. His involvement with Main Street Chillicothe can not be understated as he held the Organization Committee together during the Covid pandemic; serves as our Organization Chair; has been asked to join the Board of Directors; has walked through most of our downtown noting business and address changes for our directory listing; and recently attended his first Main Street Now national conference in Boston—I could not think of a better volunteer to soak up the experience and ask all the questions. He is an all-around great guy that we are so fortunate to have on our team as he happily gets things done in Chillicothe for Main Street and various other organizations that compete for his time. Fortunately, he has recently retired from his day job, so there is more of him to go around. He is active in the Chamber of Commerce with innovative ideas for small business incubation, can wrap several trees with a thousand lights in Simpson Park from a man lift for the holiday Festival of Lights, serves on the annual Chautauqua in the Park committee, and is always willing to lend a helping hand wherever needed. He has a true volunteer spirit and is the downtown champion that you wish you could clone.”


Pictured Above: Chuck Erke, Main Street Chillicothe staff, and Main Street Chillicothe volunteers. Photo provided by Main Street Chillicothe.


Downtown Excelsior Partnership in Excelsior Springs, MO has nominated Carol Baxter for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Downtown Excelsior Partnership was submitted by Melinda Mehaffy on their board:


“Carol has been a long-term supporter, cheerleader, and volunteer for our downtown. During the summer months, you can find her out as early as 5:00 am watering flowers in our parks and our streetscape, she attends and volunteers at all of the Downtown Excelsior Partnership events. Carol embodies "giving of her time, talents and treasures" and is an important volunteer in our downtown and in our community. She speaks out about the value of downtown and is always pushing forward all the good our downtown has done.”


Pictured Above: Carol Baxter and Lyndsey Baxter of Downtown Excelsior Partnership. Photo provided by Downtown Excelsior Partnership.


Fayette Main Street in Fayette, MO has nominated Frank Flaspohler for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Fayette Main Street was submitted by Cara Owings on their board’s behalf:


“Frank helped create the Fayette Festival of Lights for Fayette Main Street, a wonderful new attraction added to our downtown area for the holidays, and spent many, many hours leading the efforts to install 10,000+ Christmas lights and the software program to create a light show on the courthouse building. The Fayette Festival of Lights was a light show synchronized to music that ran every night for 2-3 hours in December. Frank's vision, leadership, and volunteer hours contributed to the success of the event. The lights are a tremendous new attraction for our downtown, which drew more than three thousand people to the kickoff celebration on December 3rd; hundreds more from neighboring towns around Mid-Missouri throughout the month; and there was great media coverage with radio personalities present. The light show was talked about for weeks with many saying the light show and activities around the square were like stepping into a Hallmark movie and people cannot wait until the light show again in 2023. Without Frank this wouldn't have been successful.”


Pictured Above: Frank Flaspohler. Photo provided by Fayette Main Street.


Glasgow Main Street in Glasgow, MO has nominated Kimberly Reckner for ‘I Spy… Great Work’. The nomination from Glasgow Main Street was submitted by Nikki Gouge on their board:


“Kimberly has been a great addition to Glasgow Main Street. The list of her contributions to our community is astonishing, from building our website and driving tour to streamlining our event ticket sales, grant writing, and providing legal advice. She is constantly doing research on our town and finding new ways to promote it. She is an asset to our organization and to our community.”


 Pictured Above: Kimberly Reckner. Photo provided by Glasgow Main Street.


These nominees are not the only people volunteering in Missouri as there was a total of 9,712 volunteer hours reported in 2023 equating to $308,841.60, a huge community investment in downtowns across the state!


Missouri Main Street Connection recognizes the time it takes and sacrifices made of volunteer hours at a nonprofit and alongside our local Main Street programs and thank everyone who has volunteered with Main Street. Though I Spy Great Work is currently closed, if you see individuals in your community that are completing great work, contact your local Main Street program and recommend them to be highlighted by the local Main Street program or Missouri Main Street Connection in the future. 

