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

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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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It is has already been a busy start to the new year of Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC). January saw us planning for a year full of events, trainings and celebrating our 10th Anniversary!

On the 25th of January we held our first event of 2016 in Jefferson City. Each year MMSC hosts a showcase of our Main Street communities for all of the state legislators in order to not only illustrate the impact and power of Main Street but also to highlight, once more, the outstanding work completed by our 2015 Missouri Main Street award winners. Guest enjoyed the reception while sharing their experiences in Main Street. The showcase was held at Revel Catering in downtown Jefferson City.

The beginning of February was spent finishing program visits to many of our Main Street communities. With the assistance of the National Main Street Center’s (NMSC) Norma Ramirez de Miess, members of our staff were able to visit some of our community organizations and assess their use of the Main Street Four-Point Approach®. After touring the downtown districts, they met with staff, the board of directors and committees to see what each community is working on.

March is proving to be a very busy month at MMSC. We are hosting our Main Street Summit on March 3-4 at our office in Branson. The summit is a free, invite only event for communities wanting to learn more about advancing their community and downtown using the Main Street Four Point Approach®. Two participants per community, one from the city and one from the downtown organization must be in attendance. Presented by the National Main Street Senior Program Officer Norma Ramirez de Miess, this event will focus on board, volunteer and fund-raising development as well as identifying key players and organizations to assist in each communities revitalization goals. Attendees will also learn practical tools for success of their organizations. For more information, please call our office at 417-334-3014.

At MMSC we offer three matching grant programs that help communities advance their downtown organizations. One of these, the Affiliate Grant, helps communities in the beginning stages of developing their organization. To apply for this grant, community representatives must attend one of the Affiliate Grant Workshops that we host throughout the year. The first of these workshops will be on March 9th in Jefferson City. Attendees will receive an introduction to the Main Street Philosophy of Revitalization, information on how to apply for the grant as well as the application materials. This is one of only two Affiliate Grant workshops that we are hosting in 2016, so reserve your spot today!

We begin April on a high note with our Quarterly Workshop on April 1st in Grandview, one of our Affiliate Main Street communities. This workshop titled Nuts and Bolts of Commercial District Real Estate Investment will teach attendees how, given the right tools and fundamental understanding, they can influence the market dynamics that impact local real estate investment as part of an overall Economic Vitality strategy. Speaker Matt Wagner from the National Main Street Center will use case studies and hands on examples to showcase how organizations can improve their success by understanding how to create a more attractive community environment conducive to district property development.

As you can see, our 2016 calendar is full of events to help communities across the state continue their work in revitalization. For more information and to register for these and many other events go to our upcoming trainings page. Also, stay tuned for updates on each opportunity by signing up for our newsletter. And don’t forget, early bird registration for the Main Street Now conference hosted by NMSC on May 23-25, 2016 in Milwaukee ends on February 29th. Register today in order to hear about great revitalization work happening in communities of all sizes throughout the country!

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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) is excited to announce the appropriation of matching grants to two communities seeking to create a Main Street program and one well-established Main Street program aspiring to grow and improve their efforts.  Main Street Moberly, Inc. was awarded the Strategic Teams Engaging Places (STEP) Grant, a one-year program to identify, create, and implement a plan of action for a specific initiative.  The cities of Sugar Creek and Butler were both awarded the Affiliate Grant, a program designed to help each community create a Main Street program, build a foundation, then identify and implement goals. 

Main Street Moberly has Renewed Energy

Main Street Moberly, Inc. was established in 1989 to counteract the blight in downtown Moberly, but the program has ebbed and flowed through the years.  Recently new businesses have opened in downtown and downtown events have been successful in sparking a renewed energy for the organization to take the opportunity with the STEP Grant to tackle a few obstacles for growth.  Main Street Moberly currently supports approximately 125 downtown businesses with a part-time executive director. 

Sugar Creek is taking an Active Revitalization Role

Situated on the Missouri River between Independence and Kansas City with a population of over 3,000, Sugar Creek attempted downtown revitalization in the past with small successes which led to the renewed interest in the Affiliate Grant program.  Some private and public improvements have happened organically in the downtown district in Sugar Creek, but with the assistance of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® the community wants to take a more active role to speed up the process.  Armed with small town charm and an active plan for growth and development, Sugar Creek declares “life is about to get even sweeter.” 

