News Headlines
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Main Street Pascagoula Awards $10,000 in Façade Grants

 

Main Street Pascagoula has awarded façade grants to six local businesses throughout the Pascagoula Main Street Business District.

 

Façade grants offer a financial incentive to encourage local property owners and businesses to improve the exterior appearance of their buildings and storefronts. Even simple changes such as new paint or landscaping can help signal positive change and often stimulates similar improvements in neighboring buildings.

 

“I’m excited that we can play a small part in helping these small, local businesses improve,” said Michele Coats, President of Main Street. “These businesses owners have put their trust in our community so this is a great way to invest in their businesses to help them succeed. It’s a win-win for all of Pascagoula.”

 

The six Façade Grant Award Recipients include:

Edd’s Drive-In - Walker Foster, Sr.

3834 Market Street

Re-stucco the building, paint the exterior and add additional landscaping

 

Nura Juice Bar - Marcel and Kenyetta Kinard

303 Delmas Ave Cottage E

Add screen door, replace the blinds and landscaping

 

Whimsey Books & Toys - Tracy Wilson and Cathy Johnson

3255 Pascagoula Street

Commission Haley Herring to create a mural on the north side of the building (facing railroad tracks) and resurface the existing Scranton’s sign.

 

Downtown Jazz Club - Susan Williams

3225 Canty Street

Replace the existing awning, pressure wash the building and landscaping

 

Southern Bells Like Big Bows - Shannon and Micah van Duijvendijk

711 Krebs Ave.

Complete the upper level, add historic lighting and landscaping

 

The Jury Room - Parker Pugh and Ramsay Taylor (pictured with Michele Coats of Pascagoula Main Street)

702 Delmas Ave.

Add an awning, install double entry doors and add additional signage

 

Main Street Pascagoula is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization, preservation and economic growth of Historic Downtown Pascagoula. Our funding is made possible by partnerships with the City of Pascagoula, the Mississippi Main Street Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and most importantly, generous contributions from public companies and private citizens of the city and surrounding communities. Main Street Pascagoula is a certified Main Street Community in the State of Mississippi and has received 29 beautification and improvement awards in the past 15 years.


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MAC Grant pays for judges and music in Greenwood

    $4100 MAC Grant Received!  


Greenwood Main Street is thrilled to announce that Main Street Greenwood received a $4,100 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. This grant will be allocated to increase the musical entertainment for Que on the Yazoo 2018 and pay for our judges. We will be hiring more Mississippi musicians to be featured in the event.

 

Main Street Greenwood, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of downtown Greenwood, MS. We promote and support our members who support us. If you would like to be a part of our organization or learn more about us please contact us!

 

mainstreetgreenwood@gmail.com

www.mainstreetgreenwood.com

(662) 453-7625 or (662) 453-0365


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Show me the way in downtown Biloxi!

 

New Wayfinding signs give visitors electronic walking maps to area attractions

 

Biloxi Main Street Association is installing more than 70 temporary wayfinding signs across its downtown district to answer to the often-asked questions from visitors “how can I find out what is going on around here.”

 

“We are installing a unique GIS-based  wayfinding signage system throughout our downtown district to not only point the way to dozens of  attractions, restaurants and nightclubs but to provide detailed walking maps by the scanning of a QR code on visitors’ cell phones,” said Kay Miller, executive director, Biloxi Main Street.

 

While waiting to have permanent and historically-appropriate signs installed in the district, the Main Street’s Economic Vitality committee came up with the idea of using the Walk your City temporary sign system to ensure sure new visitors to the area know how to locate the many attractions in Biloxi’s downtown area.

 

Each sign features a directional arrow and a QR code linked to Google Maps to give direction to the attractions listed on each sign.

 

“We received a grant from the Knight Cities Foundation administered by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to allow this signage system to happen,” says Miller.  “Now the thousands of visitors to our downtown Biloxi will have an immediate mechanism to get directions to our attractions and get detailed Google maps on their mobile devices as well.”

 

All the wayfinding signs are catalogued on a mobile app which gives the Main Street group immediate metrics to see which signs are receiving the most and least scans to make decisions on subsequent sign placement.

 

The Biloxi Main Street Association is a nonprofit leadership group run by dozens of interested citizens aimed at stimulating downtown economic development and preserving the unique historical significance of the area.

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kay Miller at 228.435.6339 or email at kmiller@biloxi.ms.us.


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The Misissippi Gift Company Featured in Google’s 2016 Economic Impact Report

Greenwood, MS-based company showcases use of Internet to grow business



5/16/2017

Cindy Tyler

1-800-467-7763 | ctyler@MSGifts.com

The Mississippi Gift Company is pleased to be featured in an annual Economic Impact Report released this week by Google. The Mississippi Gift Company was selected by Google to represent Mississippi as an example of a business utilizing the Internet to grow their business.

From their hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, Cindy Tyler, owner of The Mississippi Gift Company and her designers, travel the towns and back roads of Mississippi to hand curate the best Mississippi made food, gifts and home decor for Mississippians and displaced Mississippians to share with their clients, friends and family.

"We founded The Mississippi Gift Company over 23 years ago and with the help of Google, have become a successful eCommerce site, mail order cataloger, retail location and tourist destination dedicated to celebrating Mississippi," said Tyler.  "Our unique and handcrafted Mississippi specialties ship direct to our customers' door from our fulfillment/retail center located in downtown Greenwood, Mississippi in the heart of the Mississippi Delta."

“The web is working for American businesses, and we’re continuously impressed by the extraordinary feats people can accomplish when they have access to information and the tools to put it to use,” says Mary Ellen Coe, President, Google Marketing Solutions. “Whether we’re connecting businesses with customers around the world, enabling publishers to earn money from their online content, or helping non-profits rally people in support of their mission, our search and advertising tools create opportunities for businesses, large and small, to grow and thrive.”

Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $222 billion of economic activity for 1.5 million businesses, website publishers, and non-profits across the U.S. in 2016.

For more information about Google’s Economic Impact Report for Mississippi, please visit http://www.google.com/economicimpact. For more information about The Mississippi Gift Company please visit http://www.TheMississippiGiftCompany.com.

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Area songwriters invited to enter bicentennial contest

Dispatch Staff Report

July 22, 2017

 

In celebration of Mississippi's bicentennial, Main Street Columbus and the Columbus Arts Council present the Mississippi Bicentennial Songwriting Contest. Golden Triangle songwriters in Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay Counties are invited to enter by an Aug. 31 deadline to vie for cash prizes. There is no cost to enter. 

 

Amateur and professional contestants at least 16 years of age are encouraged to submit original songs celebrating the Magnolia State. No recordings are necessary to enter; all judging will be of live performance. Songs should be no longer than five minutes and may have multiple cowriters, but only one name should be designated on the entry. One entry per songwriter or songwriting team is allowed.  

 

The first round of live performance judging will be for a panel of five judges only (no audience) on Friday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Eight finalists will be invited to perform in a second round free public concert Tuesday, Oct. 10 in the Trotter Convention Center Courtyard beginning at 5:30 p.m. No more than two people can be on stage during a performance. Songs will be judged on melody, composition, originality and lyrics. Winners will be announced Oct. 10. Prizes are $300 first place, $200 second place and $100 for third place. 

 

This event, an official bicentennial project, is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority. Bicentennial project sponsors also include Visit Columbus, Mississippi Arts Commission, The Dispatch, Mississippi University for Women Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy and an anonymous donor's gift in memory of Lilla Pratt Rosamond and John Brown. 

 

For more information and contest rules, contact Main Street Columbus, 662-328-6305 or visit columbus-arts.org.


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Regional Conference To Be Held in Gulfport

Destination Downtown’s General and Exhibitor Registration is Open

 

GULFPORT, MISS. July 20, 2017— Registration is now open for community members and professionals to attend the regional conference known as Destination Downtown that will be held in Gulfport, Sept. 11-13.

 

"Anyone interested in downtown development should attend Destination Downtown,” said Jeannie Zieren, MMSA Director of Training and Information Services. “We have tours and sessions to show the progress in Gulfport and other Main Street communities on the Mississippi coast. Sessions will provide training and ‘how-to’ tools for community leaders who want to take their downtown to the next level. We will hear inspiring stories, see successful case studies and meet other professionals who are blazing the trail in downtown revitalization today.”

 

The conference attracts more than 200 professionals in preservation-based historic commercial district revitalization. The theme of this year’s conference is “Leadership Development.”

 

Attendees can expect many conference sessions that will focus on examples of exemplary leadership as well as the tools to attract and develop leaders within the Main Street network.

 

There is an Early Bird Price at $125 if registered by Aug. 14. After Aug. 14., registration will cost $150 for Main Street members and $200 for non-members.

 

Exhibitor registration is $200 for MMSA members and $400 for non-members and the deadline to register is Aug. 4.

 

For more information about Destination Downtown or to register online, visit https://form.jotform.us/71866777318169. For exhibitor registration, visit https://form.jotform.us/71975400273153. For any further questions, call 601-944-0113.

 

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About Mississippi Main Street Association 

 

As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, Mississippi Main Street Association is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.

 

MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to 55 Main Street communities and network members in the state. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $5 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.


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OUR OPINION: Organizations, individuals deserve credit for community work
Daily Journal

The work to revitalize, enhance and promote communities across Mississippi is often done by dedicated community leaders whose efforts can easily go unheralded.

These leaders work mostly behind the scenes in cities and towns throughout our state to make sure that both residents and visitors alike have a significant level of quality of life in terms of resources, events and a number of other items.

The reality is that the success of communities across our state, and certainly of those throughout Northeast Mississippi, relies on talented and devoted people who care about the work they do.

Thankfully, not all of their work has to go unnoticed.

Last week, many of those leaders, as well as the projects they have invested time and energy into, were recognized on the state level at the Mississippi Main Street Association’s annual awards program.

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.

MMSA has 50 active Main Street cities throughout the state, seven Downtown Network members, and numerous Associate, Allied professional members and Friends of Main Street.

The awards and their winners, program/town and recipient in Northeast Mississippi are:

  • Outstanding Community Education Campaign: Bicycle Sculpture Project, Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Assoc., Dr. Lee Waltress.
  • Outstanding Creative Fundraiser: West Point Pickers, West Point Main Street, Lisa Klutts.
  • Creative New Event: Night Market; Starkville Main Street Association, Jennifer Prather.
  • Outstanding Public Improvement Project: 1st Choice Bank Gateway on the Trail, Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Assoc., Mayor Jeff Stafford.
  • Outstanding New Business: The Thirsty Devil, Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, Debbie Brangenberg.
  • Outstanding Community Transformation: Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail, Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, Debbie Brangenberg.
  • Main Street Hero: Sam Jaynes, Aberdeen Main Street; Dr. Miriam Clark, Pontotoc County Chamber of Commerce/Main Street Assoc.; The Reed Family, Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.
  • Main Street Trailblazer: Kristen Stevens, West Point Main Street.

The collection of awards listed above represents weeks, months and, in some cases, years of work by community leaders and involved residents.