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In 2023, Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference is calling St. Louis home. The city of St. Louis is at the core of St. Louis’s sprawling metropolitan county that stretches out to include dozens of municipalities and cities like Kirkwood, University City, Ferguson, and Sappington. This city has a complex history just like many places across the state and nation, but its complex past is not holding back people from pushing forward for change and accomplishing great things. This is part of the inspiration behind this year’s theme, “People-Centered Revitalization.”

There are three St. Louis historic commercial district currently participating in the St. Louis Main Streets program piloted by Missouri Main Street Connection over the past few years. Each of these unique districts has their own challenges, but also their own strengthens and opportunities. When you come to St. Louis to learn from our keynote speakers and other speakers, don’t miss the opportunity to enrich what you are learning in the session rooms with some self-guided excursions into St. Louis.




Pictured Above: Dutchtown Main Streets.

The historic commercial center of Dutchtown originates where Meramec Street crosses Virginia Avenue. Anchored to the east by the towering spires of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and to the west by the Bavarian-styled Feasting Fox (under renovation and reopening next year), Downtown Dutchtown’s small-scale, mixed-use historic architecture creates an environment that balances urban density alongside a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere. With the help of partnerships, Dutchtown Main Streets has reactivated the largest park in their neighborhood, the Marquette Park, and installed new murals on Meramec Street. Dutchtown Main Streets and the Dutchtown neighborhood warmly welcome you to visit “a neighborhood that bears the weight of our city’s past and stands tall in the truth of who we are today. We are full of people who have experienced growth, contraction, and growth again. We are 
Dutchtown Proud.”



Picture Above: Dutchtown Main Streets 


Today, Downtown Dutchtown is home to many places you need to visit while in St. Louis to shop, eat, and learn about niche businesses, concept spaces, and more including: several eclectic boutiques and resale shops, creative services, a halal grocer, and a couple of unique concept spaces: The Wink and Urban Eats. The Wink is a retail incubator allowing small, local makers and sellers to try their hand at the brick-and-mortar business. Urban Eats provides a similar ecosystem for aspiring restauranteurs, with both shared kitchen space and vendor spaces encircling a shared dining area. 



Pictured Above: Urban Eats in Dutchtown. 

Additionally, you can stop grab a bite to eat at Tacos La Jefa that brought the birria craze, All Rolled Up who makes unique egg roll creations in both sweet and savory forms, Beignet All Day with a St. Louis twist to the popular New Orleans Treat, Original Crusoe’s who has been serving up classic comfort food to the neighborhood for over 40 years, and Marie’s Snack Shack with expertly grilled St. Louis-style barbecue.  There’s a lot to love about Dutchtown, with its rich history and promising future. MMSC hopes you explore this neighborhood, meet the neighbors, and learn what makes them “Dutchtown Proud!”


Laclede’s Landing



Pictured Above: Laclede's Landing 

This tiny neighborhood is tucked between two bridges, a highway, and a river, but the residents, business owners, and other stakeholders are not letting their challenges overshadow their amazing opportunities: being the only Saint Louis neighborhood and commercial district on the Mississippi River, having beautiful building stock, and the St. Louis Gateway Arch National Park on the other side of Eads Bridge. The Laclede’s Landing Main Street Board of Directors invites you to plan on coming to Laclede’s Landing for an excursion during your time in St. Louis for Missouri’s Premier Downtown Conference. Download this Tour Guide created by Laclede’s Landing Main Street and the Missouri Historical Society. This guide will take you to points of interest in the district, provide historical insight to the significance of the architecture and the district’s role in Missouri’s history, and areas to dine.



Additionally, there is a “Lunch on the Landing” happening at the Katherine Ward Burg Garden every Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm with food trucks, live music, and community (Download the invite card here). Laclede’s Landing is a short and safe walk—under one mile—from our conference hotel, the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark.  You can walk north across Market Street to Kiener Plaza Park then west past the old courthouse crossing over the pedestrian land bridge and greenspace to access and walk through the Arch grounds.





