Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) visited Missouri’s state capital, Jefferson City, on January 24th with local Main Street program executive directors, board members, and city officials for the annual “Power of Main Street.” This annual visit to the capitol is a time where state legislators hear what is happening in their congressional district as local Main Street programs share the impact they are having in their downtowns and their revitalization success through the Main Street Approach™.
As our Board President Bob Lewis says, “The world belongs to those who show up,” and that is exactly what Missouri’s Main Streets did. Over 30 delegates from across the state arrived in Jefferson City to meet with their state legislators and pass out educational materials about the “Power of Main Street.” This day of educational advocacy is important for the over 50 Main Street programs in Missouri as it helps legislators understand the impact these programs have at the local level with business and job recruitment and retention, resiliency through the pandemic, and private and public investment in their district.
Warrensburg Main Street got the prize for the earliest meeting with a legislator as they started in the morning meeting with Representative Dan Houx, Representative Rodger Reedy, and Senator Rick Brattin with MMSC staff Keith Winge. Jill commented;
“We love having the opportunity to talk with our [legislators] about the benefits of having Main Street communities throughout Missouri. We also did a little bragging on the many successes Downtown Warrensburg has seen over the past few years thanks to the resources our state agency provides to us.”
Over the past five years, Warrensburg Main Street worked to provide resources for online networking, online training, grant resources, and digital promotions to their small businesses during the unprecedented time.
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Jamie DeBacker(Warrensburg Main Street), Jill Purvis (Warrensburg Main Street), Representative Rodger Reedy, and Keith Winger (MMSC).
One of the early afternoon meetings was between Downtown Joplin Alliance (DJA) and Senator Jill Carter. Lori Haun and Lindsay Gagnon shared with the Senator the many accomplishments the DJA achieved over the past five years despite the economic turmoil including 75 new businesses, more than 60 apartment units in beautifully renovated historic buildings, the opening of the Cornell Complex, and expanding their Empire Market. They also talked about current ongoing projects like the restoration of the Olivia building and the work they are starting with the Union Depot, including upcoming input sessions. Senator Jill Carter expressed her interest in coming to the input session for the Depot and, if her schedule allows, will drop in. Without these in-person meetings with legislators these personal invites and connections couldn’t be made which will continue to support the success going on in Joplin and across the state in other Main Street districts.
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Katelyn Brotherton (MMSC), Lindsay Gagnon (Downtown Joplin Alliance), Senator Jill Carter, and Lori Haun (Downtown Joplin Alliance).
Some of our local Main Street programs have personal connections with their legislators so their meetings are more casual but still informative on the impact and importance of the Main Street Approach™ in the success of downtowns across Missouri. Alyssa Sanders with Smithville Main Street is very familiar with her representative, Representative Josh Hurlburt who is in touch with what is going on in Smithville through Smithville Main Street.
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Alyssa Sanders (Smithville Main Street) and Representative Josh Hurlbert.
Another strong relationship between Main Street program and legislator is found with Downtown Washington Inc. and newly elected Representative Kyle Marquart. Tyler King and Downtown Washington had a strong relationship with Kyle Marquart as a local Washington citizen. Not every community member will eventually become an elected official at the state level, or even city level, but it is through the grass-roots efforts of the Main Street Approach™ that relationships and connection with community members will lead local Main Street organizations to successful preservation-based economic development. That is why forming relationships with your community at every level including local community member, city official, state official, and beyond is so important as you never know how the connections you form with people will impact the work your organization can accomplish in revitalizing your downtown and forging a bright future.
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Cassidy Desmond (Downtown Washington), Representative Kyle Marquart, and Tyler King (Downtown Washington).
Each meeting with state legislators is as unique as each community and its representatives are different from another. That is why it is important to visit with state legislators and get to know them and most importantly let them get to know you and your organization. The delegates from Pacific Partnership, which included Sam Dean, Amanda Nemeth, Erik Goebel, and Christine Slusser, got to know Senator Ben Brown more as they found a picture in his office of his kids at BIGFOOT 4X4 which is a destination in Pacific, Missouri.
Pictured Above: Senator Ben Brown.
Several Main Street communities are within the same congressional district and share legislators so they visited with them together. Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization and Old Town Cape met with Senator Holly Thompson Rehder, Chillicothe Main Street, Brookfield Main Street, and Downtown Marceline Foundation met with Senator Rusty Black, and Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc, Fayette Main Street, and Smithville Main Street met with Senator Denny Hoskins. Each of these local programs are at different levels within Missouri Main Street Connection but all share the desire to continue to improve implementing preservation-based downtown revitalization and see their downtowns grow and were able to share how Main Street is making a large impact in their legislator’s districts.
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Gayla Roten (MMSC), Janna Clifton (Uptown Jackson), Senator Holly Thompson Rehder, Dr. Steven Hoffman (Old Town Cape & MMSC), and Bob Lewis (MMSC).
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Bob Lewis (MMSC), Michael Olinger (Downtown Marceline), Senator Rusty Black, Tomie Walker (Chillicothe Main Street), Dave Tavres (Downtown Marceline), Gayla Roten (MMSC), and Cheyenne Graff (Brookfield Main Street).
Pictured Above: (Left to Right) Keith Winge (MMSC), Danelle O'Connell (Historic Downtown Liberty), Senator Denny Hoskins, Deanna Cooper (Fayette Main Street), Corinna Lucas (Historic Downtown Liberty), Alyssa Sanders (Smithville Main Street), and Bill Emmons (MMSC).
Despite the uncertainty of the incoming winter weather, just like how Main Street thrived during the economic turmoil from the pandemic, “The Power of Main Street” Capitol Day was a success. Our staff heard many good things from the legislators as we accompanied the local Main Street program delegates.