Recognition for the work on the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail is a perfect example of a community-wide effort that took years – 11 to be exact – to accomplish.

The $11.5 million-project was funded by the City of Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Program and a $2.3 million transportation enhancement grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Apart from its primary mission of connecting downtown Tupelo to the Elvis Presley Birthplace, the project also sought to transform portions of Main Street into a more pedestrian-friendly area with the hopes of increasing commerce for retail businesses and restaurants.

All the organizations and individuals honored last week deserve a standing ovation for the work they’ve done to benefit our communities. It’s because of people like you that Northeast Mississippi continues to be such a vibrant part of our state.


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NEW MEMBER, OFFICERS ELECTED TO MISS. MAIN STREET BOARD OF DIRECTORS

JACKSON, Miss. -- A new member and a new slate of executive officers have been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors. The new member and officers were elected at the recent annual awards meeting held in Jackson.


Steven B. Dick, Economic Development Manager for Mississippi Power, was elected as a new member of the state board.


As Economic Development Manager, Dick is responsible for providing growth opportunities through the location and expansion of business and industry as well as project management in Southeast Mississippi. Additionally, he oversees a staff responsible for acting as the regional development organization for South Mississippi, working with local and state economic developers to promote the communities for which Mississippi Power serves, and advising senior management on statewide, domestic and global issues to help shape policies, practices and initiatives that impact economic development.


Before joining Mississippi Power in 2012, Dick was a practicing attorney for more than 12 years. While in private practice, he worked in offices across the coast and served as the Board Attorney for the Biloxi Planning Commission and the Biloxi Building Board of Adjustments and Appeals. Dick is a recognized business and community leader and presently serves on the board of directors for the Innovation Center Foundation, Biloxi Excel By 5 Coalition, and Biloxi Rotary.


The newly-elected MMSA executive officers are: President Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development in Gulfport; President-elect Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi in Jackson; Treasurer Kevin Stafford, Neel-Schaffer, Inc. in Columbus; and Past President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank in Tupelo.

The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. Remaining members of the 2017 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:


Chris Chain, Renovations of Mississippi, Inc.; Kagan Coughlin, Base Camp Coding Academy; Tara Lytal, Main Street Clinton; Russell Baty, The Main Street Chamber of Leake County; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Katie Blount and Michelle Jones, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Glenn McCullough and Sonny Thomas, Mississippi Development Authority; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; and Leah Kemp, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University.
 


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Mississippi Communities Receive 2017 National Accreditation from Main Street America


JACKSON, Miss. (June 21, 2017) -- The following Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) members in Mississippi have been designated as Accredited Main Street America™ programs for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center:


Aberdeen, Amory, Baldwyn, Batesville, Belhaven, Biloxi, Booneville, Canton, Carthage/Leake County, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbus, Corinth, Crystal Springs, Greenville, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Holly Springs, Indianola, Kosciusko, Laurel, Louisville/Noxapater, Meridian, New Albany, Ocean Springs, Okolona, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Philadelphia,  Picayune, Pontotoc County, Ripley, Saltillo, Senatobia, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West Point and Woodville.

 

In addition, Houston and Port Gibson earned Affiliate status this year. Affiliate programs have demonstrated a commitment to the comprehensive community revitalization and are on the pathway to achieving meaningful economic, social, physical and organizational improvements in their downtown or commercial districts.


Each year, the National Main Street Center and its Coordinating Program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.


“It is a great honor to recognize this year’s 828 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs for their outstanding work to transform downtown and neighborhood commercial districts,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Main Streets are the heart of our communities, and the work they do to create quality public spaces, catalyze local entrepreneurship, and support downtown housing is more important than ever."


"Across the country, Main Street America programs truly strengthen the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their entire communities,” Frey said.


Each Main Street organization’s performance is annually evaluated by the Mississippi Main Street Association, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet 10 performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.


Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated more than $5 billion in private and public investment, including more than $1.2 billion in public investment.



In 2016, Mississippi Main Street programs generated 234 net new businesses, 68 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,811 net new jobs, 104 façade rehabilitations and 366 downtown residential units.


 
MMSA currently has 50 active Main Street cities throughout the state, seven Downtown Network members, and numerous Associate, Allied professional members, and Friends of Main Street.

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As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, MMSA is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. MMSA partners with the Mississippi Development Authority and many private investors in the state. MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to its Main Street communities. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.



Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $71.35 billion in new public and private investment, generated 583,869 net new jobs and 131,974 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 267,800 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Nationally Accredited

Announcing the 2017 Accredited and Affiliate Main Street America Communities

By National Main Street Center | From Main Street Story of the Week | June 2, 2017 |

2017 Accredited and Affiliate

Congratulations to all 828 Main Street America™ communities that earned national accreditation this year! The Main Street America accreditation process evaluates local Main Street programs according to 10 performance standards and provides national recognition to those that meet these standards. We also congratulate the 256 Main Street America communities that earned official Affiliate status.

List of Nationally Accredited programs in Mississippi

List of Affiliate programs in Mississippi


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Ocean Springs Chamber Unveils New Culinary Passport Program for Locals and Travelers


(Ocean Springs, MS) - Visit the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau’s Visitor Center for a guide to town, a walking map and a Culinary Passport to
experience some of the finest food and drink the Mississippi Gulf Coast has to offer.

 

With more than 100 places to eat and drink at in Ocean Springs, the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau has created a Culinary Trail Passport to help locals and visitors find their way through the variety of tasty places throughout town.

 

The Ocean Springs Culinary Passport is a culinary trail to help you discover the many dining and nightlife experiences of our vibrant town. From strolling along the downtown streets lined with historic live oaks hopping from one establishment to the next, enjoying live music, or indulging in the local seafood, tradition cuisine, tapas or cultural snacks and meals, Ocean Springs has you covered.

 

“This program was created to help provide our local restaurants and nightlife establishments more exposure”, says Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. “And, as a reward for having locals and travelers visit our restaurants, they get the opportunity to be rewarded with prizes throughout the year.”

 

Stop by the Ocean Springs Chamber Visitor Center located at 1000 Washington Avenue and grab an Ocean Springs Culinary Passport. Then, visit 10 participating restaurants and bars in Ocean Springs spending a minimum of $10 at each throughout the year, week or weekend. Have the server stamp your passport per visit. Collect 10 stamps from 10 different participating restaurants. When complete, drop off the passport to the Ocean Springs Chamber office to receive a free gift for dining with us in Ocean Springs. Passport holders who complete all requirements will also be entered for food related drawings throughout the year. Visit www.oceanspringschamber.com/culinarypassport for a complete list of participants.


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MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET ANNOUNCES  2017 AWARD WINNERS
 
June 15, 2017 - JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 28th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson.
 
The presentation of awards was made by MMSA Board President Allison Beasley, MMSA Past President Suzanne Smith and staff.

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.
 
List of 2017 Award Recipients
 
"This is the Mississippi Main Street Association’s most important event of the year," said Allison Beasley, MMSA President. "It gives us an opportunity to meet with and celebrate the local directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive, successful and sustainable."

"We are thrilled to honor our economic development and preservation heroes in Mississippi's downtowns," Beasley said.
 
Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated more than $5 billion in private and public investment (including more than $1.2 billion in public investment).

In 2016, Mississippi Main Street programs generated 234 net new businesses, 68 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,811 net new jobs, 104 facade rehabilitations and 366 downtown residential units.
 
MMSA currently has 50 active Main Street cities throughout the state, seven Downtown Network members, and numerous Associate, Allied professional members, and Friends of Main Street.

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As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, MMSA is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. MMSA partners with the Mississippi Development Authority and many private investors in the state.

MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to 57 Main Street communities and network members in the state. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $5 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.

 


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The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) will celebrate the achievements of Mississippi Main Street communities and member towns at its Annual Awards Meeting and luncheon on Thursday, June 15 at the Old Capitol Inn in downtown Jackson.
 
The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. followed by the annual meeting and awards ceremony.

During the luncheon, a presentation of awards will be made in the categories of design, economic vitality, organization and promotion, as well as special individual awards.

"This is the Mississippi Main Street Association’s most important event of the year," said Suzanne Smith, MMSA President. "It gives us an opportunity to meet with and celebrate the local directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive, successful and sustainable."

"We are so excited to be able to honor our economic development and preservation heroes in Mississippi's downtowns," Smith said.

The awards presentation will be made by MMSA staff and board members. The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and other volunteer leaders and recognizes the most outstanding nominees in downtown development from Main Street communities in Mississippi.

Before the Annual Awards Meeting, a preservation training will be held from 8:30-11 a.m. at the William Winter Archives and History Building. The training is geared to Main Street directors and members but it also open to anyone interested in downtown revitalization.

Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated more than $5 billion in private and public investment (including more than $1.2 billion in public investment).

In 2016, Mississippi Main Street programs generated 234 net new businesses, 68 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,811 net new jobs, 104 facade rehabilitations and 366 downtown residential units.
 
MMSA currently has 50 active Main Street cities throughout the state, seven Downtown Network members, and numerous Associate, Allied professional members, and Friends of Main Street.

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As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, MMSA is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. MMSA partners with the Mississippi Development Authority and many private investors in the state.

MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to 57 Main Street communities and network members in the state. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $5 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.


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Charleston, Miss. joins MS Main Street Network

CHARLESTON, Miss. -- On Tuesday, May 23, the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) recognized the city of Charleston, Miss., as a Downtown Network Member of the statewide association.
 
Mayor Sedric Smith, the City of Charleston and leaders in the community from diverse backgrounds came together to act as a steering committee and apply for membership in the Mississippi Main Street Downtown Network. The MMSA Board of Directors unanimously approved the application earlier this month.

"We believe that Charleston is an amazing community with a lot of opportunity and potential to capitalize on things we haven't yet," said Catherine Woodyard, Executive Director of the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center at the Tallahatchie General Hospital. "We feel membership to Main Street will provide us with the push we need to really bring economic development and downtown revitalization."

"We hope to improve our town's aesthetics, bring in new businesses, grow our tourism industry - especially as it relates to hunting and fishing, and offer more community events for residents and visitors to enjoy and embrace," Woodyard said.

The MMSA Downtown Network membership affords the town training and technical services from MMSA with the opportunity to progress to the Certified Main Street Membership within three years.

Jan Miller, MMSA Director of Field Services, presented the City of Charleston and members of the Charleston Main Street committee with a certificate and welcomed the community into the Mississippi Main Street Network.

"We are so impressed with the momentum in downtown revitalization in Charleston and could not be happier to welcome them into the Mississippi Main Street family," Miller said. "They have so much local support and are ready to get to work!"

As a Downtown Network Member of MMSA, Charleston is also joining the National Main Street Center as an Affiliate Member. MMSA is a coordinating state progam of the National Main Street Center and every local Main Street program in Mississippi is required to be a member for nationally accredited or affiliate status.

