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

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



Missouri Main Street Blog Section

Blog Home > Archive (February, 2022)

After an exciting award for her renovation of the 104 S. Main Street building in Clinton, Missouri, Sarah Goth owner of The Bluebird Mercantile continues to exemplify the Main Street Approach™ for her community highlighting the importance of investing in their own community. Let’s go back to 2019 Clinton Main Street and Sarah Goth of The Bluebird Mercantile won the ‘Best Façade Rehabilitation, under $10,000’ award. Tina Williams the current Executive Director of Clinton Main Street shares the feelings and thoughts of the former Executive Director and board members in an interview with MMSC saying,

               “When it was announced Sarah, the owner, didn’t believe it. It was a wonderful thing for Clinton. Since our community is on the small side, we don’t expect that kind of recognition. It was nice to have this be recognized and shared with all the other Missouri communities.”

Winning this award was reinvigorating and acted as a catalyst for Clinton as it showed through hard work what could be done by its own property owners and businesses. Sarah and Tina shared that many on the east side of the Clinton Square have come to Sarah for advice on ways to save and learn from her experience in rehabilitating her building from the knob and tube wiring to restoring the shelving units and ceiling. There is so much to know about rehabilitating an old building and that is just what Sarah loves to share with her community. Her own experience provides her fellow business owners with a deeper understanding of what it takes and how to make it happen on a budget.

We would be remise if we did not highlight the touching story of how The Bluebird Mercantile got its start, as Main Street businesses don’t get their charm just from their old building, but the history and significance to its owner and community. Sarah has always dreamed of owning her own business since she was little and would say that what she wanted to do when she grew up was to own a retail store. Then, her father planted the seed for what kind of retail business she wanted to open after listening to what he would say about his wishes for Clinton, “My dad who was an economic developer in Clinton always wanted somewhere he could take people to get locally made Missouri products and products from the Clinton area that would highlight what Clinton has to offer.” The location she envisioned was 104 S. Main Street as it was once home to Simes Shoe Store, which her childhood neighbor owned, and had many fond memories of running up the loft stairs to pick up her shoes. With the location and type of business she wanted to open, the name came natural to Sarah, “The Bluebird Mercantile,” getting its name from the Missouri state bird that is featured on some of her Missouri products. The Bluebird Mercantile has become one of the quintessential places in downtown Clinton as it offers Main Street patrons a variety of things to discover.

Sarah’s story truly is why Main Street is important. Missouri Main Street sees Sarah as an amazing success story and uses this in spreading Main Street to more communities so that alongside local efforts we can continue to empower business owners to make a difference in their community, protect places that have memories for the community, and support the development of Missouri Main Streets as economic hearts of their community welcoming a diverse mix of businesses.

If you haven’t already watched the 1 Billion highlight of Sarah Goth and Tina Williams check out that video here: https://youtu.be/kz1IJ1GbhzM.

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Ben White »

The National Register for Historic Places contains many amazing places that have historical and/or architectural significance that can aid communities in pursuing revitalization. Some examples include the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historic District, the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs, and the Joplin YMCA building. The National Register of Historic Places is a list honoring districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that meet the criteria of significance. The significance falls into several categories, but the predominant ones are location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association to a specific era, person, and event within the past 50 years. You can learn more about these criteria by reading National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. 


The National Register designation of districts and landmarks is a valuable tool in the preservation tool belt. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what this designation means.  


First, the government can’t tell you what to do when renovating your building. This designation does not prohibit work from occurring on the interior or exterior of the building and the government will not be able to claim you violated a law. The designation does provide the guidelines for renovations to follow through the Secretary of Interior’s Standards in order to retain the historic significance of the building that qualifies it for designation and what makes it attractive to heritage travelers. Therefore, in following the established guidelines you are able to have a greater return on investment on your renovation through the economic benefits it provides, especially when it comes to heritage tourism.


Second, you don’t have to allow public access to your property. If you are listing your residence, for instance, this does not open your property to give visitors free reign to step on your property for a tour. Property rights laws still apply, providing that security.  However, it means that there is formal recognition of the property’s historical and/or architectural significance.  


Many heritage travelers look for these designated historic places in which to visit and spend money, so going through the formal designation process is important to attract these kinds of people. Heritage travelers have been shown to spend 2.5 times more than ordinary travelers when visiting communities. In addition, it opens up the property for potential preservation incentives including state and federal grants and tax credits for rehabilitation. This helps drive down the cost of renovation and redevelopment and strengthens the building’s standing in the community. 


