We love historic downtowns!

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

Public and Private INVESTMENT


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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 (March, 2023)
Ben White »

Campbell Main Street has been a Main Street program for just over 2 years. In that time, they have been in the Community Empowerment Grant program, a competitively selected grant for services that assist in establishing a locally empowered organization focused on downtown development through adopted strategies, developed from community input. In that time, the organization has been successful in creating new events and projects that have reinvigorated the downtown area and brought the community together.  

To further these early efforts, Missouri Main Street Connection and Campbell Main Street partnered together to elevate the already outstanding work being completed by the people in this community. As part of the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grant through USDA, Campbell, MO received branding services. This process allowed the community to come together through input sessions on what is important for the future of downtown and the community and turn those elements into a community and downtown brand.

Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates brought his expertise to:

  • Present on the Promotion point of Main Street

  • Solicit input, needs, and wants of the community to provide a comprehensive and cohesive branding service that brought a cohesive identity to the community



  • Recommend a new brand scheme for multiple entities, including Main Street Campbell, the Peach Fair Festival, and the City of Campbell.


This service helped to bring targeted short-term and long-term recommendations for the downtown and community. Campbell Main Street received a new brand scheme that can be implemented to promote Campbell as a place to live, work, and visit. The Main Street Board will now review the brand scheme they received and vote to adopt it. Look out for Campbell Main Street’s new branding soon. Through this service, this passionate community of just 1,500 now has the direction and resources to continue to grow and build on the expanding economic ecosystem being cultivated in downtown.

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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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The Missouri Main Street Connection’s (MMSC) St. Louis Main Streets team, along with consultants specializing in the Main Street ApproachTM, were on-site in Laclede’s Landing and Delmar on March 13th to present each district with Main Street Plans. Dutchtown Main Streets received similar services in October of 2021 as they were the first pilot district selected for the St. Louis Main Streets pilot program. These plans were created from the last 18-months of input, information gathering, design study, brand development, building and property development, and organizational guidance, all with stakeholders in each district and their surrounding neighborhoods. 

Laclede’s Landing Main Street board members and stakeholders as well as St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) and Greater St. Louis Inc. (GSL) representatives were present for the 90-minute presentation.  Both SLDC and GSL are partners in the Main Street initiative in St. Louis and have listed Main Street as a goal and priority for their organizations in various reports allowing them to continue to partner with each St. Louis Main Streets program as they move into the implementation phase of their work. Partners like SLDC, GSL, and others will be vital to move the districts’ transformation strategies into reality.

The presentation in Laclede’s Landing focused on the historic buildings within the district that need to be redeveloped with a robust recruitment plan.  This plan is focused on retail to service not only the newly established and emerging residential component but also the visitors of the nearby National Park, the Gateway Arch.  The consultants recommended dividing the large first floor spaces into much smaller spaces for “right-sized” retail spaces.  Many of today’s retailers do not need large spaces to thrive, especially those that would be attracted to open in Laclede’s Landing. Parking was also called out since the district is “land-locked” between two bridges, the interstate, and the river.  A professional parking study was recommended to identify a strategy for development projects for the future. The last major component of the presentation was activating the riverfront. The Mississippi River is a huge asset that is under-utilized in the City of St. Louis. The consultants presented ideas on an elevated promenade for outdoor events, new micro-retail space, food truck area, and indoor event space. The plan also called for a floating boardwalk with an enclosed space for people to get out onto the river in duck boats or kayaks. A marina, townhomes, and riverfront restaurant were included. New and updated branding for the district and Main Street program were presented.





Delmar Main Street board, volunteers, and stakeholders as well as SLDC and GSL representatives participated in the evening presentation by the same team as Laclede’s Landing. This presentation focused on development of the historic buildings along Delmar Boulevard while also recommending incentives and tools for the revitalization of those structures. Sample proforma budgets were presented to help property owners understand rehabilitation and development costs. Creating or supporting local ownership was highlighted in the report along with economic empowerment principles and support. Demographics and business targets were shared as tools for entrepreneurs and property owners. It was identified that approximately $299 million was leaking out of the district by residents shopping outside of the district for goods. Some of the major leakage was from too few or lack of retailers in furniture, hardware, clothing, nursery/garden center, or grocery stores. Building renderings and site development ideas were shared in the report. The Main Street program was complimented on the implementation of their branding from a few months ago. 



Now the hard work begins for these districts. Developing implementation action plans, funding, and other resources are on the agenda. As Main Street teaches, the board sets the priorities and identifies resources while the committees create the detailed plans for implementation. Partners and various stakeholders will be essential for success. Each district is diligently working to line up partners that align with each project or initiative. Not to mention that each district is working towards adding an executive director to help elevate the work of the local Main Street program.

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Ben White »

Historic preservation is at the heart of the Main Street movement. It’s what sets Main Street apart from other economic development initiatives in communities. Despite being the heart of the movement, what does historic preservation mean and how do Main Street organizations identify, advocate, and educate community members about the historic assets that make their community unique?

The National Park Service says, “Through historic preservation, we look at history in different ways, ask different questions of the past, and learn new things about our history and ourselves. Historic preservation is an important way for us to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations. Historic preservation helps tell our stories which involve celebrating events, people, places, and ideas that we are proud of.” But how do we bring this mentality to the local level and advocate and educate the community on local assets? The first question is, “What are your local assets?”

