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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 (September, 2022)

Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities 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 projects will add heritage tourism to the economies in each community. The Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant was awarded to recipients in March of 2022. Communities started on 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. Upon receiving the grant, the City of Sedalia got started right away on their project which is a mural reflecting Sedalia’s rich railroad history.


Pictured above: Back row left to right:Building owners Julie and Harry Hoffert, Muralist Stefanie Aziere-Sattler, and Robert Hayden and his daughter Cathy van der Linden. Front row: Third Ward City Councilman Lucas Richardson

Sedalia’s commercial historic district has been around since the late 1800’s with several buildings constructed prior to 1883. This gives Downtown Sedalia a rich past that draws many visitors annually. Joleigh Cornine, the director of the city-led Main Street program, shares that, “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic freezing Sedalia's cultural and heritage tourism in its place… the Historic Katy Depot welcomed 12,079 visitors.” With the number of visitors to the Historic Katy Depot declining 70% in 2020 as well as many area events and activities being canceled, the negative economic impact the pandemic had on Sedalia is illustrated with a loss of $110,335 in tourism revenue each year (2019-2020). Coming out of the pandemic, a City Comprehensive Plan was put together that outlined goals to position Sedalia as a safe, attractive place to work, live, visit, and celebrate special occasions. Part of this plan was dedicated to, “providing outside sources of entertainment where people feel they can safely socially distance.” This approach capitalizes on the country-wide cultural refocus on places that matter utilizing place-making, historic buildings, and showcasing artwork as a viable economic tool. By purposefully showcasing different aspects of Sedalia’s history through a series of murals which start with the mural between 209 and 211 S. Ohio Avenue and encourages guests to travel from one art installation to another. Guests can discover unique historic buildings and businesses while connecting with visual stories about Sedalia’s commercial historic district. 


Implementing this comprehensive plan, like any plan, requires funding.  Sedalia leveraged $5,000 from MMSC with public and private partnerships which enabled them to increase the size of the mural to be a 30’ x 20’. Stefani Azier-Sattler was commissioned to paint the mural on the Smith & Cotton Building based on her previous work in Sedalia including a mural on the Wildflower Beauty Co. building. The mural that was commissioned for the south side of the Smith & Cotton Building includes depictions of a steam train representing Sedalia's rich railroad history, the Smith & Cotton Building as it looked back in the days when it still boasted all of its original architectural glory, a P40 "Flying Tiger", and the B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber for the city’s connections with Whiteman Air Force Base. This project represents part of the first alley activation and was accomplished in stages by community members, business owners, partnerships, and city officials.



Pictured Above: Lift provided by Matt Mergen State Farm

Pictured Below: Integrity Soft Wash workers.



Julie and Harry Hoffert, owners of Stone Laser Imaging, granted the City of Sedalia use of the south side of their building, the Smith & Cotton Building, to be the home for the new mural. Integrity Soft Wash prepped and cleaned the mural wall with a low-pressure system as a gift-in-kind donation. The alley was closed off by the City of Sedalia with stone barricades at both ends to make sure that Stefani Aziere-Sattler and those working on the mural were able to do so safely. Martin Security Systems LLC has provided service to the City of Sedalia for Stone Laser Imaging's surveillance system for this area to ensure guest feel protected while in this space. The system will also address safety concerns that downtown residents and merchants had expressed to the city. Other improvements planned include better lighting and paving to increase pedestrian's safety as this alley is used as a conduit between public parking and area businesses.


As the progress on the mural was nearing completion, Sedalia promoted the businesses surrounding the mural through a “Businesses Around the Smith & Cotton Building Mural” promotional series. Among the businesses promoted through this series are The Pavilion by Frunell Companies which is home to twenty programed public events and open to be rented by patrons; Wilken Music which is home to the Scott Joplin Mural; RAKS Escape Room; and The Venue, LLC. These businesses will be impacted by increased foot traffic as people come to visit the new mural and then explore downtown. The plan to use Sedalia’s heritage to create entertainment opportunities centered around the arts as an economic tool for Sedalia and will bring even more visitors into its historic commercial district than before the pandemic.


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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Ben White »

Regular building maintenance is a crucial, yet easily forgotten, task for building owners. However, deferred maintenance can lead to more expensive, time-consuming measures in the future. It is better to head off any problems in the present than to deal with a larger headache in the future that could greatly impact not only the property owner, but also possibly even affect the business paying rent in the building.