Pictured Above: Delmar Main Street 

This nine mile, East-West boulevard and commercial corridor with a complex past stretches through the city from Vandeventer to N Price Rd. Over the past few years, Delmar Boulevard is coming full circle on the unity behind how the street originally got its name, which according to records found in the History of St. Louis Neighborhoods was the result of two landowners, one from Delaware and one from Maryland, living on opposite sides of the road who combined their estate names (Norbury L. Wayman, 1980, Digitally accessed from www.stlouis-mo.gov). Delmar Main Street is working through their second year as champions to “identify and remedy causes of racial and economic inequality, reduce gentrification, and create opportunities for people of color and women” as community members from both sides of Delmar Boulevard are coming together to “Reimagine Delmar” as united through Delmar Main Street.


Pictured Above: Delmar Main Street 

The Delmar Main Street Board of Directors invites you to come see ‘Delmar UNITED’ while grabbing a bite to eat, shop local businesses, and see the changes that has happened. Two local restaurants you will want to visit are Brew Tulum Specialty Coffee Experience that serves a wide variety of handcrafted Mexican meals, specialty coffee, & desserts and Deli Divine that serves Jewish American food as a Jewish Deli and a full market.


Pictured Above: Deli Divine in Delmar.

These three districts have utilized the Main Street Approach™ over the past few years to do amazing things, but they are not the only places where there are people doing great work. We can also learn from districts like Kirkwood and North Grand who are examples of both thriving and developing districts in St. Louis.

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Sending people to a conference can be a big investment when you consider the hotel, travel, and conference registration costs, especially when sending multiple people. While the cost of this investment may look big upfront, there is a huge return on investment for communities of any size through the energization of volunteers and staff and the generation of new ideas and connections to make local Main Street efforts more fruitful. For Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference hosted in St. Louis in 2023, communities have many potential opportunities available to them to help reduce the price of attending conference.

Missouri Main Street Connection Scholarships

Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) recognizes that for some programs the investment of coming to the conference can be a barrier, that is why we work with partners to offer scholarships to select communities where our missions overlap. If your community has an agreement with MMSC, keep an eye out for communications coming from our staff about scholarships that we have available for you. Another opportunity to communities that have reached the Accredited and Associate levels in MMSC’s tier system is a free scholarship to support the work they are doing and to reward their implementation of the Main Street Approach™. This is a big perk for rallying support in programs just starting for their benefits from MMSC that come in through execution of the Main Street Approach™.


Local Partners

Looking inside your community is another place you can find funding to cover conference registration costs, sometimes in surprising places. Organizations and companies that have supported Main Streets in the past include local service clubs like: Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and Kiwanis Clubs; Local Banks; utility companies; and the Chamber of Commerce. Reaching out to make that initial connection is sometimes all it takes, though it is the simplest but often most intimidating step. We hope the words of MMSC’s State Director Gayla Roten, who was the local director of the Branson Main Street program before becoming the State Director of MMSC, always says, “We don’t have because we don’t ask” can inspire you. Take these words of encouragement and start a conversation by setting aside the fear of potential rejections.

Another MMSC staff member who has experience in securing funding during their time as a local director is Keith Winge, currently MMSC’S State Community Development Director. When Keith was on staff as the Executive Director of Downtown Excelsior Partnership (DEP) roughly a decade ago, he partnered with the Rotary Club of Excelsior Springs to help send himself to the state conference. Keith Winge recalled,

“MMSC shared a list of places where Main Street programs could potentially find money and the Rotary was on the list which would have never crossed my mind in the first place. I reached out to a Rotarian with information about how attending the Conference would help me develop as a Main Street professional and grow DEP’s positive impact on our community and they were in.”


There are many options open to your local Main Street program to discover funding that can assist in helping community members attend conference, you just have to know where to look and not be afraid to ask. Missouri Main Street Connection has created a sample letter and flyer that you can use to start these conversations with potential partners in your community.

Download the Sample Letter Here.

