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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.



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Blog Home > Archive (May, 2022)

This year’s Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference is taking place in Kansas City, Missouri! At conference you will find new ideas for making places meaningful and working with your community to become a place that everyone can call home as well as attend amazing events to both inspire you and recognize communities across Missouri for the revitalization they have accomplished.


Tour of Downtown Kansas City

Wednesday, August 3, 20221:00 pm to 4:00 pm

This walking tour starts in the Kansas City Marriott Downtown lobby with attendees meeting at 12:45 pm with their tickets. You will explore the great places throughout downtown Kansas City experiencing an uptick in growth.  We will take advantage of the streetcar and then walk a short distance to some of the impressive projects we will see. All of the projects will be examples of adaptive re-use projects that have created both commercial and residential space rejuvenating the area. There are a number of Historic Tax Credit projects that we will see—and we may even get a sweet treat on the way! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Tickets available, until sold out, online ($20) until July 25 and onsite at the conference registration office.



Guided Scavenger Hunt with Prizes through Downtown Kansas City

Wednesday, August 3, 20221:00 pm to 4:00 pm;

This adventurous tour starts in Kansas City Marriott Downtown lobby with attendees meeting at 12:45 pm with their tickets. You will explore the unique sites and architecture that make downtown Kansas City one of a kind. Using the streetcar, attendees will explore historic and cultural sites while making a game of the tour to see who can find the most sites or architectural features within the time allowed. The group will stop off at several areas along the streetcar route to allow participants to explore and find clues while learning about Kansas City’s history. Prizes will be awarded in several categories and will be announced soon.

Tickets available, until sold out, online ($20) until July 25 and onsite at the conference registration office.

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Ben White »

Is the weather finally getting warmer!? With the warmth and change in season, now is the time for building owners to address potential needs that may have come up from the cold temperatures and the natural freeze and thaw cycle of winter. This is also the time to check for plants and weeds that may be growing near the foundation of a building that can cause major damage. Be intentional as these small maintenance measures can prevent future building problems.


Check masonry for loose bricks and mortar. (15 min)

Examine windows for broken glass or putty failure. (15 min)

Remove any temporary caulk (from winter), and permanently fix the wood gaps with an epoxy or wood consolidant. (1 hour plus set time)

Inspect any metal or cast iron for components of rust; scrape and paint with rust inhibiting paint. (1 hour)

Examine any painted surface for paint failure. For example the cornice, windows, trim, and storefront. (30 min) Repaint if needed. (2-3 hours)

Remove plants growing on or close to walls or foundations. (30 min)d storefront) (30 min) Repaint if needed. (2-3 hours)

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The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities. One of the recipients, Clinton Main Street, recently received their final deliverables. Clinton Main Street was awarded the Downtown Strong grant in 2021, which included two services that their Executive Director and Board of Directors identified as opportunities for the organization to enhance their capacity to serve their district and its business owners.


Clinton Main Street was able to turn the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic into an opportunity to better connect with their businesses one-on-one.  This approach of intentional engagement with business owners in the downtown district during a time of economic uncertainty helped Clinton Main Street better understand their businesses and their needs. In addition, they were able to form a clear picture of the real strengths, opportunities, and areas where their organization needed help.  

The first service they received from the grant assisted them with their need for a robust building and business inventory. These two inventories would allow Clinton Main Street to better identify and document information about the businesses and properties in their district. Using the information gathered for these inventories allows for an accurate understanding of the district and easy accessibility to develop a recruitment plan that would seek businesses that fit their specific gaps. Jim Thompson, Downtown Economic Development Specialist from Iowa, was the consulting expert that worked with them and gave them the tools to do just that. Jim first conducted an on-site walking tour, then gave a presentation to staff, board, and volunteers that provided information and data specific to their community. On top of the presentation, he helped Clinton Main Street understand their market and learn new processes. When he left, they had the information needed to build their recruitment plan, more knowledge about how to use information, where to get information, and how to build and maintain a useful and relevant building and business inventory. Jim said of the district, “Clinton is an interesting example of quality downtown development opportunities.”



Example (above): The downtown map was originally provided as a proof to Downtown Waterloo by Jim Thompson and Main Street Iowa.


The second service that concluded their grant was the development of a Service Business Engagement Plan that would accomplish the goal of reaching the large number of service businesses in their district. Clinton Main Street worked with Dana Thomas, of BOLD Marketing, to develop this Service Business Engagement Plan. After an on-site visit, Dana worked with Clinton Main Street to identify strategies to better communicate the value proposition of Main Street as well as ways to better engage with service businesses specifically. These tactics included opportunities driven both by Main Street and by the businesses themselves. BOLD also identified ways for Main Street to assist the businesses through various trainings and support specific to the service industry, as well as trainings and support for all businesses in the district. In addition, BOLD provided creative graphic email assets to assist Clinton Main Street further in engaging their businesses.





Tina Williams, Clinton Main Street Director, says “The Downtown Strong Grant gave our organization the opportunity to assess what we needed and put plans in place to achieve those goals. We recognized we wanted better relationships with our service businesses but had no clue where to start. Working with Dana at BOLD was wonderful because she did background research to identify our needs, and gave us a clear plan to follow with lots of talking points, ideas, and data. Using this we can potentially bridge the gap and turn naysayers into our best defenders and assets! We have gone from clueless to informed, prepared, and ready in such a short time; we could not have achieved that on our own!”



