Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) offers two matching grants to help downtown organizations with their economic development efforts. The People Energizing Places (PEP) Grant and the Strategic Teams Engaging People (STEP) Grant are a two-year and one-year grants for services, respectively.
MMSC is currently working with Sedalia and St. Charles through the PEP Grant. The City of Sedalia applied and awarded the grant in January of 2021 to start a city-led Main Street program. City officials had previous experience with Main Street and wanted help forming a local Main Street program that utilized an already established downtown city commission to serve as the leadership team. MMSC did not have a city-led Main Street program in Missouri but, through the national Main Street network, knew there were successful city-led Main Street programs in other states. Keith Winge, State Community Development Director, reached out to various Main Street State Coordinators to learn the ins-and-outs of Main Street programs housed within city government.
Nation-wide most Main Street programs are established as non-profit, public benefit organizations designated as 501(c)3 organizations by the Internal Revenue Service. There are also 501(c)6 membership based Main Street programs and Main Street organizations established as part of city or county government entities. Each format has pros and cons ranging from the ability to take advantage of grant opportunities and encourage volunteer engagement with the 501(c)3 to the stability of wages and benefits in a city or county program. The 501(c)6 format serves members and is not eligible for some grants while a city-led program must work harder to get volunteers involved. MMSC reviewed the pros and cons with the City of Sedalia and they settled on the city-led Main Street format.
Keith Winge began transforming the current Central Business and Cultural District Board into the Main Street leadership Board of Directors. A community survey and stakeholder input session also took place to gather input on how downtown is used and what the community would like to see downtown with regards to businesses and activities. This input helped with the formation of Main Street Transformation Strategies, also known as economic strategies, to guide the work of the newly formed Main Street program. Using that data and feedback, MMSC recommended the Main Street program focus on creating a family friendly and entertainment strategy. The City of Sedalia’s Main Street committees
, will begin planning projects and initiatives that will use the Transformation Strategies as their guide. Guided work with MMSC through the PEP grant will continue until the end of 2022 to help the City build their Main Street program.
St. Charles is a different story in that their downtown district is one of the quintessential downtowns in Missouri. It has very little vacancy and many thriving downtown businesses, but the district lacked a formal organization to keep those efforts going. A group of business and property owners got together to apply for the PEP grant for help in creating a Main Street organization to keep the downtown thriving into the future. In April of 2022 Keith started with a day-long assessment of the current stakeholder groups by gathering feedback on what was and was not working in the district.
The group had already established a non-profit, 501(c)3 and Keith began helping them fill the Board of Directors reflecting the various stakeholder groups, diverse skillsets, and demographics representing the community-at-large. The Main Street principles and philosophy were taught to the new Board of Directors equipping them to lead this new organization. This new board is now recruiting and forming the Main Street committees. These committees will brainstorm projects and initiatives, develop action plans, and implement those plans. This two-year grant is entering its second year with MMSC finalizing the administration of the grant in 2023 where the St. Charles Main Street organization will continue to develop the committees, determine priorities, and continue to build a strong foundation to keep the momentum going in downtown St. Charles for their future.
If your Main Street program or downtown are interested in one of MMSC’s matching grant programs, reach out to Keith Winge at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 417-334-3014.