Download the Scholarship Flyer Here.

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The Main Street Approach™ is a singular mission achieved through four points, six criteria, and countless focuses like a rope made up of many strands. Two criteria that show how celebrating a community’s heritage and traditions through displaying it in public spaces is baked into Main Street’s methodology as found in the new standards of Main Street America’s evaluation framework are “Preservation-based Economic Development & Broad-based Community Commitment to Revitalization” (Main Street America, Accessed May 18, 2023). Community, revitalization, and preservation are the three words found in these two criteria that distinguish Main Street from other economic development or revitalization efforts yet does not make local Main Street programs who utilize the Main Street Approach™ too unique to partner with other organizations and companies.


Downtown Monroe City Revitalization (DTMC), which is the local Main Street program for Monroe City, MO, is a perfect example of how to partner with another organization where there is mission overlap. They have partnered with their region’s association of REALTORS®, which is the Mark Twain Association of RELATORS® (MTAR). Debbie Kendrick, who is on the board of Downtown Monroe City as well as a REALTOR®, shared about the collaboration between the two groups which funded their “Rail & Ponies” mural by Ray Harvey of RayHarveyArt, “Both organizations are looking to have a lasting impact in communities by turning spaces into places. We used the overlap in our missions, including ‘community is the focus’ and ‘growth minded’, to our advantage and so should you” (NAR, Accessed May 18, 2023). The mural project was completed and formally dedicated on December 3, 2022 during DTMC’s Christmas Street Stroll event.



MTAR is also collaborating with Canton, MO for engineering drawings for a veteran’s memorial for their community. While MTAR serves their region in Missouri, Debbie Kendrick told us that every region in Missouri has a board of REALTORS® and encourages other local Main Street programs to get connected to their region’s association of REALTORS® for funding opportunities such as Smart Growth, placemaking and/or alley activation grants. She recommends the following steps if you are not currently connected with them:

  1. Reach out to and establish a relationship with a REALTOR® champion, this is a REALTOR® who is involved in community development and growth.
  2. Ask the REALTOR® champion to contact a local board of REALTORS® representative.
  3. Submit to your local board of REALTORS® the project you wish for them to apply to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The last bit of advice from Debbie is to make sure you review the criteria of the grant you are applying for to maximize your chances. If you would like to learn more about how to partner with REALTORS® come to St. Louis July 26 – 28 to hear Debbie Kendrick and Amanda Nemeth speak. You can register online at www.momainstreetconferece.com.

This article was prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) using, in part, the generous donations of Heritage Circle donors to support and provide an example of a community’s successful partnership focused on celebrating by displaying their heritage. If you would like to support MMSC so they can continue to provide resources, trainings, and services to Missouri’s communities to continue to preserve memories, celebrate local history, promote community values, create new memories, and embrace traditions, donate today at www.momainstreet.org/Heritage-Circle/

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through ARPA in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 communities selected through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These heritage tourism projects gave added value to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlighting each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to Clinton Main Street in March of 2022 with completion of the project in October of 2022.



Clinton Main Street is the Main Street organization for Clinton, Missouri. Clinton is the County Seat for Henry County making it another Main Street that is a county seat. Their Courthouse Square is also a part of their district, making it the heart of the surrounding area holding significant history in its buildings.

The Board and staff of Clinton Main Street worked with local student, writer, and photographer to create a walking tour that invites visitors to engage with their local history when they are downtown through the Marketing and Heritage Cultural Tourism Grant. The tour is housed on their website with a Google Maps-based interactive map that provides information on the numerous cultural tourism landmarks that are in Clinton’s downtown. Visitors can scan QR codes that are located on nine buildings and five historic structures to view Clinton’s history and photos of how the building used to look as well as view a map to other locations downtown.



During your time in Clinton participating in this walking tour you can visit and learn more about structures like the Human Alliance Fountain, 9-11 Memorial, and They Stood Tall Memorial and buildings like the Delozier Building, Anheuser Busch building, and Clinton Candle Company building.



