We love historic downtowns!

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

Public and Private INVESTMENT


Net new businesses


Net New jobs


volunteer hours


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 (April, 2023)

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.


Photos pictured above are featured on Mississippi Mutts website. 

Mississippi Mutts is a local small business with a large and loving customer base. They offer niche bakery items, in-store washing stations, an outdoor activity area, and other niche services. They share on their website that, “Mississippi Mutts is a pet supply store, handmade treat bakery, and sudsy solution for furry family members. Located in downtown Cape Girardeau, we aim to be ‘your dog’s home away from home’,” but if you know Sherry Jennings and her staff, you know they are more than just a store! When reading their reviews, the word “love” pops up a lot and that is because they love their customers (both human and furry), their community, and what they do. The reverse is also true as their customers (human and furry) love them too!

The Mississippi Mutts' staff creatively approaches business through developing partnerships, events, and opportunities to engage with the community. One always active relationship that they have is with Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) Marketing students. The SEMO students often helped Mississippi Mutts’ owners with marketing and their website.

Despite these strengths, like many businesses during the pandemic, Mississippi Mutts experienced some challenges. They offer great products and services, but without an integrated ordering system it consumed too much time to answer calls for booking in-store activities and ordering products. Meaning they spent a good portion of their time manually managing website orders rather than doing what they valued and loved the most, having interactions with their patrons in-store. The assistance from their great partnership with SEMO Marketing students helped them get to this point, but they realized they needed to be more strategic in their marketing to expand their customer base, and they needed a website integrated some types of online sales and orders.


Photo pictured above is featured on Mississippi Mutts website.   

Missouri Main Street Connection brought in Dana Thomas with BOLD Marketing to facilitate the services they were awarded through the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant.  During the consultations, Dana helped Sherry and her staff realize how they could become more efficient, increase sales, and diversify their customer base. Dana helped them develop a new website (https://mississippimutts.com/) that better promotes their in-store line of products, services, events, and activities. Excitingly, the site now allows for custom ordering of bakery items that celebrate things like gotcha days, birthdays, and weddings. During the development of the website, Dana gave the staff training and instructional documents as guides to make sure they could maintain the site into the future.

Dana didn’t stop there. The website also integrated a newsletter feature that utilizes MailChimp to streamline communications with customers and promote events and in-store specials. The MailChimp email platform was implemented with three email templates for future customer communications. One of which targets a new audience to capture as a customer base, SEMO students. Social media ads were also developed to push higher margins and core service opportunities such as bathing stations, customer orders, general products, and weddings, while also moving event attendance.



This combination of services provided by BOLD helped streamline custom order operations, while the email blasts and social ad strategies moved their customer base for growth both online and in-store. A “pawsitively perfect” strategy.

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 highlighting each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to Clinton Main Street in March of 2022 with completion of the project in October of 2022.



Clinton Main Street is the Main Street organization for Clinton, Missouri. Clinton is the County Seat for Henry County making it another Main Street that is a county seat. Their Courthouse Square is also a part of their district, making it the heart of the surrounding area holding significant history in its buildings.

The Board and staff of Clinton Main Street worked with local student, writer, and photographer to create a walking tour that invites visitors to engage with their local history when they are downtown through the Marketing and Heritage Cultural Tourism Grant. The tour is housed on their website with a Google Maps-based interactive map that provides information on the numerous cultural tourism landmarks that are in Clinton’s downtown. Visitors can scan QR codes that are located on nine buildings and five historic structures to view Clinton’s history and photos of how the building used to look as well as view a map to other locations downtown.



During your time in Clinton participating in this walking tour you can visit and learn more about structures like the Human Alliance Fountain, 9-11 Memorial, and They Stood Tall Memorial and buildings like the Delozier Building, Anheuser Busch building, and Clinton Candle Company building.



Clinton Main Street has big ambitions as they are already dreaming big on how they can incorporate more of their downtown in this new online insightful experience about the history of Clinton through more buildings.