Butler is Eager to Preserve Their Rich History

Butler is south of Kansas City along I-49 and is the county seat for Bates County.  Downtown Butler features a square as the city center and is rich with history having been one of the first communities west of the Mississippi to install electric lights illuminating the downtown area, giving it the name “The Electric City.”  With a renewed drive from some enterprising community members, interest in downtown is on the rise.  Opportunities for developing empty storefronts and attracting business from the interstate will allow this town of over 4,200 to create a vibrant downtown.  Historic preservation, community pride, and job creation were the main drivers for Butler when applying for the grant. 

Grants are Available for New and Established Organizations

Missouri Main Street offers three matching grant programs providing up to 75% of the costs:  Affiliate Grant, People Energizing Places (PEP), and Strategic Teams Engaging Places (STEP).  These grant programs continue the mission of MMSC, which is to provide the tools and resources for downtown revitalization to Missouri communities.  MMSC is a 501(c)3 and financially supported by funding from the State of Missouri, Missouri Department of Economic Development, grants, sponsors, members, and other donations.  Over 178 Missouri communities receive education, training, and mentoring from MMSC through workshops, conferences, consultations, assessments, and personal visits. 

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Last week while visiting the great folks at Moberly Main Street, I had the opportunity to hear author and revitalization maverick Ron Drake. Ron wrote the book Flip This Town and has been a speaker/presenter at National Main Street conferences in the past. The Moberly Chamber of Commerce hosted Ron as the keynote speaker at their annual dinner and I was invited to sit at the Main Street table…thank you Moberly Main Street. 


Ron grew up in California where he was in the construction business. After visiting Siloam Springs, Arkansas, he fell in love with the community and moved there where he began buying, fixing and selling properties. Having never been a commercial property owner or developer myself, it was very insightful to hear about revitalization from the developer’s perspective. 


From the presentation in Moberly, you can tell that Ron loves properties and he details his passion in his book where he talks about the ability to see through the walls. Ron can see through the botched renovations or previous “upgrades” that hide the building’s details. Through his restorations, Ron uncovers those features and brings back the true character of the building. 


One of his first building rehabilitations was a two-story residential building that suffered damage from a fire. Ron saw the potential and turned it into a multi-family apartment showcasing the character of the building while adding in his own creative touches. The building also served as Ron’s office before it was sold this past month. 


Ron shared that these projects don’t have to be expensive. He is the master of finding cheap ways to transform properties into hip, classy places that people want to live, shop or eat. He likes to reuse and recycle materials to give a unique look to his restorations. 

Ron talked about and shared many of his success stories. As the years passed, he moved to larger and larger projects. He shared his best and worst project, the Creekview Flats. He was denied financing, a first for him. Every day he was asked about the project and felt his past success had prepared him for this rehab. After convincing his wife’s boss to back the project, work began on creating high-end apartments. He went over budget and removed too much of the building’s historic nature by adding an overdose of artistic bling. Even with these issues, the project was a huge success because it garnered local, regional and national attention highlighting the turn-around taking place in Siloam Springs. 


When working on a project, Ron uses his “preservation made practical” approach. If you think about how different entities/people look at a historic building, nothing will ever get done or it will be more costly. Electrical inspectors want all new wiring, the building inspectors want a more secure foundation or new plumbing, and the banker wants a good termite inspection and positive cash flow. His “preservation made practical” approach first looks at the structure of the building and then designs the restoration around a practical, affordable, creative and vibrant plan. Some properties were more historically accurate while others were more simple and practical. 


Ron’s development work didn’t happen in a vacuum. Ron began working with the Siloam Springs Main Street program. In his book, Flip This Town, he outlines the actions taken by the program to spur the revitalization process forward and to the next level. They:

  1. Became part of the Arkansas Downtown Network, the state-wide program.
  2. Took advantage of every training opportunity offered by the state Main Street program.
  3. Aligned themselves with the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce.
  4. Attended city council meetings.
  5. Started meeting with large corporations in Siloam Springs.
  6. Visited every business in downtown and asked “what can we do for you?”
  7. Hired a full-time director.
  8. Applied and was approved to become an official state Main Street program.
  9. Became the “go-to” organization in Siloam Springs.
  10. Started seeing the fruits of their hard work with growth in businesses, events and life.


The culmination of these factors lead to Smithsonian Magazine naming Siloam Springs as one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America in 2012. As Ron would say, Siloam Springs was an overnight success that took over six years. 


Ron Drake now serves as a consultant sharing the successes and inspiration of Siloam Springs. Ron is passionate about what he does and loves to share his story. You can find out more on his website at http://rondrakeconsulting.com/. You can also pick up his book at your local bookstore or on his website. Ron is a true inspiration and you can bet Siloam Springs is on my “to visit” list.  

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