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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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MMSC Design Services

The temporary measures communities took to create spaces for gathering and dining in light of the pandemic have become beloved places amongst residents and guests of the district. This presents an opportunity for local Main Street programs to transition their temporary spaces into established amenities that activate their downtown and appeal to residents and guests alike.

Missouri Main Street Connection offers design assistance and renderings for streetscape and amenity planning that can assist communities in developing features that capture the feeling of connectivity that are associated with the outdoor and open spaces. Now it is the time for these interim spaces to take on a new light with the help of our consultants in designing pocket parks, greenspaces, or through alley activation that provides a long-term home for these temporary amenities to provide casual, shade, seating, tables, and dining spaces through movable seating, play objects, tables, games, lighting, and activities.

Andy Kalback is one of the consultants who works with our communities and has worked with Knob Noster in the past. His work with Knob Noster reflects what can be done in many Missouri communities in response to shifts and desires for community outdoor greenspaces. Municipalities are making efforts to equitably create access to greenspaces and an example of this is Saint Louis with their Brickline Greenway project.


Please check out our service directory for information about Missouri Main Street design services that can bring vibrancy to your community. If you have any question about the services we provide, please reach out to our office at 417-334-3014 for further detail.
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Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) initiated the Activation of Storefront Grant program earlier this year to activate vacant storefronts in two Missouri Main Street communities. The grant assists these communities to enhance a vacant storefront in their district with temporary visual treatments to help local entrepreneurs see the possibilities of the space. These communities used market data to determine what new business is needed in the community. The installation will be in place for up to eighteen months and can include pop-up businesses, open houses, maker spaces, and other ideas from the community.

The first recipient was Downtown Marceline, which is the boyhood home of Walt Disney. They have a charming downtown that is quickly becoming a destination location. They used the grant money to set up an incubator space in the historic Zurcher building for entrepreneurs wanting to test out their business concepts. So, along with dressing up the windows to provide for more inviting curb appeal, they are using their market data to recruit entrepreneurs as identified through market data. The goal is to rent out the space to just one tenant, but the organization wants to cultivate the idea of budding entrepreneurs and help them find spaces in downtown. They have partnered with various organizations in the community, including the Future Businesses Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter at Marceline High School to make this a reality.

The other grant recipient was Main Street Willow Springs. They created a mock-up of a women’s clothing store in their identified building. According to their community input and market data, they are in need of a store for women to purchase clothing and accessories. Additionally, after this promotional project is complete, they will transition and mock-up an outdoors men’s store in the storefront windows. Many community members and visitors hunt and fish just outside Willow Springs and their downtown could use this type of retail store. They hope to continue this kind of project with other vacant properties in downtown. 

Each group, despite the pandemic, has been full steam ahead on their projects. In Marceline, their future plan is to hold an open house to not only show the physical improvements to the building, but to show the potential of the space to entrepreneurs. At the conclusion of the project, they will work with the FBLA students to market the success of the project and bring this plan to building owners who are struggling to rent this space. This has also inspired Downtown Marceline to look at offering their own storefront activation grant. Willow Springs plans to continually update the window display to attract attention to the building and create buzz in the local media in a concerted effort to rent out the building to either a women’s clothing or men’s outdoor store. The local Main Street organization has had a hard time convincing community members that true, positive progress can happen in downtown. Upon completion of this project, the organization will use this success to shift that mindset. They will also use this plan and action steps to talk with building owners on how to actively recruit entrepreneurs. 
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Spring - Finally!

Now it is time to think about our buildings! 

This is the perfect time for every business and property owner downtown to take a serious look at their building for both maintenance issues and to evaluate whether it is time to make visual improvements.

Instead of starting with the glitz and glamour—it is really important to go through a checklist of basic maintenance items to be prepared for the spring storms and summer sunshine.

First, take a good look at the back of your building. Are the gutters and downspouts in good condition? Or have they gotten disconnected or damaged—it is easy to check during a rain storm to be sure the water is being carried down and away from the building instead of backing up on the roof or blasting onto the back wall where it can cause leaks through the roof or damage the back wall—both expensive to repair and easy to avoid with just a regular inspection of the gutters.

Then, make sure all the trash and leaves that collects through the winter, and even the dead weeds, are all cleared out—both in back and out front—this let’s people know you are really still in business. First impressions count for you and the entire downtown!


Cleaning the window glass so it sparkles and hosing down the canvas awnings to remove dust helps the building shine.


Now is a good time to check your exterior lighting as well as the lights for your display windows to make sure they are working well—it is hard to compete with the summer sunshine—it is so bright that it will look like your business is closed if you don’t have lights on.

With the basic spring cleaning finished, now is the time when property and business owners should take a step back—across the street—to really look at the front of the building.  Does it look tired and worn? Does it need a fresh coat of paint? Or is it time that you want to consider a major facelift or a new sign? This is the time of year to make those design decisions and line up the contractors who will help you get it done. Remember, your downtown’s Main Street Design Committee can help provide some great ideas and design assistance.

If you think it is time to do a major renovation and repairs, you might want to investigate whether you could utilize some of the financial incentives available to help fund these expenses. If you are in an historic district, you might be able to use historic tax credits to offset 25 to 45% of those improvements. Your city government or Main Street program may have other incentives to help as well. Ask your local Main Street director for details!

Here are two links from our friends in Illinois on building maintenance:



Written by Karen Bode Baxter, Preservation Specialist and Advisory Board Member of Missouri Main Street Connection.

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