Charleston is located in Tallahatchie County along with four other towns, Glendora Village, Sumner, Tutwiler and Webb. Founded in 1833, the county is 80 percent rural and is one of 10 counties in Mississippi to have two county seats, Charleston and Sumner. According to the US Census Bureau, the county’s total population is 15,378. Charleston was the first county seat, and Sumner was organized later in 1872.
Charleston was founded in 1837, but its history antedates that. Known as the “Gateway to the Delta,” and loved by all who stumble upon her, Charleston is 1.4 square miles, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and is home to 2,198 residents. The city has a quaint, charming town square and is surrounded by thousands of acres of beautiful land used for agriculture.
 


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GULFPORT MAIN STREET WINS NATIONAL INNOVATION AWARD FOR FISHBONE ALLEY


The Gulfport Main Street Association Wins ‘Innovation on Main Street’ Award for Fishbone Alley  


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (May 3, 2017) — The National Main Street Center announced today the winners of its annual “Innovation on Main Street” awards, including Gulfport Main Street Association for their measurable involvement in the Fishbone Alley project.


The Innovation Award recognizes Main Street America programs for successful, sustainable initiatives that represent new approaches to an existing downtown revitalization challenge or opportunity. Awards were announced as part of the Main Street Now Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 3, 2017.


“This award exemplifies what Main Street is all about – creativity, ingenuity, and savvy use of resources,” says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “So much of what we do in Main Street is about changing attitudes about what’s possible. The transformation of Fishbone Alley does just that – it proves the potential of public space to bring community together and enliven a downtown.”



Only four programs received awards at the national conference that drew approximately 1,600 attendees representing 45 states and 1,600 Main Street programs.



“The quality of life and community involvement in Gulfport is growing in very exciting ways,” said Laurie Toups, director of Gulfport Main Street Association. “From the newest addition of Fishbone Alley - brainchild of David Parker, City of Gulfport’s Economic Development Director - to the restoration of numerous properties in downtown, Gulfport has a lot to offer!”


 
“Winning the National Award for Innovation on Main Street proves to us that we are moving in the right direction," Toups said. "We could not be more honored than to be recognized among our peers from all over the country. We submitted the Fishbone Alley project to show that you can think outside the “block” and utilize what you have to create something unique - something your community can embrace.”



The Gulfport Main Street Association applied for the award, and the Mississippi Main Street Association recommended the project. The nomination included a history of the Fishbone Alley project as well as historical and before and after pictures of the alley.


 
The Fishbone Alley “Urban Living Room” project in an inspiring example of the power of Main Street to transform downtowns and rally communities. Gulfport Main Street Association helped to turn an underused, unattractive alley right in the middle of the downtown district into a vibrant public space, featuring century-old brick pavers, public art, and enchanting lighting.



The grand opening in 2016 drew thousands of locals and visitors alike who wanted to experience the essence of this “urban living room” – a space unlike any other on the Gulf Coast or the state of Mississippi.    

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About the Mississippi Main Street Association:

As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, Mississippi Main Street Association is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.



MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to 55 Main Street communities and network members in the state. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $5 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.



About the National Main Street Center:
Over the past 35 years, the National Main Street Center has been leading a national network of coordinating partners and over 2,000 local historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts known collectively as Main Street America™ – all sharing a commitment to preservation-based community revitalization. Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered an incremental, volunteer-driven strategy to help downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts. Today, as an independent subsidiary of the National Trust, the Center continues to build on its three-decade record of success, with new leadership and added resources to help communities bring new life, vitality, and continued investment to their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. More information on the program is online at: http://www.mainstreet.org/.


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A familiar face at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership (GSDP) will be assuming a new role.

 

Jennifer Prather - who has been with the GSDP since 2013 - has been tapped for the role of Interim Director of Tourism. Prather originally joined the GSDP as Special Events and Projects Coordinator, before assuming the role of Starkville Community Market Manager.

 

The position was left vacant when former GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory resigned in October. Gregory also served as Vice President for Tourism and director of Main Street Starkville. When Gregory resigned, the job for all intents and purposes was left vacant, requiring some reshuffling of staff. Director of Membership Development Heath Barret was named Interim CEO and now Prather will fill the remaining roles once occupied by Gregory.

 

"I look forward to the future of the partnership under the director of a new CEO and opportunity that lie for myself in the organization," Prather said.

 

“I’m honored and appreciative of the trust that the GSDP Board has placed in me to oversee the CVB/Main Street in the interim,” Prather said. “I am proud of Starkville and look forward to further contributing to the good work that our team is doing in the community.”

 

Barret also spoke to Prather’s success with promoting Starkville through many events associated with the CVB and Starkville Main Street.

 

“We are excited for her and look forward to many more opportunities that lie ahead that bring tourists to our city under her direction,” Barret said.

 

- See more at: http://starkvilledailynews.com/content/gsdp%E2%80%99s-prather-named-interim-director-tourism#sthash.mKyY9CTs.dpuf

 

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On Thursday, April 20, the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) recognized the town of Byhalia, Miss., as a Downtown Network Member of the statewide association.


 
The Town of Byhalia and the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) had the opportunity to apply for the Mississippi Downtown Network Membership, and the MMSA Board of Directors unanimously approved the application.



"The Town of Byhalia Aldermen joined me by approving to submit an application for the Downtown Network Membership with the Mississippi Main Street Association," said Mayor Phil Malone, Mayor of Byhalia. "We are motivated after being aware of the benefits of the Main Street program through the Mississippi Municipal League, Mississippi Development Authority, and the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce as well as from the Mississippi towns and cities participating in the program."



"We appointed a Byhalia Advisory Council in 2015 to address many of the issues and resources needed to improve the downtown area and the scope of development for the town. After struggling with the approach and the communication of the need to our community, I suggested we look to Mississippi Main Street," Malone said. “My long term goals are to expand to become a Certified Main Street Community and expand the efforts, growth and development to the major interchanges of Highway I-69 at Highway 309 and to Highway I-22 at Highway 309."



Byhalia has been an Associate Member of MMSA since 1998. In 2011, Byhalia received a Vision Plan Charrette from MMSA with grant funding provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission.  The Downtown Network membership affords the town more services from MMSA with the opportunity to progress to the Certified Main Street Membership within three years.



“After we revisit the Vision Plan from the charrette in 2011, I see Byhalia being a destination for the region with the development of the Old School Commons, the parks, and the downtown area," Malone added.



Jeannie Waller Zieren, MMSA Director of Training and Information Services, presented the town with a certificate at the BACC Membership Luncheon held at The Flame/Byhalia United Methodist Church on April 20 and welcomed the community into the Mississippi Main Street network.



"As a Downtown Network Member of MMSA, Byhalia is also joining Main Street America as an Affiliate Member. Our greatest strength is the network we provide with other local, state and national programs. We are impressed with the momentum in Byhalia and believe their membership in the state and national Main Street programs will only serve to further their momentum and success," Zieren said.


 
“I applaud Mayor Malone and the Aldermen for having the vision to move forward with the Four Point Approach of Main Street," said Sarah Sawyer, Executive Director of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce. "Byhalia and the Marshall County Area has the greatest potential to be one of the best in the region. We plan to focus on the strengths and work on the weaknesses.”  


“With the BACC, the goals and objectives are in place to take Main Street and merge it with these efforts and plans. I appreciate the Chamber Board of Directors and the Byhalia Advisory Council for staying the course and having the dedication to work for a better place,” Sawyer said.


“The people are the biggest asset. With a Vision Plan to identify issues, direction and resources, the people will come together. Communication is key to any new program, idea or plan but mainly, pride in what we have to share with others.”

 


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Awards Presented at Ocean Springs' Annual Meeting

 

(Ocean Springs, MS) - Each year Ocean Springs recognizing businesses and individuals who have made
an impact within the community. This year’s awards were presented during the Ocean Springs
Chamber’s Annual Meeting held on Thursday, March 2 at Gulf Hills Hotel & Conference Center.


Awards were given in the following categories: Volunteer of the Year, The Joseph F. Tinney Award “The
Worker”, Community Leader Award, First Responder of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Retailer of the
Year, Main Street Award, and 2016 President Appreciation Award. Awards recognize achievements for
the 2016 calendar year.


Volunteer of the Year went to Moon Sinnokrot. The Joseph F. Tinney Award “The Worker” was
presented to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27 U.S. Navy. Community Leader of the Year went to
Chic Cody. First Responder of the Year was presented to Officer Adam Carter with the Ocean Springs
Police Department. Restaurant of the Year went to The Froghead Grill. Retailer of the Year was
presented to owner Traci James with It’s All Arranged Consignment Boutique. Main Street Award went
to owner Jennifer Gladden of Lola Fleur Catering & Market. The 2016 President Appreciation Award
went to Brad Cates with Mississippi Power.


“These awards are a small token of our appreciation and recognition for what all our volunteers,
businesses and community leaders do for the community of Ocean Springs,” said Cynthia Sutton,
executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau.


The banquet was hosted by the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau and
sponsored by Bacot McCarty, Blossman Gas, Charter Bank, Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, Coldwell
Banker Alfonso, F.E.B. Distributing Company, Fort Bayou Wine & Spirits, Gulf Hills Hotel &
Conference Center, Hancock Bank, Keesler Federal Credit Union, M&M Bank, Mississippi Power, The
Peoples Bank and USM—Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.


Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau is a non-profit organization
representing nearly 500 business members with a mission to promote tourism, provide progressive
leadership for economic and community vitality for the greater Ocean Springs, Jackson County area and
gulf coast and to enhance local culture and preserve quality of life through planned growth,
diversification and beautification.


For more information on the awards or the event, please contact the Ocean Springs Chamber of
Commerce – Main Street – Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424.


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Back Stage Pass Grand Prize Winners Chosen at Annual Conference; Two Winners Chosen in a Drawing



JACKSON, Miss. — Wayne Andrews of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC) in Oxford and Dora Glover of the Action Communication and Education Reform, Inc. (ACER) in Duck Hill have been announced as this year’s Back Stage Pass conference $1,500 grand prize winners.


The conference and grand prize drawings were sponsored by the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA), Mississippi Arts Commission and Visit Mississippi. 


Back Stage Pass was held in Vicksburg, Miss. on Jan. 26 and 27 where the winners were chosen during the closing session from attendees at the conference. 




“The bottom line goal is educating attendees on how to produce meaningful, authentic events that boost the local economy, attract visitors and provide community residents with quality of life programs,” says Jeannie W. Zieren, director of training and information services at Mississippi Main Street Association.



Throughout the conference, to be eligible for the grand prize drawings, attendees attended the Mississippi Artist Showcase, where six Mississippi Roster Artists performed, and had every exhibitor at Back Stage Pass sign their program. Once completed, the signed programs were divided into two stacks and a winner was randomly chosen from the “small town” stack as well as the “large town” stack.


“We are excited as it will support a new project we are doing to promote partnerships between arts and cultural groups across the state,” Wayne Andrews, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council Director said. “Back Stage Pass is a great chance for organizations like YAC to step outside our community, learn from others, and explore the depth of talent in our state.”