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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Missouri Main Street Connection is hosting the 2023 Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference in St. Louis. This year the atmosphere MMSC welcomes you into is focused on People-Centered Revitalization which is community vision in action. From the educational sessions to the tours and events, attendees can expect to see how they themselves, from communities of all sizes are the catalyst to create partnerships, build community, foster entrepreneurs, and boost the local economy while preserving and promoting the culture of their district and downtown. It is the people who are the power behind Main Street. By utilizing action plans and the Main Street framework people transform their community’s vision into implementation that addresses current and future needs.


At the conference, you will see familiar terms as MMSC leans into the foundation of the Main Street Approach™. Sessions will explore the guiding principles of each of the four points which are respectively rooted in the economic, civic, physical, and social characteristics of each Main Street district. The Main Street Approach sets the model for local Main Street programs to utilize the four points in committees that accelerate change through empowering community stakeholders to work collaboratively for a collective impact on the community.


Pictured Above: Downtown Lee’s Summit Board

You will find that it is impossible for Main Street to work on its own, for it is all about partnerships. There are countless stakeholders and relationships that are vital to the sustainability of a Main Street program and success of its initiatives. During the conversations you have at the conference lean into how to prioritize people and relationships. Who needs to be engaged you may ask? We say everyone should be engaged whether they come to your table and provide input, or the Main Street programs staff, board, or committee goes to their table. Though there is only 24-hours in a day, there are ways to build connections with stakeholders first through trust and then a shared problem or common goal.


Pictured Above: Cape Girardeau

The goal of Main Street isn’t to have a thriving downtown in and of itself, but to nurture the revitalization and creation of an equitable, sustainable, healthy, resilient, and vibrant community whose heart and core is a Main Street that provides spaces to shop, work, live, and play. As we have learned in recent years, people make the place. It is all about a balance between a communities rich, unique, and often complex history which informs its present and people. Main Street programs can leverage their approach and expertise to transform and build a community which listens to residents’ voices in implementing ideas.


Pictured Above: Small Business in Independence, MO.

MMSC invites attendees to embrace the power that people hold as drivers of their respective local economy in roles that range from small business owners, entrepreneurs, or generational business owners to patrons, volunteers, visitors, or residents. Everyone plays a role in today’s society to impact their local community.

Missouri Main Street Connection is excited about how a People-Centered Revitalization mindset can inform and impact local Main Street program’s implementation of the Main Street Approach™. We hope you will join us to learn from fantastic speakers and our entire Main Street network in St. Louis.

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Missouri Main Street Connection staff and several board members visited Boston for the 2023 Main Street Now conference. This annual conference is a time where local Main Street programs from across the country, and sometimes international guests, convene to hear other local Main Street directors, consultants, and stakeholders present educational sessions on new initiatives to implement the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize local Main Street districts and their economies. This year Main Street America delivered a fantastic conference by curating brilliant speakers to learn from. There were many great ideas and new perspectives that Missouri Main Street Connection is bringing back with them.


Pictured above left to right: Michael Wagler, Iowa Main Street; Laura Krizov, Michigan Main Street Center; Darrel Young, Main Street America; Gayla Roten, Missouri Main Street Connection.


Our State Coordinator, Gayla Roten, alongside Michigan Main Street Center’s State Coordinator, Laura Krizov, were recognized for their multiple terms of service on the Coordinator Leadership Council. The award was presented by Michael Wagler, Iowa Main Street, and Darrel Young, Main Street America.

The MMSC staff, board, and volunteers attended incredible sessions that enabled them to better serve Missouri’s Main Street communities. They had major takeaways from attending conference that they want to share with you.

Gayla Roten

As the state Main Street program, we are continually educating our local Main Street programs about the importance of the roles and responsibilities of a Main Street Board of Directors. We give examples of the benefit of a working board over a governing board and why a working board is vital to the success of the Main Street organization.

I am delighted to share that the Missouri Main Street Board of Directors are an amazing working board. They just don’t talk about it, but they are leading by example. They have made a substantial commitment to Missouri Main Street network communities and districts we serve every day.