Every historic downtown is unique by nature. The buildings, people, and businesses are all unique and have a different story to tell that has shaped what downtown is today and will be in the future. First, there is a history behind why your community was made and many times understanding your downtown, the original development in a community, helps to shape that story and narrative. This is where Main Street organizations can start to showcase the historic assets in their downtown; look back at how the downtown was developed and tell those stories to the community. This fosters an appreciation of those historic assets and educates the community on why your downtown’s story is unique starting at its conception.

There are also other stories to tell that may not have to do with that original development. Did you know that what we consider history is not just 100+ years old; history is made every day. The invention of pre-sliced and packaged sliced bread in Chillicothe in 1928 created a new historic asset that added to the fabric of the community.



Chillicothe is a great example of a big event happening, but not every story or event has to be so dramatic in nature. There are many unidentified assets that are waiting to be identified. After identifying your historic assets, Main Street organizations can craft their downtown’s story to be told through educational materials to the community, such as Route 66 coming through downtown, a building that has housed or is currently housing a significant business, or an historic courthouse; these are all historic assets that make a downtown unique.



For instance, Carthage celebrates its unique history using art, by creating a mural that celebrates the important artists and people from the community.


In Laclede’s Landing in St. Louis, they celebrate the story of Ester, an emancipated slave and one of--if not the--first black, female landowner in St Louis, with the renaming and activation of an alley.


Main Street organizations, while primarily an economic development organization, have the responsibility to identify and share those unique historic assets in their downtown. Historic preservation is layered into how Main Street organizations can distinguish themselves as being different from other economic development entities. In addition, heritage travelers, who, according to Global Urban Development, spend 2.5 times more money in a community, are looking for historic assets that set your downtown apart. Every downtown is different; that story needs to be identified and told to the community and to potential visitors.  

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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.


Timing is everything, and sometimes timing changes everything. Having bought MoMo’s Favorite Treats in Jackson, Missouri, an existing bakery business, in the middle of a pandemic, Shannon Elfrink and her husband Chris were facing several challenges. Much of the owner’s previous income was based on space rental, which, at least temporarily, was not happening. Providing consistent hours of operation became a challenge exacerbated by ever changing regulations and restrictions and a general lack of any public events.

Shannon and Chris had dreamed of owning a bakery and were sure they could overcome the challenges with a little help in laying out a plan and improving their reach. They applied for a Downtown Strong Grant to get some support in writing a business plan.  In addition, they asked for help with their website, wanting it to better reflect the bakery and their dream for its future.  Along with these services, they needed an improved social media plan.  Through the grant, they were partnered with BOLD Media, who not only had all the expertise needed to assist Shannon and Chris but were in nearby Cape Girardeau, making it optimal for onsite visits. 

Dana Thomas with BOLD Marketing met with Shannon and Chris and saw that the project goals were to develop a plan for opportunities to grow online retail sales and drive more in-store traffic with new audiences.  She went to work, developing and eventually launching a full custom website with dedicated landing pages for each service, offering initial SEO work and training.  These service offerings included weddings, bridal packages, baby, birthdays, and brunches.  A social media marketing plan incorporated several designed ads to support online sales growth and attract new audiences.

Helping develop a business plan gave Dana an opportunity to help Shannon and Chris figure out how to streamline their business for greater profitability with less overhead and time investment.  Just what they needed with a new baby on the way!


After visiting the bakery and working with Shannon and Chris, Dana had some ideas about additional ways to help them and went above and beyond the grant scope.  She provided them with creative ideas for in-store design and retail space layout, working with them to improve their flow.

Shannon said of the services provided through the grant: “Being a newer, small business in this current market it would have taken us a few years to accomplish what the grant helped us accomplish.”  She added that “The business plan development and then going through the business plan with us step by step will help us lay out our goals and continue to successfully grow our business. This grant, and BOLD Marketing, gave us the tools we need to continue to grow our business and be successful.”

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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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 Campbell Main Street in March of 2022 with completion of the project in October of 2022.


Campbell Main Street is the Main Street organization for Campbell, Missouri. Campbell, like many Missouri communities, has unique heritage and traditions that are special to its close-knit community. As part of their community culture, alumni and locals participate in the Campbell High School Annual Alumni Reunion. Campbell Main Street created a festival to correspond with the Annual Alumni Reunion in 2021 with a huge turnout and renewed interest in returning to Campbell for future reunions. 2022 marked the second year for the Campbell Main Street Festival and Campbell Main Street wanted to continue growing what they offered the community and see the recorded sales at downtown businesses, vendors, and food trucks continue to grow at the event.




Through the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism grant the festival, now named Campbell Main Street Festival: Cotton & Camels, included a petting zoo with a live camel, antique and vintage cars, a shuttle, and a display featuring the history of the cotton harvest in Campbell. Why was a live camel important to the event? Well, the camel is the mascot of the Campbell High School that is a main component of the festival as the number of alumni attending increased greatly for 2022. Community feedback was positive as attendees enjoyed the food trucks while alumni loved the cotton exhibit and the live camel. On top of the planned activities by Campbell Main Street, one downtown business held their grand opening during the event.




Leading up to the Campbell Main Street Festival: Cotton & Camels, board members and volunteers of Campbell Main Street were hard at work preparing all the festivities and amenities that would be a part of the event. The whole downtown and surrounding area transformed with fall décor and cotton. Over 300 volunteer hours were contributed in several ways from planting, watering, and caring for planters around town that included cotton seed to reaching out and coordinating with partners and vendors. As a result of the efforts Campbell Main Street Executive Director Jackie Pearson stated, “35 downtown business participated in the festival.”




Through the Campbell Main Street Festival: Cotton and Camels, Campbell Main Street returned to their heritage while also continuing to implement their current Main Street’s family-focused Transformation Strategy.

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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