-END-


Mississippi Main Street Association is a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program and our mission is to provide education and technical assistance to member towns, which focuses on issues embraced by the Four Point Approach of Main Street - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality – that are designed to match resources available in their communities. Currently, MMSA has 50 Main Street Member Communities, five Downtown Network Communities as well as numerous Association Members, Allied Members, and Friends of Main Street. By utilizing MMSA’s expertise, resources and technical assistance, once badly deteriorating downtowns are becoming vibrant and viable, and are taking their rightful place as the heart, center and core of their communities. For more opportunities and information on events like Back Stage Pass, visit msmainstreet.com.

By: Lindsey Edwards


How a Rural Mississippi Town created a new Local Economy to Rebuild its Main Street

Ten years ago, Water Valley, Mississippi had fallen on hard times. Today, there's a brewery, a restaurant—even a coding school.

 

By Adele Peters

Fast Company

 

When Kagan Coughlin and Alexe van Beuren first visited Water Valley, Mississippi a decade ago, the majority of the storefronts on the small town's Main Street were empty. But the couple was charmed by the people they met; inside an old soda fountain, a fourth-generation business owner made them a milkshake, chatted for half an hour, and hugged them when they left. They decided to move to town.

 

They became part of a small group of people who have helped rebuild Main Street. A former machine shop is now a brewery. A drugstore is an art gallery. A service station became a restaurant.

 

Coughlin and van Beuren bought an old department store and turned it into a grocery store, cafe, and apartments. They later bought five more vacant buildings, fully remodeled them, and leased them out to new local businesses. In 2016, they added a free coding school for local students to the former department store.

 

All of this is possible partly because real estate there is very affordable; old commercial or industrial buildings in need of a lot of work can go for as little as $10-$12 a square foot.

 

"The entry level price is pretty cheap," says Mickey Howley, who bought an empty storefront with his wife in 2002, and turned it into an art gallery. "Here, if you want to do something creative, you can really get in on the ground floor and own a building . . . if you have a place where you can pay for it even if it's not doing that great, you can push that creative direction a little bit more. It's kind of economic freedom that these small towns still have."

 

With enough people doing the same thing—a group of around 20, in a town of 3,350—the small downtown revitalized. About 30 historic commercial buildings, out of around 100, have been renovated.

 

"I think the biggest thing that has changed here is the attitude about what's possible," says Howley. "I think there's really a can-do spirit and we're going to do it ourselves. If you wait for someone to help you, it will never happen."

 

While the businesses aren't wildly profitable, the town sustains them. Coughlin says it's a different sense of what "success" means than in most of the country.

 

"I grew up in New England, and I spent a fair amount of time on picket lines with my father outside the machine tool shops that he worked in," says Coughlin. "I remember the first time he explained to me that a company could be functioning and could employ, full-time, 100 people who were supporting 100 families, who were consuming and paying taxes and supporting a town, but by the metric of the investors, if they didn’t make more than that, they were a failure. I think if you had anybody who was trying to take money out of this town, there is no money really to go anywhere. But if you have someone who's living here, and we are, all of our endeavors, they support our life."

You won't see a Main Street business owner with the latest iPhone, or a fancy car, and they don't go on expensive vacations. "But they're buying their kids clothes for school," says Coughlin. "If a band comes through town, they have their $10 to get in. It's just different priorities. If you backed up 50 or 80 years, then this is a fully functioning economy."

 

Now, some of the renovators are beginning to focus on education. "We're kind of running out of stuff to fix up now," says Howley. Coughlin, who quit a tech job in nearby Oxford, Mississippi, to work on Main Street, helped start the new coding school, Base Camp Coding Academy.

 

"There's a lot of bright, really good-hearted kids in Mississippi that have nothing around them like they would if they were on one of the coasts," he says. "The opportunities just very rarely trickle this far into the mainland."

 

Another project is turning an empty building into an art school and studio space. "We want to take the kids here and give them the intellectual or creative opportunities that they have not had—they had to go elsewhere to get if they wanted that," says Howley. "We've already done the economic fix stuff, that's on a roll, and the old houses, and now it's like, okay, what do we do for kids and keep it going?"

 

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Photo: via Mickey Howley; 02 / Photo: via Mickey Howley; 03 / Photo: via Mickey Howley;

 


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New Main Street Director named in New Albany

NEW ALBANY, Miss (WTVA)—Main Street in downtown New Albany is buzzing with excitement. 

 

After a month long search, the New Albany Main Street Association names a new director.

 

"She is very organized and detail and not afraid of getting out in front of the public solicit new members look for ways we can improve our organization," said Bob Spencer, New Albany Main Street Association President.

 

Billye Jean Stroud.  The New Albany native brings a wealth of business experience to the table. 

 

"Billye Jean has been successful in her previous jobs and worked for some national financial institutions," said Stroud.

 

Downtown business owners along the bustling Main Street are excited with the Main Street Association’s choice. 

 

"Billye Jean’s got a great personality a lot of energy.  I think she’ll be great, build great relationships with the downtown business owners and be strong for the future of the main street organization," said Travis Wiseman, Union Appliance and Furniture Owner.

 

"I am really excited because Miss Stroud is coming in. Miss Stroud is coming in to a town that’s on the cusp of beginning to take off," said Mike Carroll, Ciao Chow Co-Owner.

 

New Albany’s downtown has grown with new restaurants, new boutiques as well as apartments.  Main Street leaders hope Billye Jean Stroud can build on the foundation it has already built.

 

"She is aware of how to use technology that seems really to be a key to reaching out and we want to spotlight our individual businesses and members, through that media and hope to promote things that are going on downtown," said Spencer.

 

So that New Albany’s downtown, which is the heart of the community, will continue to thrive and stand out from the rest. 

 

Stroud begins her new stint on Monday.


The Big Idea For Rural America: Think Small?

By Coner Sen

AgWeb

By Bloomberg

There's a common sentiment, especially among people who remember the halcyon mid-century, that the middle class and middle America have been hollowed by globalization. That may be true. If so, it's great news for younger Americans—because thanks to those same forces of globalization, the hollowed-out communities in the middle of the country are now attractive places to build a life.

 

For those who got to enjoy their high wages, factory towns surely provided a lot of economic benefits. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can see how unsustainable the whole relationship was. The factories and their manufacturing jobs were the only reason the towns existed. Without the factories there wasn't enough economic activity to sustain the towns, and workers with options moved elsewhere.

 

Because of how painful the transition costs have been for a large number of communities, it can be hard to see what opportunities now exist in some of these places. This story about Water Valley, Mississippi, can shed some light on one possibility. Water Valley's population peaked in 1920, so its development was shaped before the post-war era governed by sprawl and the automobile. Its historic Main Street was dilapidated but still existed.

 

Importantly, land was cheap. Dirt cheap. While annual office rents in high-flying metro areas like the San Francisco Bay Area can go for over $100 a square foot, with buildings selling for well over $1,000 per square foot, on Water Valley's Main Street dilapidated old buildings could be bought for as low as $8 per square foot. It took only around 20 of Water Valley's residents to have a big impact on turning around the community's historic district by renovating around 30 of its 100 historic commercial buildings.

 

While small towns may have lost their well-paying factory jobs to automation and outsourcing, they now exist as potential cheap platforms for globalization. What sustained these communities used to be high wages. Today, the opportunity is ultra-cheap consumption and production.

 

Someone can open a coffee shop importing the best coffee beans from around the country or the world. Craft breweries have always preferred to set up shop where the land is cheap rather than in sparkling expensive urban downtowns. Entrepreneurs in agrarian communities can coordinate with local farmers to create local food markets and restaurants. Residents can organize and elect competent, forward-thinking leaders; it's amazing what a good mayor and a handful of city council members or county commissioners can do. Ideas for redevelopment, planning and governance have never been more readily shared and perfected than they are now in this online era. Investing oneself in a small community earning not much money seems no crazier than working 80-hour weeks in a big city earning a lot of money but paying it all toward rent and child care.

 

Too often in America we look for grand-scale catalysts to fix big problems, and we give short shrift to iterative improvements. There doesn't always have to be a single big idea that revolutionizes a local economy—a new factory or a corporate relocation or a streetcar or the next billion-dollar internet company. What kept the lights on in urban America during their low point in the 1970s wasn't Google offices or brunch spots offering $6 avocado toast; it was immigrant-run convenience stores and bodegas selling cheap goods. Maybe the way to bring back smaller communities isn't waiting for a hero, but rather making countless small improvements and building on the assets already in place.

 

Cheap land and labor. All of the distribution tools of the internet. A handful of residents ready to make their communities better. And hundreds and hundreds of incremental improvements. That's what will get small-town America back on track, not yearning for the past or blaming foreigners.

 


Home Place Pastures celebrates grand opening of USDA-inspected meat processing plant and retail butcher shop


Only plant in north Mississippi, set to change local food economy

February 17, 2017 - Como, Miss. - Home Place Pastures located just East of Como, Mississippi, celebrates the grand opening of its meat processing plant and retail butcher shop with a public ribbon cutting to be held Friday March 10, 2017 at noon.

The only USDA-inspected meat processing plant located in north Mississippi and one of only a handful of plants in the entire Southeast region, Home Place Pastures now offers custom butchering for beef, pork and lamb in the 7,200-square-foot plant.


When co-founder and President Marshall Bartlett started the business in 2014 with his brother Jemison Bartlett, CFO, on his family’s land, he envisioned building an operation that mirrored his own ethical on-farm practices. His passion centers on promoting Mississippi’s own rich food culture by raising pastured beef, pork and lamb and employing “whole animal utilization” practices.
In just three short years, Marshall has developed relationships with some of the South’s top chefs and restaurants from Memphis to New Orleans while holding on-farm events, hands-on boucherie demonstrations and building a direct-sales market to more than 75 restaurants.


Ever loyal to the local landscape where he was raised on the fifth generation farm, Marshall’s vision includes more than food.


“Through this business, I want to bolster our rural economy by circulating money through local businesses, supporting local farms, and creating jobs,” he says.
Working closely with the USDA and Mississippi State University on the plant design, Home Place Pastures’ comprehensive long-term plan also includes slaughter facilities to open in summer 2017. According to sources ,the new plant has far-reaching positive implications for producers and farmers.


"If you ask any meat producer selling locally what their biggest hurdle is, they'll likely say getting their animals processed. If those farmers are selling certified organic meat or poultry, the challenge is ever greater. New facilities like this one in Como are a major step toward help growing Mississippi's local food economy. An expansion of our state's processing capacity will ensure accessibility and availability of those products while increasing farmer profits and allowing them to reach multiple markets,” says Daniel Doyle, executive director of the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network.


On March 10, distinguished speakers, guests and visitors will have the chance to sample Home Place products, meet Marshall, the Bartlett family and the Home Place staff, and shop the 450-square-foot retail store. Guests also have a chance to win a Home Place Pastures gift basket.


County and state officials will gather to help cut the ribbon during the event which is sponsored by the Como Main Street Alliance.
   