Clinton Main Street has big ambitions as they are already dreaming big on how they can incorporate more of their downtown in this new online insightful experience about the history of Clinton through more buildings.


Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Missouri Main Street Connection is hosting the 2023 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in St. Louis. This year the atmosphere MMSC welcomes you into is focused on People-Centered Revitalization which is community vision in action. From the educational sessions to the tours and events, attendees can expect to see how they themselves, from communities of all sizes are the catalyst to create partnerships, build community, foster entrepreneurs, and boost the local economy while preserving and promoting the culture of their district and downtown. It is the people who are the power behind Main Street. By utilizing action plans and the Main Street framework people transform their community’s vision into implementation that addresses current and future needs.


At the conference, you will see familiar terms as MMSC leans into the foundation of the Main Street Approach™. Sessions will explore the guiding principles of each of the four points which are respectively rooted in the economic, civic, physical, and social characteristics of each Main Street district. The Main Street Approach sets the model for local Main Street programs to utilize the four points in committees that accelerate change through empowering community stakeholders to work collaboratively for a collective impact on the community.


Pictured Above: Downtown Lee’s Summit Board

You will find that it is impossible for Main Street to work on its own, for it is all about partnerships. There are countless stakeholders and relationships that are vital to the sustainability of a Main Street program and success of its initiatives. During the conversations you have at the conference lean into how to prioritize people and relationships. Who needs to be engaged you may ask? We say everyone should be engaged whether they come to your table and provide input, or the Main Street programs staff, board, or committee goes to their table. Though there is only 24-hours in a day, there are ways to build connections with stakeholders first through trust and then a shared problem or common goal.


Pictured Above: Cape Girardeau

The goal of Main Street isn’t to have a thriving downtown in and of itself, but to nurture the revitalization and creation of an equitable, sustainable, healthy, resilient, and vibrant community whose heart and core is a Main Street that provides spaces to shop, work, live, and play. As we have learned in recent years, people make the place. It is all about a balance between a communities rich, unique, and often complex history which informs its present and people. Main Street programs can leverage their approach and expertise to transform and build a community which listens to residents’ voices in implementing ideas.


Pictured Above: Small Business in Independence, MO.

MMSC invites attendees to embrace the power that people hold as drivers of their respective local economy in roles that range from small business owners, entrepreneurs, or generational business owners to patrons, volunteers, visitors, or residents. Everyone plays a role in today’s society to impact their local community.

Missouri Main Street Connection is excited about how a People-Centered Revitalization mindset can inform and impact local Main Street program’s implementation of the Main Street Approach™. We hope you will join us to learn from fantastic speakers and our entire Main Street network in St. Louis.

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Missouri Main Street Connection staff and several board members visited Boston for the 2023 Main Street Now conference. This annual conference is a time where local Main Street programs from across the country, and sometimes international guests, convene to hear other local Main Street directors, consultants, and stakeholders present educational sessions on new initiatives to implement the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize local Main Street districts and their economies. This year Main Street America delivered a fantastic conference by curating brilliant speakers to learn from. There were many great ideas and new perspectives that Missouri Main Street Connection is bringing back with them.


Pictured above left to right: Michael Wagler, Iowa Main Street; Laura Krizov, Michigan Main Street Center; Darrel Young, Main Street America; Gayla Roten, Missouri Main Street Connection.


Our State Coordinator, Gayla Roten, alongside Michigan Main Street Center’s State Coordinator, Laura Krizov, were recognized for their multiple terms of service on the Coordinator Leadership Council. The award was presented by Michael Wagler, Iowa Main Street, and Darrel Young, Main Street America.

The MMSC staff, board, and volunteers attended incredible sessions that enabled them to better serve Missouri’s Main Street communities. They had major takeaways from attending conference that they want to share with you.

Gayla Roten

As the state Main Street program, we are continually educating our local Main Street programs about the importance of the roles and responsibilities of a Main Street Board of Directors. We give examples of the benefit of a working board over a governing board and why a working board is vital to the success of the Main Street organization.