The services included 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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The Main Street Now national conference and Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference are two yearly opportunities for downtown communities to get inspired and connect with other communities. Conference attendance is highly encouraged for local Main Street organizations that have an agreement with Missouri Main Street Connection. Attendance counts towards the required yearly training attendance and is an opportunity to collaborate with other programs to discover new ideas. Attending a conference is a fantastic way to learn about the time-tested downtown revitalization tactics and many other topics. Downtown Washington Inc. is a local program that has implemented a policy with their board member contracts requiring attendance to at least one training a year. This is a great way to ensure that your board continues to learn about the developing Main Street trends and topics.

Housing development has been a feature at both national and state conferences. This topic captivated and inspired a Downtown Washington, Inc. board member to bring new ideas and plans back to his community. Andy Unerstall of Unerstall Construction shared this about his experience in traveling to Chicago for Main Street Now National Conference in 2009:

               “When I went to Chicago I had a development idea that I was considering starting but did not have a clear idea of how it should be implemented. As I toured the housing project that was featured as part of the Main Street Now Conference, I gathered the information and inspiration needed to complete the plans for the housing development that would enhance downtown Washington and bring more residents downtown.”


Andy’s housing development includes more than 50 units from townhomes ranging from 2,200 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft. to flats as well as commercial spaces. These properties are located along the downtown riverfront and in downtown providing something for every lifestyle.

With new housing comes new residents, which boasts great economic benefit for downtown by filling restaurants and attracting new businesses to fill vacancies. Alongside the economic boom, there is also the cultural aspect of the urban life where you feel part of the community, making connections with new people is easy as you see them walking downtown daily. Since the development started, over 60 new residents have been welcomed into the downtown Washington area. One of the first residents of this development was Bryan Bogue. Bryan commented on why he chose to move downtown:

               “I went on a day trip during one of the Main Street Now Conferences. I was enticed by urban style living because it was healthier due to the walkability and great living situation. Once Andy started his project I let him know I wanted live in one of his properties. I was already involved in a lot of things going on downtown, like Downtown Washington Inc., so it made sense to move downtown to be closer to everything.”

Bryan’s story mirrors many others across the country who, after the pandemic, are looking at ways to have more connected lives with each other and the places where they live. Moving downtown offers a walkable lifestyle, allowing people to commute with their feet rather than by car. Following Bryan’s move downtown he opened a wine bar saying, “I wanted to be a part of the success.” With the increased foot traffic from having more people living downtown, a rich environment was created that made the development of new storefronts and filling existing properties feasible. Main Street is economic development connecting people with the resources, tools, and ideas to increase the tax base of a district and impacting entrepreneurs, residents, and visitors. Bryan’s wine bar opened as Oak & Front Wine Bar and Tasting Room. Bryan commented that “half of the members of the wine bar live downtown and often walk down to see us.” What an amazing life to be able to live, work, and play downtown.


Downtowns are always changing by adapting over time to provide the community needs while retaining the memories and history within the walls of the buildings. The addition of Andy’s development indicates a new era for Downtown Washington. Tyler King, Executive Director of Downtown Washington Inc., stated, “With the completion of Andy’s development it completed the downtown and improved our ‘place’. He did a great job at matching the design of his development with the historic red brick of our downtown.”

Missouri Main Street Connection invites you to come to Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in August to experience the collaboration, the connections, and the inspiration that many like Andy, Bryan, and Tyler have experienced for themselves. You might be inspired to start a development project of overcoming a long-standing preservation challenge from what you learn in the educational sessions and from other attendees. 

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The strength and capacity of a Main Street organization to cultivate success in their downtown rests on its volunteers from the board of directors to committees to event volunteers. These volunteers are the lifeblood of Main Street. Having a strong and diverse volunteer base creates the perfect recipe for creative ideas to solve complex preservation problems. A variety of people with the skills, experience, character, and connections lends strength to the organization. Grant opportunities from Missouri Main Street Connection, other non- profits, and government entities often require demonstration of strong organization capacity to implement the project, amenity, service, or other idea. Spending time recruiting, investing, and appreciating volunteers is a major component to ensure that Main Streets can demonstrate their strength to receive funding to implement downtown revitalization. 

In appreciation for his volunteer work, Clinton Main Street has nominated Allen Huff for ‘I Spy…Great Work”. This nomination enters Allen into the running for Volunteer of the Year at the 2022 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in August. The nomination was submitted by Tina Williams, Executive Director from Clinton Main Street:

“Allen Huff has served on our board and as head of our design committee for several years. He is considered our downtown preservation expert, and is never afraid to jump in to help with any project. He led our Design committee through the improvements to JC Smith Park, and even climbed ladders and helped stretch the shades. We consider Allen a great asset to Clinton Main Street and the Downtown!”

Allen is not the only one volunteering in Clinton Main Street. Clinton Main Street reported 1,174 hours of volunteer time in 2021 equating to $31,944.54, a huge community investment in downtown!

Missouri Main Street Connection recognizes the time and sacrifices it takes to volunteer time at a nonprofit. Alongside our local Main Street programs, we thank everyone who has volunteered with Main Street. Although 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 in the future by the local Main Street program or Missouri Main Street Connection.


If you want to find resources on how to recruit, train, and recognize your volunteers, look through our resource directory which is open to MMSC investors. Not an investor? Email Staci at staci@momainstreet.org to find out how.

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