March 10, 2017: Noon to 3 pm
Home Place Pastures
1789 Home Place Road
Como, Mississippi 38619
http://www.homeplacepastures.com

About Home Place Pastures
Home Place Pastures, located on the Bartlett family’s fifth generation farm in Como, Mississippi is the only USDA-inspected meat processing plant in north Mississippi processing beef, lamb and pork. Founded by brothers Marshall and Jemison Bartlett in 2014, Home Place consists of a retail butcher shop and maintains a wholesale distribution network, providing high-quality meats to chefs and restaurants from Memphis to New Orleans. Dedicated to ethical on-farm practices and a return to “whole animal utilization”, Home Place plays an essential role in Mississippi’s rural food economy.








 

 


The Southeast Tourism Society has named Tupelo Elvis Festival as one of the STS Top 20 Event in the Southeast for June 2017.

 

The STS Top 20 Festival and Event Awards have highlighted programs around the Southeast since 1985. Travel industry experts select 20 events per month, and STS publicizes them throughout the United States. The complete list is published on two websites: EscapeToTheSoutheast.com and Travel Media Press Room.

 

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association will present the 19th annual Tupelo Elvis Festival June 1-4, 2017, in downtown Tupelo. The festival will celebrate Tupelo’s native son, Elvis Presley. Musical guests and genres influenced by Presley will be showcased at the BancorpSouth Arena and Fairpark stage. Ticket packages are on sale now at the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association’s office until the end of January. Individual tickets will go on sale in the middle of February. Fairpark entertainment will be announced in the following months.

 

“The Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Festival and Event list is an excellent guide for the Southeast’s visitors, residents and travel writers.  The events selected represent the best, and often most unique, activities in our region,” said Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society.

 

Events considered for the STS Top 20 recognition must be at least three years old and have attendance of at least 1,000. Nomination forms and deadlines are available at SoutheastTourism.org or by calling 770-542-1523.

 

STS, founded in 1983 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting tourism to and within 12 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

 


Downtown Laurel in bloom, thanks to young entrepreneurs

The Clarion-Ledger

Jacob Threadgill

 

The incandescent glow crisscrossing downtown Laurel emanates a unique history that is also as bright as the city’s future.

 

The city has been the financial center of Jones County since the expansion of the timber trade in the late 1890s, a trade that supported a bustling downtown and streetcars in the 1930s, strings of lights making iconic X’s above downtown.

 

The founding families of Laurel envisioned a city committed to the arts. Thomas Edison’s apprentice, William H. Mason, was brought to town and used Laurel’s wood pulp to develop a worldwide company, Masonite. The city's part was designed by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted's firm, and the city was home to the first high school for African Americans in Mississippi.

 

Much of that history was gone by the time the millennial generation came of age. Federal urban renewal policies tried to turn downtown into a pedestrian mall of sorts.

 

Over the last decade, Laurel's population has grown over 2 percent and momentum has poured into downtown, kick-started by the vision of a few millennial couples. It’s an energy that will be on display with the debut of the HGTV Series “Home Town” later this year.

 

Taking ownership of downtown

 

Jim Rasberry remembers standing on a downtown street corner in 2006 while talking to a friend and thinking, "what a cool downtown we have," but there wasn’t a car or a person nearby; it was a ghost town.

 

“Just the other day, there was a traffic jam on Oak Street and Magnolia,” said Rasberry, who, along with his wife, Mallorie, helped found the non-profit Laurel Main Street, along with their financial services company. Laurel Main Street is a 501c3 non-profit and fully accredited by state and national Main Street organizations. It is supported through memberships, private sponsorships, fundraising, the city of Laurel, the Jones County Board of Supervisors and the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, under the leadership of Executive Director Judi Holifield since 2011.

 

The Rasberrys, along with friends from Ole Miss — Josh and Emily Nowell and Erin and Ben Napier — made a leap of faith to renovate downtown buildings with loft apartments above retail space around 2006. The city is now home to 30 loft apartments, with a waiting list.

 

Other boutique retailers like the Knight Butcher, Sweet Something, J. Parker Reclaimed and Adam Trest Home have popped up, all owned by Laurel natives in their late 20s or early 30s.

 

Growing up in Laurel, Adam Trest heard stories about the once-bustling downtown while being indoctrinated in the city’s commitment to the arts. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art boasts one of the state’s finest collections and remains free to enter, thanks to the Eastman Memorial Foundation.

 

Trest took a love of oil and watercolor and turned it into a business. First he began selling artistic campus maps of Southern college campuses as a wholesaler, and then opened a store front in downtown Laurel eight months ago where his prints are displayed on home goods, in an old jewelry building renovated by Nowell’s Marcella Investment Group.

 

“It was inspiring when I came home from college in 2010 and seeing this passion from Jim, Mallorie, Erin and Ben that said, 'this is a really cool place, and we just need other people to see that,’” Trest said.

 

At Trest’s store, at J. Parker Reclaimed located next-door, and at a corner location that will become a restaurant serving blue-plate lunches, Nowell and his crew have worked to highlight the city’s past. Nowell describes the thrill of tearing out layers of carpet to find beautiful hardwood or hexagonal tile mosaics.

 

“People like us who grew up in the 1980s and '90s were captivated by the magic of (what) Laurel used to be,” Nowell said. “We can reclaim it and make it ours again.”

Making downtown great again

 

When the millennial generation grew up in Laurel, the city’s downtown was covered by an olive green canopy, which locals refer to with disdain as “the shed.” Spurred by federal urban renewal plans, Laurel and many cities across the country implemented plans designed to appeal to the indoor mall craze.

 

Beginning in 1976, $20 million was invested in urban renewal projects that fixed flooding issues and buried power lines. However, the city’s downtown was covered, Central Avenue was closed to traffic and historic buildings were torn down. Business owners abandoned the area.

 

“It was dark and ... the public thought people could be hiding behind the beams (of the canopy),” said former mayor Susan Vincent, whose first act as mayor in 1993 was to work to remove the covering.

 

Crews began tearing down the poles on a Friday, and by that Monday Vincent said “it looked like the sun had finally come to downtown.”

 

Vincent ended three terms as the city’s mayor in 2005, not long before the founding of Laurel Main Street, for which Vincent now serves on two boards.

 

“It makes me so happy to see what is happening downtown right now,” Vincent said. “Those three couples (the Rasberrys, Napiers and Nowells) have had vision and faith. People can have a negative attitude, but then a group believes and makes things happen, (and) everyone else starts believing, too.”

Makers drive the future 

 

The unofficial headquarters for the makers movement in town is the Laurel Mercantile Co., a joint venture by the Nowells, Napiers and Rasberrys. It's a store that sells goods and wares made entirely in the United States, with as much commitment to Mississippi as possible.

 

The Napiers' Scotsman brand can been seen on cotton shirts, and the hope is one day to be able to track each bale of cotton from a Mississippi field all the way to a finished product. Nowell and Napier are working to create an artist alleyway, a permanent place local craftsmen can display their goods, across the street.

 

Sitting across from an Amtrack stop and next to Laurel’s oldest business, Lott Furniture, the Mercantile welcomes visitors from across the country. Those visits will likely increase when “Home Town” makes its debut in the Spring.

 

“The show is going to open America’s eyes to what we’re doing here,” Ben Napier said. “Jim started Main Street 10 years ago, and it’s exciting to see the fruits of our labor.”

 

Napier, who stars in the renovation show with his wife, Erin, is a celebrity walking around downtown. Laurel native and Houston, Texas, resident Jennifer Whitten stops him for a photo.

 

“There wasn’t much to downtown (Laurel) growing up, but now it’s so nice and it’s awesome to see my friends and talk about the show,” Whitten said.

 

Over the last 12 months, Mallorie Rasberry said Laurel Main Street has facilitated the sale of 16 buildings downtown, more than were sold in the previous 10 years combined. The foundation relies largely on fundraising for four yearly events. Proceeds from 2016’s Touch a Truck helped fund the return of the crisscross lights to downtown.

 

“It’s a 10-year process for an overnight success,” Rasberry said.

 


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Downtown Tupelo Main Street Welcomes two new staff Members

 

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association (DTMSA) has named McKenzie Watkins and Sarah Stewart as their two new program associates. Their responsibilities include marketing for Downtown events, maintaining the presence of the online communication channels and assisting with event planning and execution.

 

Before joining the DTMSA, Stewart was employed by DIME Entertainment magazine as a marketing representative. She is a graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi where she studied advertising.

 

Watkins, a Tupelo native, is a recent graduate from Mississippi State University. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with a concentration in public relations.


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Tara Lytal, the director of Main Street Clinton in Clinton, Miss., has been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors.


Lytal has been elected by fellow MMSA local program directors for a special one-year term to fill a vacancy on the board and will serve through 2017.


A native of Clinton, Miss., Lytal was hired in 2007 as the first director of the Main Street Clinton program.  She holds two degrees from Mississippi College, a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and a master’s degree in Public Relations.


Lytal has been involved in numerous organizations in the community.  She is currently serving in her second term on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, she is a graduate of the Chamber’s Leadership Clinton Class of 1999, and she has served as President of both The Arts Council of Clinton and Junior Civic League.


With the help of many volunteers, Lytal has guided the Main Street Clinton program to 19 state awards for accomplishments in the Main Street districts and has received a personal award for Excellence in Main Street.


The MMSA Board provides two positions on the statewide board for Directors' Representatives. Each representative serves a two-year term and represents the 52 Main Street programs in Mississippi on the state level.


Lytal joins Russell Baty of the Main Street Chamber of Leake County who is serving as the 2017-2018 Directors' Representative on the board. Lytal will serve the remaining year of the two-year term held by the previous representative.

The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. The 2017 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:
Board President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development; Treasurer Ed Gardner, Entergy; Past President Mark Loughman, Mississippi Power; Matthew McLaughlin of McLaughlin P.C.; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Mayor Chip Johnson, City of Hernando; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Kevin Stafford, Neel-Schaffer; Kagan Coughlin, Base Camp Coding Academy; Chris Chain, Renovations of Mississippi, Inc., Russell Baty, The Main Street Chamber of Leake County; Tara Lytal, Main Street Clinton; Michelle Jones, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leland Speed, EastGroup/Parkway Properties; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leah Kemp, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University; and Joy Foy of the Mississippi Development Authority.
 

###


Own a piece of Greenwood History!  Main Street Greenwood will be accepting bids on the historic Antoon Department store on December 22, 2016 at 2 PM. This is the first property that is part of Main Street Greenwood's Revolving Real Estate Program. Properties that are incorporated into this program are donated to Main Street Greenwood, sold for a discounted rate with rehabilitation deadlines and guidelines, and money generated from the sale will go the purchase or rehabilitation of another building. 

Not a developer or real estate person? Help us get the word out about this property! We need your help to move it. Share, promote and spread the word! 

 


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WLBT Jackson



JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

 

The Mississippi Main Street Team describes Small Business Saturday as a special holiday for communities to show love to small businesses and shop local.

 

"During the winter months, we are producing six to eight hours a day," said Deep South Pops owner Jake Franklin.

 

Small businesses open and operating throughout the metro area and Franklin said the community can't operate without the locals.

 

"It's a vital piece to Jackson and every city really," said Franklin. "I think it brings an eclectic mix of interesting things. The people that live in these communities are interesting people with interesting products and ideas."