I am delighted to share that the Missouri Main Street Board of Directors are an amazing working board. They just don’t talk about it, but they are leading by example. They have made a substantial commitment to Missouri Main Street network communities and districts we serve every day.

This is shown through their unwavering dedication, we had four of our board members and one Advisory member attend the Main Street Now conference in Boston and three of these members also attended two training days prior to the conference with the State Coordinators around the United States. This gave them real-time exposure to the Main Street movement around the nation, each of them learned new best practices and received new insight in community revitalization. Our Board President Bob Lewis, Vice-President Chris Johnston, Immediate Past President Steven Hoffman, Board Member Russ Volmert, and Advisory Member Erika Hagan attended alongside the Missouri Main Street team.

I am so thankful for such a dedicated Missouri Main Street Board of Directors that’s leading a National-recognized Main Street organization into the future for Missouri.

Logan Breer – The Endless Opportunity for All on Main Street to Live Life to the Fullest

In abundance or scarcity, it is about the people and their mindset fixed on what is possible that determines the outcome rather than what has happened in the past. Conference was full of examples of innovation, overcoming adversity, activities, and excitement which showed that local Main Street programs are making an impact on the vibrancy of their districts and surrounding communities including everyone. I saw implementation in the activation of an empty lot left by fire through temporary programming that brought young and old, singles and families. As well as excitement from what Main Street Sweetwater, TN shared about their 2017 solar eclipse experience, with approximately 50,000k visitors, in preparation for the 2024 solar eclipse in which the path of totality travels over Cape Girardeau, MO.

Keith Winge

The thing I most like about attending the Main Street Now conferences is the diversity of sessions and topics. I can always find something that is a new trend, it could be a session on a basic principle as a refresher, or a new idea related to that principle. In fact, my problem is there are usually 2-3 sessions that I am interested in that are taking place at the same time. The conference always fills my mind...and heart...with ideas for the upcoming year.


Pictured above: Area in Boston taken by MMSC Staff during their exploration of the city.


Ben White

The Main Street Now Conference is such a great opportunity to learn from professionals with diverse experiences and backgrounds. These sessions and conversations enable local programs and Missouri Main Street Connection to bring back resources for continued economic development in Missouri communities. The energy from this conference truly is contagious and is such a great opportunity to network with other programs across the nation. Boston, with its storied, historic past, provided the perfect backdrop for these conservations, and I am already excited to go again in Alabama in 2024!

Katelyn Brotherton

The Main Street Now conference is such a rewarding experience to see so many states and local communities take the same concept – the Main Street Approach™ - and apply it so uniquely and effectively to their individual circumstances and needs. The Main Street Approach™ can be tailored to fit any situation and need. Learning from each other is the true beauty of the Main Street network and having the opportunity to do so on a national scale is so exciting and inspiring. I always try to seek out sessions that highlight the work done in communities in other states just to be able to hear what they are doing and how they are accomplishing it to help bring those ideas back to Missouri for our programs. In addition to the sessions, the conference is invaluable for the time it allows us to spend with like-minded people who are also dedicated to implementing Main Street, which this year was over 1900 people! Connecting with new faces across the country, but also having dedicated time to learn with our attendees from Missouri, is so worthwhile.


Pictured above left to right: Bob Lewis and Gayla Roten volunteering as Downtown Experts at Main Street America’s Dr. Downtown booth for Main Street Now attendees to get professional advice.


Pictured above front to back: Dr. Steven Hoffman, Russ Volmert, Chris Johnston, Janet Hlavacek, and Bob Lewis at Cheers for MMSC’s state dinner.


Chris Johnston

As Vice-President of MMSC, I got the opportunity to travel to Boston with the staff, attend informative conference sessions, and make new friends. As part of conference, Main Street America offers tours that allow you to explore the surrounding history and see the amazing architecture. I had an amazing time with Main Street friends on the Freedom Trail.