To learn more about the process of listing a building or historic district on the National Register of Historic places, visit the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office here: https://mostateparks.com/page/85341/national-register-historic-places  

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Cape Girardeau, Missouri sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and is the home of over 300 downtown businesses and 4500 downtown residents. It has one of the largest Main Street districts in the nation encompassing 130 blocks and was a 2015 recipient of the Great American Main Street Award through the National Main Street Center. Receiving a Great American Main Street Award is a distinguished honor of recognition for Main Street programs that have demonstrated exceptional use of the Main Street Approach™ and have a strong organizational capacity spurring community transformation and historic preservation, all of which is true for Old Town Cape. Cape Girardeau is truly an amazing place!



Cape Girardeau continues to develop, seeing more business and more people, as Old Town Cape, the Accredited Main Street Organization for Cape Girardeau, and other community partners work together towards a strong, vibrant, and diverse community. Old Town Cape viewed the Downtown Strong grant as a great opportunity to strategically focus their organizational capacity and to flesh out plans to address some ongoing community concerns around crime, homelessness, and safety. After having success in aiding development downtown through initiatives and partnerships that have brought projects downtown increasing the number of jobs and businesses and developing the streetscape of downtown, they wanted to use the grant to make the downtown environment even more conducive to growth.

These community concerns affect especially the local citizens’ view of downtown and Old Town Cape wanted to address the issue head-on. They are receiving assistance through the Downtown Strong Grant to develop an Amenities Plan to address community concerns, help create a more positive attitude toward downtown by locals and visitors alike, and create a more welcoming and safer environment.

After a two-day site visit, fact-finding, and interviews with key community and downtown stakeholders, Jay Schlinsog of Downtown Professionals Network assisted in the development of a two-pronged plan, looking at specific policies that can impact and manage homelessness, crime, and the environment by addressing lighting, activities, storefronts, and litter. Through the development of this strategic plan, Old Town Cape has been able to engage with additional partners, learn more about local services, and be more aware of the situation. Now that they are in the initial steps of implementing components of the plan, there are countless possibilities of how Cape Girardeau will begin to tackle the concerns of its community.

To impact some lighting concerns, the police are using a newly acquired lighting trailer to temporarily illuminate dark areas of a parking lot. The Old Town Cape Board held one of their recent meetings at the newly renovated home of a local social service agency downtown that addresses homelessness issues. The Board gained first-hand insight on the homelessness issues and ways to make an impact. Along with developing a strong partnership with an organization that can help in constructive and restorative ways, they are learning tips they can pass on to businesses as well.



Old Town Cape, through the Downtown Strong Grant, is working to foster a safer and more welcoming environment that in turn will promote even more growth, and allow them to better serve their community.


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

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We have calculated the numbers of the Downtown Strong grant, which are impressive. However, the important takeaway in the end is the impact. Good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of the Downtown Strong Grant program to see this impact in small businesses in Missouri communities.


Let’s look at The Rail 1868 Restaurant & Tavern in Lebanon, a new restaurant that received a Downtown Strong grant. They had purchased their historic building in March of 2019 and started remodeling shortly afterwards. They got through most of the challenges of working on an old building and set their opening for March of 2020. But then COVID happened, delaying their progress a year. They opened their doors after that delay and have been going non-stop.


But this delay of their opening by a year facilitated a change in their plan. The leadership team of Chris, Nicole, and Ronda had a combined 50 years of restaurant experience in the industry and developed what they felt was a solid plan.  They needed help making sure their plan was still on track and needed help refocusing on some of their business processes in order to become the best version of their vision. They wanted to set some goals but wanted to be realistic about what they were trying to accomplish. They wanted help to make sure they were marketing themselves appropriately. So, they asked for help through the Downtown Strong Grant with their business processes and marketing.


The process is still on-going, but the initial parts of the process were extremely beneficial. Nicole said, “We have had our first initial meeting with Vicky of Cygnet Strategies and that meeting went great. We gained some wonderful insights into the directions we could go in increasing our revenue centers, expanding our customer base, and even missed opportunities to take advantage of our strengths. We also were able to breathe a sigh of relief when she agreed with our vision and mission for our business as a whole! Just hearing we are on the right path gave us a little pep in our step.” 


Vicky said, “Ronda, Nicole, and Chris are a stellar example of how harnessing the power of family, working to your strengths, and being skilled enough to jump in and help wherever you’re needed drives sustainability when managing a restaurant. They were open to new ideas to deal with their challenges and were eager to start implementing right away.”


Finalizing each service will insure the maximum benefit for sure but let’s not ignore the good along the way!


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

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