 

"You're not only supporting that business you are supporting jobs, you are supporting future growth," said Kristen Ley. "So, it's kind of a full circle thing."

 

Chic and elegant displays inside one of the oldest buildings in downtown Jackson showcase Ley's artwork. From her garage to her colorful store front, you can shop local at Thimblepress.

 

"When you spend with a local company you are giving money back to your own community. Every dollar you spend creates three dollars within your community. Most likely the small businesses you use are using local accountants, local lawyers, they are shopping locally for supplies," explained Ley. "So, I've always been a big proponent for in shopping small and shopping locally."

 

Small Business Saturday launched in 2010 as a way to boost spending at locally owned shops.

 

For video: http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/33797512/shopping-local-can-support-your-community


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Main Street experts unveil Saltillo Vision Plan

 

By William Moore

Tupelo Daily Journal

 

SALTILLO – Saltillo residents got their first look Thursday night at the Vision Plan tailored for the city by a panel of experts from the Mississippi Main Street Association.

 

The experts came from across the state and across the country to spend three days in Saltillo learning about the northern Lee County town of 5,000, its people, its resources and how to best promote it.

 

“I have been overwhelmed by all of this and extremely surprised,” said Saltillo Main Street Director Lindsey Hines. “They came in with a fresh set of eyes – they weren’t biased and gave us their thoughts.”

 

While most members of the MMSA focused their attention on downtown, Saltillo is different. While the city does have a traditional downtown business district, most of the commercial and retail businesses are on Highway 145.

 

To deal with the city as a whole and the two business districts, the panel created a simple logo and designated the areas Saltillo-Downtown and Saltillo-South.

 

“You can use this logo for banners, promotions, advertising and even way-finding signs,” said facilitator Ben Muldrow from Greenville, South Carolina.

 

As a way to unify the business districts and the town as a whole, Pass Christian architect Leah Watters suggested “Saltillo in Bloom.” An abundance of a single type of plant would be ordered. Then businesses and residents could plant them on their properties. When they bloomed, it would offer a sea of the same color across the community.

 

Mississippi State University Extension Service economist Rachel Carter said Saltillo’s median disposable income is well above the state average. But a lot of that money is being spent out of town.

 

“There is potential for growth, especially in general merchandise,” Carter said.

 

She conducted a study that showed Saltillo residents are pet owners, enjoy hunting and fishing and enjoy walking for exercise.

 

As part of a long-rang plan, the panel suggested walking trails and pedestrian connections to link Saltillo City Park, the W.K. Webb Sportsplex, downtown and Lake Lamar Bruce. The trail could also connect with the Natchez Trace Parkway.

 

The plan also called for the conversion of unused property on downtown side streets into parking lots. The panel said more than 200 additional parking spaces could easily be created to foster a revamped business district.

 

MMSA will give local officials a couple of months to digest the information in the vision plan. They will return after the holidays and begin putting the ideas into a format the city can implement over the next several years.

 

william.moore@journalinc.com


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A Magical Night on the Polar Express

 

I was heading to Batesville to board the Polar Express for the North Pole. The magic began as soon as I entered the city. Warm, brightly lit snowflakes lined the streets, welcoming me to town. I made the turn toward downtown, and the excitement continued to build.

 

I knew I had arrived as buildings and trees with thousands of twinkling lights greeted me. The downtown looked scrubbed and polished with fresh pine straw, groomed shrubs, squeaky-clean windows and beautiful winter window displays. For folks coming to Batesville from hundreds of miles around, I knew some fun family shopping would be had in the coming weeks before Christmas.

 

The train was set to depart at 7:30 p.m., and I did not have much time to spare. I found the ticket office, a wonderful corner building on the Square with Polar Express pajamas, robes, and wonderful trinkets for purchase in the windows. I grabbed my prized ticket and hurried to board the train in the middle of the Square. The conductor was yelling, “All Aboard!” and a friendly greeter took my ticket and guided me to Car B. I stepped on board and immediately saw dozens of friendly faces, eager for the ride to begin. Pajamas, reindeer ears, elf hats and fuzzy slippers were donned for the evening ride.

 

More lights and presents were on display above the seats, and I happily plunked down in the warm blue seat that was reserved for me. Our car had our own friendly chefs who clapped and sang and danced up and down the aisle to beloved Christmas songs. They began to pass out soft sugar cookies and warm hot chocolate to all the passengers.

 

After the delicious snack, it was story time! Through the speakers above, The Polar Express was read aloud. The friendly chefs held the books in their hands and showed us the storybook pages as we listened. The friendly vagabond in the story appeared in our car, and the conductor merrily chased him through the car. Thank goodness we all had tickets!

 

As we listened and enjoyed the ride, we could see the bright lights on houses and trees that we passed by. Such charming scenery along the way to the North Pole! When the story was over, more Christmas songs were sung, and then the train slowed. Suddenly a huge building framed in bright lights loomed in our vision, and we had arrived! Santa and his elves were waiting for us outside of Santa’s workshop and waving at us. Everyone crammed their faces into the side windows to get a glimpse of Santa and his helpers.

 

Though the time had come to leave the North Pole, we were entertained by Santa’s elves who came on board, dancing and clapping and singing in the train car. Beautiful, silver bells tied with red ribbon were given to each passenger with “The Polar Express” inscribed. What a treasure to remember the trip by!

 

Suddenly, Santa appeared in our car! He shook hands and hugged every person in the car, smiling and taking pictures. After Santa saw everyone, more songs were sung, and suddenly, as soon as it had begun, we were back in downtown Batesville.

 

Departing the train and seeing the hundreds of smiling people getting off, I knew the ride had been as magical for them as it was for me. The Christmas season had officially begun with the Polar Express Train Ride.

 

By Jeannie Zieren

——

The City of Batesville, Miss. is anticipating a boost in economic activity this year when THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train arrives for the 2016 holiday season.

 

Batesville first began service to the North Pole onboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train in November of 2015. Due to its success, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train will return and offer rides from November 18 through December 23 this year.

 

The magical story comes to life when the train departs downtown Batesville for a one-hour round-trip journey to the North Pole during the months of November and December.

 

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Once onboard, cheerful, dancing elves serve passengers hot chocolate and cookies while they read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

 

Santa and his helpers greet passengers at the North Pole and then board the train, where each child is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell. Chefs aboard each car lead passengers in singing Christmas carols on the ride back to Batesville. 

 

“It is the only Warner Brothers Polar Express licensed event in Mississippi,” said Colleen Clark, Batesville Main Street director. “More than 50,000 tickets were sold during the event duration last year. Batesville was the highest grossing location in ticket sales for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train. We hope the sales are even stronger this year!”

 

Clark said Batesville being selected to host the train ride was “serendipity.” She said Premier Rail Events, which manages the ticket sales, noticed the charming downtown square and saw the potential for bringing the train ride to Batesville.

 

 “This is exciting for Batesville but especially for downtown,” Clark said. “Securing the train has been a catalyst for business owners to make downtown visitor-ready.”

 

Once THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride was confirmed that it was coming, Batesville Main Street members wanted to capitalize on the opportunity.  

 

Main Street volunteers and business owners worked hard to complete eight new façade rehabilitations of downtown buildings in time for the train’s arrival last year.  Batesville Main Street also worked with downtown merchants to expand store hours, decorate for the holidays, and create new incentives for holiday shopping.

 

“Our stores saw an increase in out of town and in store shoppers,” Clark said. “We also had three new businesses locate to downtown.”

 

The pocket park at the entryway of the Square in downtown was also decorated for the season.

 

Besides the “makeover” that downtown received, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride also gave the City of Batesville a significant economic and tourism boost.

 

November 2015 showed a 13 percent increase in food, beverage and lodging tax as well as retail sales tax from November 2014, and December 2015 showed an overall 11 percent increase from the previous year.

 

While the numbers are impressive, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride also provides the intangible benefits of bringing families together and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors alike from all over the state and region.

 

The City and businesses of Batesville are excited to welcome the second THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride and all its visitors to town this holiday season.

 

Tickets for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride are on sale now!

 

Book Tickets by Phone: 877-334-4783 or Website: https://www.grenadapolarexpressride.com/.


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Vicksburg to host 'Back Stage Pass'

By Sarah Mahan

The Vicksburg Post

 

Event planners from around the state will be flocking to Vicksburg at the end of January.

 

A collaboration between the Mississippi Main Street Association, Visit Mississippi, the Mississippi Arts Commission and local sponsors, Back Stage Pass 2017, an annual conference to “prepare event coordinators to plan and implement memorable events in Mississippi’s hometowns,” will be held in the Red Carpet City Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, according to a press release.

 

This year’s theme, “A Nod to the Past and a Vision for the Future,” hints the special importance of this year’s event, as 2017 is Mississippi’s 200th anniversary as a state.

 

“With it being the bicentennial and Vicksburg being so historic, it’s the perfect place for 2017, though we didn’t necessarily plan it that way,” Jeannie Waller Zieren, director of training and information for the Mississippi Main Street Association, said, noting in surveys for previous events Vicksburg was listed as a place attendees would like a future conference to be held.

 

Though Zieren said the majority of the approximately 200 attendees expected at the event, which will mostly be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center, will be associated with city government and professional event planning, the conference is open to anyone interested in planning an event in Mississippi.

 

“Different cities around the state see different numbers, but we’ll see 150 and hopefully close to 200 people attend,” she said of the event, now in its sixth year. “We work really hard to create a totally new conference each year. It’s one of those things that you can go to every year and learn something new.”

 

Though the conference will have staple sessions, like its intro to festivals and events session, Zieren said parts of the conference will focus on bicentennial event planning as well.

 

Mary Margaret Miller, Visit Mississippi’s creative economy and culture bureau manager, said, “We hope that our sessions will inspire attendees to recognize the state’s deep, complex and sometimes volatile history. Moreover, we intend for attendees to come away with a vision of what our communities will look like in the next 200 years. We are optimistic about the future of our state, and we know that creative placemaking, entrepreneurship and events are at the root of its success.”

 

Zieren added event sessions will feature mostly speakers from Mississippi.

 

“We’re heavily Mississippi influenced,” she said. “We rely heavily on Mississippi experts.”

 

In addition to conference sessions, Back Stage Pass 2017 will feature a Mississippi Artists Showcase and an opportunity for businesses or artists to exhibit wares or services that could be booked for an event.

 

Attendees who visit all exhibitors will be entered to win a free concert by a Mississippi roster artist.

 

The event, Zieren said, aims to boost local economies and Mississippi’s creative economy.

 

“We talk to you about how to include your merchants at your event. We look at how an event can attract money that stays in the local economy,” she said.

 

Registration for the event opened last week with a pass for the event costing $100. For more information on how to register call 601-944-0113.


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Support Small Businesses and Remember to Shop Local this Holiday Season

By Daryl Neely, MDA Asset Development

 

As we enter into November, the consistently colder weather signals the beginning of hunting season, Thanksgiving, and of course, the holiday shopping season. Commonly known as “Black Friday,” the holiday shopping season kicks into full swing on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, the date is Nov. 25.

