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

Public and Private INVESTMENT

$1000000000

Net new businesses

834

Net New jobs

4109

volunteer hours

444113

Designated Missouri Main Street communities report economic impact in their districts each quarter. Cumulative totals for the program.

 

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The One Billion Partnership
AUTHOR
Ben White »

In 2021, Missouri Main Street Connection celebrated $1 billion of private and public investment in Main Street districts across Missouri. This incredible investment, tracked since 2006, has transformed downtowns.


There are key differences between public and private investment. Public investment is described as dollars spent by the public sector, including city, county, and state governments while private investment comes from other non-governmental sources. Since Missouri Main Street Connection has been collecting statistics, private investment has more than doubled that of public investment in downtowns. The doubling of private investment has been possible in part due to the public sector’s emphasis in creating the foundation for development.


In 2012, Cape Girardeau showcased why having a public and private partnership is essential for sustaining revitalization. Shortly before 2012, a new casino was developed along the riverfront. To enhance the area and attract people to the river, the casino partnered with the City of Cape Girardeau and Old Town Cape on a beautification project on one of downtown’s main corridors, Broadway Street. This project included new streets, major landscaping, and new cantilever street lighting that transformed downtown in a meaningful way. This project brought much needed beautification, lighting, and walkability measures to this busy thoroughfare, a long-identified need from the community.  Here is what Liz Haynes, Executive Director of Old Town Cape, said about the project:


“The Broadway streetscape project in Cape Girardeau exemplifies how sound community planning can transform a street and neighborhood and propelled extensive private and public investment in the Broadway corridor. A result of the planning efforts has been increased pedestrian activity, investment in buildings and facades, and an enhanced, beautiful street for Old Town Cape.”

 

 


Public investment can be the catalyst in private sector downtown development efforts. The Main Street philosophy focuses on leveraging together resources to capitalize on small incremental changes that change the perspective of downtown and utilize good business practices to attract investors and partners with the potential market of a vibrant downtown. Private investment many times happens when there is a shown effort to revitalize downtown. As a result of these collaborative efforts in Cape Girardeau, eight blocks of Broadway Street received the 2021 American Planning Association Missouri Great Place Award. This award recognizes projects and places that have shown to have great economic impact on an area.


Investment in downtown comes from intentional efforts to revitalize. However, this effort takes more than just one or two people, but it truly takes the community. Public and private investment need to work hand in hand for true, comprehensive development that will be sustainable. Investment doesn’t happen on accident; it takes forethought and a plan by all who want to envision a thriving community that provides a high quality of life for its community members.

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Photography is one of the greatest tools a Main Street program can use in continuing their great work. Words often associated with photography are preservation, documentation, evidence, proof, and memories. These words coalesce what distinguishes Main Street from other groups and non-profits; that is its focus and dedication on preserving the historic character of downtowns as the heart of the community through its central location and hub for entrepreneurs, businesses, events, and more. It is this historic character that draws people in through a sense of living and visiting a unique place.

This intersection between photography and Main Street centers on its mission to record, document, and preserve a community’s life and patrons. Without pictures, we would know very little about the look of our Main Streets from the 1900s, but because the time and effort people took in the past to photograph what they did we have a better picture of what Main Streets looked like in the past and how vibrant they were. There are many famous pictures you see today that portray the mundane, people’s normal lives or regular buildings of that time that we now reflect back on and cherish as part of our community’s past. It is imperative that we continue what our predecessors have done and document the work we do for others to reflect on and become inspired by in years to come.


Four Benefits from Documenting Main Street Preservation


Showing Impact: Photographs and recorded materials can be used in reports provided to stakeholders, donors, partners, or city and county officials to demonstrate the impact and return on investment Main Street has in communities through the work of its citizens. Words and numbers do a good job at communicating what we need them to, but a photo truly is worth a thousand words with what can be conveyed. These reports include annual reports, partnership brochures, stakeholder brochures, etc. Wait and see just how you can spur new investment by capturing and sharing how you have used past investment wisely and for community benefit.

 

Promotion of District and Main Street Organization: Photograph your events, volunteers, and other Main Street activities to include in your promotional campaigns and materials. Focus on capturing candid moments and event photography that people can cherish, look back on, and enjoy. Also, consider how your photos can communicate a sense of place by capturing your streets and buildings in streetscapes, landscape, or cityscape photography.

Preservation: Capturing moments in history show to people what and how spaces used to be in decades past and today for future generations. These photos can showcase your district’s unique buildings and architectural features and use drone footage to show the entire district and the changes that happen with infill or empty lot activation. Add an annual pictoral survey of your district into your action plan so that you make time to document the changes.

Grant Writing: Photographing the before, during, and after of your projects are important records that are asked and required for grant writing and reporting. For example, under the Historic Tax Credit programs offered at the state and federal levels before work starts pictures are requested for the application to show the current condition and pictures during the project, after completion, and in use for documentation.

 

Tips for Photographing Main Street

 

  • Take as many photos as you can so you have an ample amount to pick the best from.
  • If you have access to a digital camera become familiar with its settings and use it over a phone to ensure a higher pixel density and quality.
  • Take pictures as often as you can of your district at events and minor and major projects to record the changes that happen to highlight all that is going on in your district.
  • Consider different angles and perspectives to capture the breadth of your district and all of the nooks and crannies.
  • Share your pictures so others may fall in love with your district.


How will you capture the heart of your district and its people to preserve and tell later on?

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