Strategically budgeting for repairs is the first step a property owner should take to maintain their property. Repairs, whether planned for or not, will always happen. Building owners should consider developing a replacement schedule for items such as roof replacement, paint touch-up, window caulking, and more. Knowing when certain projects will need to be addressed helps to budget and get ahead of the problem before it even begins. For instance, a new roof is rated for 15 years. Building owners should budget to replace that roof in about 15 years to avoid issues like water damage that will harm the building further and cause additional, costly fixes. Other projects can include foundation repairs, leaking windows/replacement, and pest damage.


Building owners also benefit from emphasizing quality building maintenance and repairs and avoiding cheap fixes cutting corners. Cheap fixes generally equate to a Band-Aid being on the problem that may or may not actually solve the underlying issue. For example, repointing brick with mortar that will actually hurt the integrity of the brick can cause expensive, unforeseen problems. Building owners should take the time to either look at the problem or have a trained professional with historic building experience identify the issue so that a plan of action can be set into motion for the longevity of the building.


Deferred maintenance or repairs can also negatively affect the business owner that is paying rent in the building. Main Street America studies and findings published in, “An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Physical Improvements on Retail Sales” by Brenda Spencer show that customers are more willing to step foot in and pay money to a business located in a building that is more visually appealing than a building that appears to be rundown and neglected. For the business to make money and pay rent, they need to be located in a building that is maintained and inviting to the public.  


Be on the lookout for the next One-Pager from the Historic Preservation Committee on building maintenance best practices. To see the other completed one-pagers on “Shading Downtown: Awnings and Canopies”, “Masonry 101”, and “Painting 101: Historic Buildings”, please visit the Main Street blog and Main Street Resource Library.

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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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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. These communities have been receiving technical assistance through services and trainings that deliver economic development strategies, resources, and final products that strengthen businesses and local Main Street organizations negatively impacted by the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Historic Independence Square in Independence, Missouri is home to Corporate Copy Print who has serviced countless clients for their communication needs over the past 27+ years. Prior to 2020, the owner of Corporate Copy Print had been planning on a succession plan for a while. No matter the size or age of a company, transitions can be rough. Corporate Copy Print is an anchor business for the local economy. It was important to get the succession of its owners correct for the longevity of the business and the health of the local economy. The planning was good and the timing was right for the retirement of the founding owner, yet leadership was struggling with identifying the best way to achieve the transition.



Then, in March 2020, Corporate Copy Print experienced a devastating blow. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Corporate Copy Print went from a booming print shop with a staff of twelve to a ghost town of two within ten short days.  Despite the company’s increased productivity through investment in equipment, streamlining of processes, and their long-time emphasis on diversification, the damage was done by the pandemic shutdowns and slowed economy. As time passed and companies were able to resume business in limited capacity with safety measures in place, business picked up again and, along with the Payroll Protection Plan, the business was able to call back most of their staff.


The owner of Corporate Copy Print saw the opportunity in the Downtown Strong Grant to work with professionals to address their top needs and help them recover from the punch of 2020. They needed help with a transition plan and, realizing that social media is key, help with a social media plan and engagement. To address the needs of the company, they were connected with two consultants, one to help with the transition and one to address their social media marketing needs.


MarksNelson worked with Corporate Copy Print to analyze their business and provide clarifying direction for their succession plans that had been in place. The plan had been to transition ownership to an employee that had been working in the business for over five years, but there were a lot of considerations and they needed a little guidance. Owner Tom Waters remarked that the information provided by MarksNelson really helped with their transition which is now in process.


Pictured above left to right: New owners Jeff McLaughlin and Emily Penrose McLaughlin and previous owners Tom Waters and Susan Waters.

On the social media side, Mysamaris worked with Corporate Copy Print on developing a plan to increase their engagement. They knew this was a key area of marketing they needed to focus on. Reaching their current and potential clients with engaging and consistent messaging was an identified struggle. Mysamaris guided them through the process of developing a plan, a calendar, and budget suggestions along with tips on implementation that would engage their clients in a way that would set them apart from their competitors by reflecting their desired brand identity of being lighthearted and fun.


The Downtown Strong Grant helped Corporate Copy Print through a transition process that businesses don’t always survive.  Tom noted that assistance through the Downtown Strong Grant “could help the next owner keep this Main Street business viable for another 27 years.” Transferring the ownership from the long-time owner to an employee took a strategic, deliberate, and well-timed plan. Corporate Copy Print and its owners not only made it through the transition, but are thriving on the other side!


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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