 

Black Friday, touted as the busiest shopping day of the year, earned its name to signal the time of year when retailers’ sales move out of the red and into the black, actually turning a profit.

 

Per the National Retail Federation, retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one-in-four U.S. jobs – 42 million people – and contributes $2.6 trillion to the gross domestic product. The retail trade association recently announced it expects sales in November and December – excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales – to increase a solid 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion, which is significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Also, retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with last year’s 675,300 new holiday positions.

 

Black Friday marks and sets the tone as the unofficial kick off of the Christmas season. To take full advantage of this kick off, retailers often extend their hours of operation – some even opening as early as midnight. Following Black Friday, there is now Cyber Monday, where retailers offer additional sales and incentives for purchases made exclusively online.

 

In recent years, many retailers started opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day, but there appears to be a backlash this year, as retailers from around the country say they will remain closed on Thanksgiving.

 

According to http://www.bestblackfriday.com, in-store Black Friday will account for $9.2 billion in sales this year, a drop of about 10 percent from last year. However, the decline will be made up by online sales, which are expected to top $3 billion on this year’s Black Friday, a 13 percent increase from last year.

 

But as it relates to small businesses all over Mississippi, there is another day capable of a major effect on Main Street. Between the Black Friday sales and the Cyber Monday online deals, there is Small Business Saturday.

 

First conceived in 2010, Small Business Saturday is “a day set aside to support the small businesses playing a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities all across the country,” according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Four years later, an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small independent businesses on Small Business Saturday.

 

In many of our Mississippi communities, Main Street and small businesses are the backbone of the town, not only in its sales tax and employment, but also in community pride and local philanthropy. Supporting these local businesses allows them to be profitable, provide jobs and adds value to our town’s ability to attract outsiders. Unique shopping is truly an asset to a community’s ability to add to the sales tax base.

 

In small towns across our state, when we shop at local small business, we not only get great products and services, but also we are supporting our neighbors and strengthening our local economy.

 

According to the SBA, in the last two decades, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., and today more than half of all working Americans own or work for a small business.

 

Encouraged and promoted heavily last year, researchers say Small Business Saturday gave a boost to Main Street businesses, with more than 100 million Americans shopping at independently owned small businesses around the country.

 

With many Mississippi communities having small specialty shops, now is the time for your local business community to push and promote Small Business Saturday in your area. Offered by American Express, you can receive free Small Business Saturday promotional ideas by visiting www.shopsmall.com and get suggestions on how to promote it in your community.

 

On Black Friday, we all get the urge to rush out with the crowds for the busiest shopping day of the year. On Cyber Monday, we all hunker down in front of our computers as we point and click our way to deal after deal. So this year, on Small Business Saturday, let’s not forget to pay a visit to Main Street. After all, everyone wins when these small locally owned businesses thrive and add to the tax base for the town.


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MAIN STREET GREENWOOD TO RECEIVE BIDS ON HISTORIC ANTOON STORE

Bid Opening Set for December 22, 2016

 

 

GREENWOOD (Oct. 24, 2016) – Main Street Greenwood, Inc. will be accepting bids on the historic, Antoon Department Store on December 22, 2016 at 2 PM at City Hall. There is no minimum bid, but all bidders are required to agree to all rehabilitation guidelines and deadlines associated with the project. These can be found in the bid packet (link below).

 

This 13,340 square foot department store is located at 506 Main Street within the Carrollton/Johnson Historic District. It is eligible for state and federal rehabilitation tax credits, Greenwood’s local property tax abatement, Greenwood’s entertainment district tax credits and Main Street Greenwood’s façade grant. Built in 1908, the beautiful brick façade, glass storefront, and original awning create an ideal blank canvas for new development within downtown Greenwood.

 

The property is located one block away from Greenwood’s Rail Spike Park, a multi-purpose, 4 mile trail connecting the heart of downtown Greenwood with Highway 82. The new Farmer’s Market Pavilion is just one building away from the historic Department Store. The Winery at William’s Landing, The Viking Cooking School, and the Alluvian Hotel and Spa are also one block away.

 

The Antoon Department Store is the first property that is part of Main Street Greenwood’s Revolving Real Estate Program. The program is designed to remove high purchase costs on large square footage property within the Main Street District. All proceeds generated from the sale of the property will remain in the Revolving Real Estate Fund and will be utilized to restore or purchase other properties within downtown Greenwood.

 

All potential bidders are invited to attend the November 1, 2017 Open House. It will be from 10 am – 5 PM at the store and then from 5-7 PM at The Winery at William’s Landing for questions and cocktails.

 

All information about the project and process can be downloaded at www.greenwoodms.com/DocumentCenter/View/151. Contact Brantley Snipes, mainstreetgreenwood@gmail.com or 662-453-7625 for more information on this project.


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Saltillo seeks input for Mississippi Vision Plan

 

By William Moore

Daily Journal

 

SALTILLO – The future direction of Saltillo could be determined in the next 10 days, and city leaders are asking the public to help in the process.

 

The city will be the first in the state to participate in the Mississippi Vision Plan process, sponsored by the Mississippi Main Street Association.

 

“We are really excited about this,” said Saltillo Main Street director Lindsey Hines. “It’s been a long time since March when we were named a Main Street community.

 

“I can’t wait to get the results – when they tell us here’s what we found, here are things you can start implementing immediately.”

 

The public side of the three-day project will kick off with a community input meeting Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the community room at Saltillo City Hall.

 

The ultimate goal for the Vision Plan is to provide the community with an on-going, flexible work plan that city leaders and the Saltillo Main Street program can use to guide the continued revitalization and development of the town and stimulate further economic growth.

 

“This plan will help us identify goals for Saltillo’s future, and the first steps to achieve those goals,” said Jan Miller, MMSA Director of Technical Services. “We hope to see a big turnout from the community and surrounding area.

 

“An important part of the process is hearing from the public and what community members want to see accomplished in their hometown.

 

The Mississippi Vision Plan will combine creative, intense work sessions with public input sessions and meetings with community stakeholders.

 

“We have been contacting people for the different meetings, including historic preservation, economic development and civic groups,” Hines said. “We’ll take (the visiting MMA advisors) on a driving tour to highlight the entrances to the city, the business districts, industrial areas and other hot spots.”

 

The Mississippi Vision Plan team will produce diagrams, plans, design renderings, photo-manipulations, branding and marketing collaterals to illustrate their recommendations.

 

All of these products and recommendations are presented to the community on the final evening of the program.

 

The public is also invited to attend the final Mississippi Vision presentation on Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at Saltillo City Hall.


OUR OPINION: Investing in young professionals key for state

Keeping young people in Mississippi and attracting even more young professionals to our state is a priority that likely doesn’t get enough attention with so many other pressing items to deal with on the state level.
 

But leaders at one of Mississippi’s top universities, along with the help of some Mississippi executives, have created a new, innovative program to help do just that.

 

The Executive in Residence (EIR) program at Mississippi State University will allow any student, not just business majors, the chance to consult with visiting business executives during designated office hours throughout the academic year.

 

The program is being operated at Mississippi State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, an impressive facility serving an important purpose in our state.

 

The Center, which opened in the spring of 2016, has more than 2,000 square feet where student entrepreneurs can network and receive professional guidance in starting their businesses, according to MSU. Students can also participate in monthly pitch competitions for funding.

 

Part of the key component built into the new facility was an office to house an executive to give students feedback based on real world experiences.

 

The program will host Glenn McCullough as its inaugural executive.

 

The current executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and previous mayor of Tupelo is a great choice to help launch the program.

 

McCullough will host office hours Wednesday to mentor students and said he believes the program is a great way to give back to the university and at the same time help develop the next generation of Mississippi business leaders.

 

Planned future EIRs include George Bryan of Old Waverly in West Point and Geoffrey Carter, president and CEO of Tupelo-based company Hyperion Technologies.

 

All these executives are excellent choices to help cultivate ideas that the best and brightest young people in Mississippi are working to grow into million, or even billion, dollar products and services.

 

And those include several Northeast Mississippians such as Michael Lane, a 2012 Amory High School graduate and senior mechanical engineering major at MSU who recently started his own company.

 

Lane said he believes getting feedback from executives like McCullough will help complement the things learned in the classroom by adding a different perspective on real-world scenarios from business leaders who have plenty of experience.

 

McCullough sees this work as a direct connection with the work MDA is doing to create more jobs and opportunities for young people, and we couldn’t agree more.

 

In order for our state to continue to grow and prosper for years to come, we need more young people to invest in our state and our communities.

 

Having experience, qualified Mississippi executives helping our young people is a great way to ensure their dreams turn into realities.

 


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Mississippi Main Street Hosts Organization Training in Bay St. Louis


Learn how to develop and maintain a successful organization

BAY SAINT LOUIS, MISS. (Oct. 4, 2016)—Directors and board members of Mississippi Main Street communities have the opportunity to learn how to develop a successful and effective organization though three days of training in Bay Saint Louis this Oct. 26-28.


“Main Street programs can be set up in a variety of ways, and organization training is geared to help them get started and continue to thrive—whether they are 501c3 nonprofit, 501c6 chamber, or a government entity,” says Stacy Pair, state coordinator for Mississippi Main Street. “Main Street training is for all community leaders and volunteers — from small, rural towns to large, urban cities — who are passionate about the place they call home.”


Training and hotel accommodations will be held at the Hollywood Casino at 711 Hollywood Blvd. The training times are on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Along with the training, there will also be a “mix and mingle” in Old Town on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. as well as free time to meet other members while enjoying the city. Old Town merchants will stay open until 6 p.m. on Thursday evening for the group to do some shopping and support local businesses.



For registration and more information on the Mississippi Main Street Organization Training, visit https://form.jotform.com/61366969917171.
 


Savor Starkville earns state tourism award

 

From left, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Special Events and Projects Coordinator Jennifer Prather, GSDP Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Gregory and Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors Chairman Jeremy Murdock pose with the Mississippi Tourism Association's Tourism Production of the Year Award Tuesday in Natchez. SCVB's Savor Starkville campaign, which highlights Starkville as a blossoming restaurant destination, received the award during the Mississippi Governor's Conference on Tourism.

From left, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Special Events and Projects Coordinator Jennifer Prather, GSDP Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Gregory and Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors Chairman Jeremy Murdock pose with the Mississippi Tourism Association's Tourism Production of the Year Award Tuesday in Natchez. SCVB's Savor Starkville campaign, which highlights Starkville as a blossoming restaurant destination, received the award during the Mississippi Governor's Conference on Tourism.
Photo by: Courtesy photo

Carl Smith
The Dispatch

 

 

Savor Starkville, a Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau campaign highlighting the city's blossoming culinary scene, received the Mississippi Tourism Association's Tourism Promotion of the Year Award Tuesday at the Mississippi Governor's Conference on Tourism in Natchez. 