This is shown through their unwavering dedication, we had four of our board members and one Advisory member attend the Main Street Now conference in Boston and three of these members also attended two training days prior to the conference with the State Coordinators around the United States. This gave them real-time exposure to the Main Street movement around the nation, each of them learned new best practices and received new insight in community revitalization. Our Board President Bob Lewis, Vice-President Chris Johnston, Immediate Past President Steven Hoffman, Board Member Russ Volmert, and Advisory Member Erika Hagan attended alongside the Missouri Main Street team.

I am so thankful for such a dedicated Missouri Main Street Board of Directors that’s leading a National-recognized Main Street organization into the future for Missouri.

Logan Breer – The Endless Opportunity for All on Main Street to Live Life to the Fullest

In abundance or scarcity, it is about the people and their mindset fixed on what is possible that determines the outcome rather than what has happened in the past. Conference was full of examples of innovation, overcoming adversity, activities, and excitement which showed that local Main Street programs are making an impact on the vibrancy of their districts and surrounding communities including everyone. I saw implementation in the activation of an empty lot left by fire through temporary programming that brought young and old, singles and families. As well as excitement from what Main Street Sweetwater, TN shared about their 2017 solar eclipse experience, with approximately 50,000k visitors, in preparation for the 2024 solar eclipse in which the path of totality travels over Cape Girardeau, MO.

Keith Winge

The thing I most like about attending the Main Street Now conferences is the diversity of sessions and topics. I can always find something that is a new trend, it could be a session on a basic principle as a refresher, or a new idea related to that principle. In fact, my problem is there are usually 2-3 sessions that I am interested in that are taking place at the same time. The conference always fills my mind...and heart...with ideas for the upcoming year.


Pictured above: Area in Boston taken by MMSC Staff during their exploration of the city.


Ben White

The Main Street Now Conference is such a great opportunity to learn from professionals with diverse experiences and backgrounds. These sessions and conversations enable local programs and Missouri Main Street Connection to bring back resources for continued economic development in Missouri communities. The energy from this conference truly is contagious and is such a great opportunity to network with other programs across the nation. Boston, with its storied, historic past, provided the perfect backdrop for these conservations, and I am already excited to go again in Alabama in 2024!

Katelyn Brotherton

The Main Street Now conference is such a rewarding experience to see so many states and local communities take the same concept – the Main Street Approach™ - and apply it so uniquely and effectively to their individual circumstances and needs. The Main Street Approach™ can be tailored to fit any situation and need. Learning from each other is the true beauty of the Main Street network and having the opportunity to do so on a national scale is so exciting and inspiring. I always try to seek out sessions that highlight the work done in communities in other states just to be able to hear what they are doing and how they are accomplishing it to help bring those ideas back to Missouri for our programs. In addition to the sessions, the conference is invaluable for the time it allows us to spend with like-minded people who are also dedicated to implementing Main Street, which this year was over 1900 people! Connecting with new faces across the country, but also having dedicated time to learn with our attendees from Missouri, is so worthwhile.


Pictured above left to right: Bob Lewis and Gayla Roten volunteering as Downtown Experts at Main Street America’s Dr. Downtown booth for Main Street Now attendees to get professional advice.


Pictured above front to back: Dr. Steven Hoffman, Russ Volmert, Chris Johnston, Janet Hlavacek, and Bob Lewis at Cheers for MMSC’s state dinner.


Chris Johnston

As Vice-President of MMSC, I got the opportunity to travel to Boston with the staff, attend informative conference sessions, and make new friends. As part of conference, Main Street America offers tours that allow you to explore the surrounding history and see the amazing architecture. I had an amazing time with Main Street friends on the Freedom Trail.

Steven Hoffman

Each year I am inspired by the work of so many people in communities across the country who devote themselves to making their communities better. Watching the GAMSA awards is particularly emotional for me, seeing communities transformed and improved while remembering when I walked across the stage in Atlanta when Cape Girardeau won the award. It is so rewarding to see the results of the work people are doing in their communities, and it invigorates me to know that collectively we are making a positive change in the world. Each year I am also impressed with the collaborative spirit that everyone has, willing to share ideas and help one another succeed. Sitting in the coordinators meetings and seeing the respect and admiration other coordinators have for the Missouri program makes me so proud of our Missouri team and what we are able to accomplish working together in community.