Steven Hoffman

Each year I am inspired by the work of so many people in communities across the country who devote themselves to making their communities better. Watching the GAMSA awards is particularly emotional for me, seeing communities transformed and improved while remembering when I walked across the stage in Atlanta when Cape Girardeau won the award. It is so rewarding to see the results of the work people are doing in their communities, and it invigorates me to know that collectively we are making a positive change in the world. Each year I am also impressed with the collaborative spirit that everyone has, willing to share ideas and help one another succeed. Sitting in the coordinators meetings and seeing the respect and admiration other coordinators have for the Missouri program makes me so proud of our Missouri team and what we are able to accomplish working together in community.

Pictured above: Margaret Waterman at the Big Bash hosted at the New England Aquarium.


Margaret Waterman

My big takeaway is the power of passion and the commitment to positive change, which I witnessed among attendees, speakers, and even exhibitors, and the steps people took to cultivate relationship (Missouri at Cheers!).  I was especially moved by artist Janell Nelson of the Englewood Arts Collective, Chicago. Her session "Engaging Community through Visual Communication" illustrated her group’s passion for “values-aligned projects with purpose”.  She talked about using many elements of graphic design and branding to “cultivate joy” and engage residents in designing and making a new gateway mural to their South Side neighborhood.   She and the project were inspirational to my work on the Design Committee at Old Town Cape!

Conferences are great places to learn new things from other attendees, the location of the conference, and the speakers. Missouri Main Street Connection thanks Main Street America for hosting Main Street Now annually for our staff, board, and local communities to learn and gather inspiration. If you missed attending Main Street Now in 2023 you can join Missouri Main Street Connection in St. Louis in July for the Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference to experience conference while you wait for next year to go to Birmingham, Alabama for the 2024 Main Street Now conference.

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through ARPA in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 communities selected through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These heritage tourism projects gave added value to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in March 2022 with completion of the project in October 2022.


The Vienna Chamber of Commerce is currently participating in the Community Empowerment Grant (CEG) program. Through the CEG program they are working with Ben White, Missouri Main Street Connection’s Senior Program Specialist, to develop a Main Street program that serves their community through adapting the Chamber into a Main Street program for Vienna, Missouri. Vienna is a small village almost smack dab in the middle of the state, south of Jefferson City, sitting next to the Gasconade River. They consider themselves to be in the “Heart of Missouri” as they are surrounded by rich, lush Missouri foliage. As for heritage and culture, Vienna falls into the same category as many Missouri small towns whose community is interconnected to the outdoors which means their history, heritage, and culture that they promote and identify with, is both outdoors and indoors. Their Main Street district provides the indoor activity with small-town charm where you can shop “Quite corner [shops]” and eat your fill, and their outdoors is the many opportunities for you to become an explorer and uncover the treasures of Missouri’s land and the Gasconade River.


 Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

The Vienna Chamber of Commerce used the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Grant to implement phase one of their three phase plan to attract tourists to return to Vienna after the pandemic affected their tourism. They developed a “Plan Your Trip” virtual experience on their website (Visit Vienna) and created a Tourism Guide that highlights the places to eat, shop, stay, and play in Vienna and its surrounding area. They achieved this by working with their businesses through commercial branding photography sessions by Katie Crum, which were used for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce’s project as well as by the business itself (Vienna’s Plan).



In the digital world we live in, a hybrid approach to communication is the best route; where you feature your information in an accessible way to digital nomads as well as strategically use printed materials to capture those who prefer the tactile experience. Therefore, printed tourism materials are a very important promotional tool that allow a wide range of people to learn about your community that may not have their digital algorithm attuned to you specifically, but their driving habits put them in the right place at the right time. Vienna took advantage of that. Their tourism guide can be found in Vienna’s Welcome Center, the local area businesses, as well as tourism centers and gas stations across the state. As for digital content, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce composed a video commercial, featuring the photos and videos their photographer captured. It is featured on their website and promoted as an ad on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram as well as on a television at the Welcome Center.



Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

The promotional efforts of Vienna’s places to eat, shop, stay, and play are still going on. Maybe you have seen them already! Check out what they put together and book a stay to see what their community has to offer (Visit Vienna). They have seasonal events that are great experiences of what makes Vienna special such as the Vienna Sausage & Wine Festival in the Spring.



Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through ARPA in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 communities selected through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These heritage tourism projects gave added value to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to Cameron Main Street in March of 2022 with completion of the project in October of 2022.

Cameron Main Street is the Main Street program for Cameron, Missouri, located in the northwest part of the state on the outskirts of the Kansas City Metropolitan area. Cameron is a community of just over 8,000 people as of 2020, whose cultural tourism attractions revolve around the downtown commercial district’s reason for existing, the railroad. The City of Cameron was founded by the railroads, the main form of long-distance transportation back in the day, with many fascinating railroad stories from those early days of Cameron. 

Cameron Main Street was the lead organization in a group of three nonprofit organizations, including the Cameron Historical Society and Cameron Municipal Band, that leveraged funding from Missouri Main Street Connection’s Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism grant to create programing on Thursdays throughout the summer of 2022 in underutilized areas of their downtown—including the Historic Depot Museum, two public parks, and the downtown buildings themselves—to reignite people’s interest in Cameron, Missouri. Gina Reed said they “[created] a day-long tour of history, music, and shopping that keeps money at home and doesn’t take much gas.” A guided tour of the Historic Depot Museum and a self-guided tour of the downtown using a brochure created by Cameron Main Street members took place on the 10 Thursdays throughout the summer during the free 10-concert series performed by the Cameron Municipal Band. The activities were promoted by Cameron Main Street for people to plan day trips to Cameron. These activities tapped into and shared the local traditions, history, and heritage that make Cameron a great place to visit.




The first thing visitors could do in 2022’s Summer Thursday’s was the guided tour of the Historic Depot Museum. Here docent Susan Smith gave visitors a look at artifacts and memorabilia of Cameron’s past as a railroad town including a genuine train whistle, the restored ticket booth and waiting room, and other objects which was the first-time seeing train memorabilia for several young visitors. Gina commented that one of the big draws they were trying to market was the “huge romance of the American railroad system that can be felt even today, decades after the last train rolled through town,” which visitors could participate in by viewing and waving from the platform at the two train cars that are located on the original railroad bed.

The self-guided tour of downtown shared the fantastic architectural features of the buildings in downtown Cameron such as detailed brickwork, plasterwork, moldings, woodwork, hardwood floors, and glass showcase windows with visitors. From the intricate brickwork on 120-year-old buildings in the original business district on Third Street, the original Cameron Hotel, and the huge tree at the corner of Third and Cherry planted in honor of the railroad employees who died while on duty moving passengers and freight around the nation, the self-guided tour was designed to show off the artistry of work from the past decades and the community in hope of cultivating an appreciation for these things in the new generation so they would find it worth saving.



The free 10-concert series was performed by the Cameron Municipal Band. They have a long history with Cameron and performing in the town square, McCorkle Park. How long of a history you ask? Just a 150-year tradition, that’s all! They are known throughout the area for their popular Patriotic concert and their Heritage concert as well. They even had free ice cream which was a nice cold treat for visitors to beat the summer heat.

Gina Reed reflects on those evenings following the festivities of the tours and concert as watching “tired but satisfied tourists [walking] east on Third Street, lit by Victorian-style streetlights, back to their cars or perhaps to their homes.” Cameron was built on the grid system so it’s very walkable town despite being founded in 1855. With the success of the efforts of Cameron Main Street, locals and visitors got to experience the convergence of the past and present. The downtown district served its original purpose, like it did for those in the past, as patrons enjoyed being out and about while enjoying life. Gina reminisces, “[The] streets are lined with houses with front porches, and if you listen closely, you can hear spoons clinking in tall glasses of sweet tea, and neighbors greeting passers-by.  In some ways, Cameron is a typical small town, but in many ways, it is the BEST small town.

Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

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