Pictured above: Margaret Waterman at the Big Bash hosted at the New England Aquarium.


Margaret Waterman

My big takeaway is the power of passion and the commitment to positive change, which I witnessed among attendees, speakers, and even exhibitors, and the steps people took to cultivate relationship (Missouri at Cheers!).  I was especially moved by artist Janell Nelson of the Englewood Arts Collective, Chicago. Her session "Engaging Community through Visual Communication" illustrated her group’s passion for “values-aligned projects with purpose”.  She talked about using many elements of graphic design and branding to “cultivate joy” and engage residents in designing and making a new gateway mural to their South Side neighborhood.   She and the project were inspirational to my work on the Design Committee at Old Town Cape!

Conferences are great places to learn new things from other attendees, the location of the conference, and the speakers. Missouri Main Street Connection thanks Main Street America for hosting Main Street Now annually for our staff, board, and local communities to learn and gather inspiration. If you missed attending Main Street Now in 2023 you can join Missouri Main Street Connection in St. Louis in July for the Missouri’s Premier Downtown Revitalization Conference to experience conference while you wait for next year to go to Birmingham, Alabama for the 2024 Main Street Now conference.

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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 the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in March 2022 with completion of the project in October 2022.


The Vienna Chamber of Commerce is currently participating in the Community Empowerment Grant (CEG) program. Through the CEG program they are working with Ben White, Missouri Main Street Connection’s Senior Program Specialist, to develop a Main Street program that serves their community through adapting the Chamber into a Main Street program for Vienna, Missouri. Vienna is a small village almost smack dab in the middle of the state, south of Jefferson City, sitting next to the Gasconade River. They consider themselves to be in the “Heart of Missouri” as they are surrounded by rich, lush Missouri foliage. As for heritage and culture, Vienna falls into the same category as many Missouri small towns whose community is interconnected to the outdoors which means their history, heritage, and culture that they promote and identify with, is both outdoors and indoors. Their Main Street district provides the indoor activity with small-town charm where you can shop “Quite corner [shops]” and eat your fill, and their outdoors is the many opportunities for you to become an explorer and uncover the treasures of Missouri’s land and the Gasconade River.


 Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

The Vienna Chamber of Commerce used the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Grant to implement phase one of their three phase plan to attract tourists to return to Vienna after the pandemic affected their tourism. They developed a “Plan Your Trip” virtual experience on their website (Visit Vienna) and created a Tourism Guide that highlights the places to eat, shop, stay, and play in Vienna and its surrounding area. They achieved this by working with their businesses through commercial branding photography sessions by Katie Crum, which were used for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce’s project as well as by the business itself (Vienna’s Plan).



In the digital world we live in, a hybrid approach to communication is the best route; where you feature your information in an accessible way to digital nomads as well as strategically use printed materials to capture those who prefer the tactile experience. Therefore, printed tourism materials are a very important promotional tool that allow a wide range of people to learn about your community that may not have their digital algorithm attuned to you specifically, but their driving habits put them in the right place at the right time. Vienna took advantage of that. Their tourism guide can be found in Vienna’s Welcome Center, the local area businesses, as well as tourism centers and gas stations across the state. As for digital content, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce composed a video commercial, featuring the photos and videos their photographer captured. It is featured on their website and promoted as an ad on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram as well as on a television at the Welcome Center.



Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

The promotional efforts of Vienna’s places to eat, shop, stay, and play are still going on. Maybe you have seen them already! Check out what they put together and book a stay to see what their community has to offer (Visit Vienna). They have seasonal events that are great experiences of what makes Vienna special such as the Vienna Sausage & Wine Festival in the Spring.



Photo taken by Katie Crum of Katie Crum Photography.

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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