 

Launched in 2015 when Starkville was recognized by Restaurant Business magazine as a top-5 community in the U.S. to open a restaurant, the campaign utilized illustrated culinary maps denoting the location of Starkville's trending dining establishments, a Southeast Emmy Award-nominated video airing in Mississippi's major markets, custom media kits delivered to ESPN and SEC Network on-air talent traveling to Starkville for home football game weekends and a display at June's Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. 

 

Tuesday's recognition isn't the first for the campaign, as Starkville Main Street Association's Farm to Fork fundraiser won this year's Outstanding Creative Fundraising Award from the Mississippi Main Street Association.  

 

Greater Starkville Development Partnership Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Gregory said the success of Savor Starkville should be shared with the restaurant owners who put Starkville on the map as a culinary destination and those who worked hard to produce the campaign. 

 

Both SCVB and SMSA fall under the Partnership's management and operational umbrella, which also includes the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce and Starkville Community Market. 

 

"We are honored to receive an award that so many CVBs across the state compete for. I'm really proud of this campaign, the collaborative efforts that went into producing it and the multimedia approach we've taken to tell the authentic story of Starkville's culinary experience," Gregory said. "Our design and broadcast partners and our amazing restauranteurs are the ones that give us such a rich story to tell."

 


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LEAKE COUNTY DIRECTOR ELECTED TO REPRESENT MAIN STREET DIRECTORS ON STATE BOARD


JACKSON, Miss.—Russell Baty, the director of the Main Street Chamber of Leake County has been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors.


Baty of Carthage has been elected by fellow MMSA Directors to serve as the 2017-2018 Directors' Representative on the state board.


Baty is the Program Director for the Main Street Chamber of Leake County.  He began his career with Main Street in 2010 as Program Director of the Carthage Main Street Program.  During his tenure, he has helped oversee a $700,000 renovation project of the downtown square.  He started one of the most successful projects the program has with Sweets and Treats on Main Street.  Each year the program brings out 1,500 plus children to the Carthage Square for trick or treating. Under Baty's leadership, the program has received awards from Mississippi Main Street for the last six years.


Baty, a native of Demopolis, Ala., is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a double major in History and Communications and post graduate work in Library Science with an emphasis on Historical Preservation.  He is married to Lou Ann Harvey and together they own The Bakery and Café in downtown Carthage. They have four children and five grandchildren.
The MMSA Board provides two positions on the statewide board for Directors' Representatives. Each representative serves a two-year term and represents the 52 Main Street programs in Mississippi on the state level.



Baty joins Jennifer Gregory, CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, who is serving as the 2016-2017 Directors' Representative on the board. Baty replaces Lori Tucker, Director of the Baldwyn Main Street Chamber, who will complete her term in December.



The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. The 2016 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:
Board President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development; Treasurer Ed Gardner, Entergy; Past President Mark Loughman, Mississippi Power; Matthew McLaughlin of McLaughlin P.C.; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Mayor Chip Johnson, City of Hernando; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Kevin Stafford, Neel-Schaffer; Kagan Coughlin, Base Camp Coding Academy; Chris Chain, Renovations of Mississippi, Inc., Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership; Lori Tucker, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber; Michelle Jones, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leland Speed, EastGroup/Parkway Properties; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leah Kemp, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University; and Joy Foy of the Mississippi Development Authority.
 


Become a Neighborhood Champion and rally your community by throwing an event on Small Business Saturday. As a Neighborhood Champion, you will receive monthly emails leading up to the day to help plan your event and get your community excited to Shop Small®.

Start planning the kind of event that will rally your neighborhood to support your local, small businesses.

 


Revitalization and Main Street Transformation

By Patrice Frey, President and CEO, National Main Street Center | From Main Street Story of the Week | August 5, 2016 |

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0816_PM_CoverThis article was originally published in Public Management magazine’s August 2016 issue, and is reposted here with permission from ICMA. View the original article at icma.org/pm.

Over the course of the past decade, America’s downtowns have experienced a renaissance, with boomers and millennials choosing to live in communities that are walkable and that provide distinctive character and diverse amenities. This is true for the biggest of counties and smallest of towns.

But even with these powerful demographic forces at work, downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts can still face an uphill battle. Achieving the right mix of housing, retail, restaurants, transportation, green space, and more is a complicated calculus.

For a lucky few downtowns, greatness may happen effortlessly with a strong sense of place that seems to develop organically and simply sustain itself. For most places, success doesn’t happen by chance.
Vibrant downtowns—like Lake City, Colorado (www.lakecitydirt.com); Woodbine, Iowa (www.woodbineia.org/main-street); or Birmingham, Alabama (www.revbirmingham.org)—are successful because of long-term, strategic, tactical growth and management.

Over the past 35 years one tool in particular—the Main Street Approach—has helped communities to effectively organize, execute, and achieve their vision for success downtown.

A Way Forward

The Main Street Approach, and indeed the Main Street movement, grew out of rising concerns in the late 1970s and early 80s that the increasing suburbanization of the American landscape and urban renewal efforts were doing irreparable harm to downtowns and their older and historic structures.

Harnessing a unique mixture of professional downtown management and volunteer engagement, the program offered a way forward for communities. It helped them prevent or reverse deterioration of the character of downtowns and commercial districts by focusing comprehensively on the overall health of these areas.

While Main Street-style revitalization has always looked slightly different depending on the local context, successful downtowns typically have one thing in common: They have pursued revitalization strategies that are comprehensive in scope.

There is no quick fix or single project that can turn a downtown around. Successful place management and transformation can only be achieved through forward-looking strategies, a comprehensive focus, and work across these four key areas:

  1. Development of targeted economic development strategies that improve the mix and vitality of downtown businesses, cultural institutions, and housing.
  2. The pursuit of quality design, including improving transit accessibility and walkability, as well as building rehabilitation and façade improvements.
  3. Marketing of the district, including the development of a distinct branding and programming for the area to attract shoppers and visitors.
  4. The successful development of a professionally managed downtown organization—whether that entity is housed with a city or county, or is a stand-alone nonprofit.

Main Street America’s long-standing revitalization strategy, called the Four Point Approach, offers a critical playbook that corresponds to each of these four areas of focus—economic vitality, design, promotions, and organization—enabling local leaders, downtown managers, and volunteers to take revitalization into their own hands.

Over the past 35 years, this approach has been used in more than 2,000 communities, generating nearly $65.6 billion in downtown reinvestment—often in downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts that have faced significant disinvestment and decline (see Figure 1).

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An Enhanced Tool

A refreshed version of the Main Street Approach was launched last fall and is in beta mode now. It’s aimed at helping communities of all sizes embrace a more strategic, outcome-oriented approach to revitalization.

Fundamentals of the Main Street Approach remain the same, but there is increased focus on long-term economic transformation and helping local leaders to strategically organize their efforts to achieve tangible, measurable goals.

Since implementation of the Main Street Approach makes use of professional downtown managers and mobilizes volunteers, it can substantially lessen the burden on local government to “turn around downtown” or reinvigorate fledgling neighborhood commercial districts.

In successful communities, however, lasting revitalization depends on strong partnerships and coordination between the Main Street organization, local government, and small business owners. Modest financial support from local government, combined with small business sponsorships and event-generated revenue, are needed to sustain downtown improvement efforts.

Where special district financing is available, it can be particularly effective at generating a sustainable revenue stream for revitalization work.

Main Streets at Work

What does Main Street revitalization look like in practice? Communities using the Main Street Approach come in all stripes, from the bustling H Street NE corridor in Washington, D.C.; to the scenic college town of Milledgeville, Georgia; to rural Rawlins, Wyoming.

As different as they are, each of these places has used Main Street as a framework to guide inclusive, strategic, and effective revitalization efforts.

The H Street NE corridor, for example, has undergone dramatic transformation since the mid-20th century. Disinvestment, segregation, violence, and high-vacancy rates all posed serious challenges to this neighborhood that, at one time, was a major hub of African American culture and industry in the city.

While the District of Columbia is now one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, H Street’s dramatic resurgence is not simply attributable to the city’s overall economic boom. The commercial district, with the support and leadership of this H Street Main Street program, has strategically navigated the forces of new development, gentrification, and preservation using Main Street as a guide.

Today, H Street NE is a diverse, lively neighborhood filled with a mix of historic character, local flavor, and new development. It has become a destination for residents from other neighborhoods, while still managing to support a mixed-income population and diverse group of business owners.

Main Street Director Anwar Saleem sees his role—and that of the H Street Main Street Program (HSMS)—as the community’s go-to resource for residents, business owners, and developers.

“HSMS has been the on-the-ground and accessible clearinghouse of relevant information about proposed or pending development projects,” says Saleem. He notes that the success of the H Street District is related directly to intensive engagement with the community and partnership building with local businesses.

"'Traditional approaches’ [to economic development] are very distant into the past now, since we have actively engaged residents and the business community for 14 years now about the need for growth and managed change.”

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While different in scale, the revitalization challenges in smaller, more traditional Main Street-style communities can be equally challenging, and require strategic goal setting and strong leadership. Rawlins, Wyoming (population 9,200), like rural communities across the country, faced significant economic challenges in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Since adopting Main Street in 2006, Rawlins has brought the downtown vacancy rate down to 10 percent from 45 percent and leveraged local community involvement, amounting to more than 7,000 volunteer hours.

While maintaining the town’s historic character and charm is a key priority, the leaders at the Rawlins Downtown Development Authority/Main Street program are not relying on charm alone to shape the future of the community. The Main Street program, for example, was instrumental in helping to open the Rainbow Te-Ton Entrepreneur Center (RTEC).

Situated partly in an old hotel—once known locally as the “pigeon hotel” for its state of disrepair—the RTEC now gives fledgling businesses a chance to share expenses and ideas with one another. It offers conference and training rooms, virtual office space, and monthly business classes.

And it works: The center has generated 200 new jobs and 28 new businesses downtown. This innovative reuse of a historic building, dedication to fostering local entrepreneurship, and clear economic impact are illustrative of the way Main Street can help small communities live up to their full potential.

On the other side of the country, Milledgeville, Georgia (population 19,401), serves as yet another example of how Main Street communities can tap into local resources, build partnerships, and build on their history to ensure a strong future.

The Milledgeville Main Street program is nearing its 30th year in the program and has continuously built on its successes to ensure the downtown is an inviting, economically thriving, and diverse destination. Since its founding in 1988, the Milledgeville Main Street program has helped generate 394 jobs and 89 building rehabs, as well as bringing in 154 net new businesses and adding 22 downtown housing units—all while reducing the vacancy rate from 50 percent to 8 percent and tapping into a network of thousands of local volunteers of all ages.

While this success alone is testament to the strength of Milledgeville’s program, Milledgeville is embracing change and is an early adopter of an updated version of the Main Street Approach. Carlee Schulte, director of the Milledgeville Main Street program, attributes the Main Street “refresh” with helping her program to “envision our downtown in a way that makes for easier and more strategic planning for the future. We now have a tool with which to identify our unique strengths and leverage them for invaluable community ownership and identity.”

Thus, what makes a place like Milledgeville or H Street or Rawlins work and what makes them thrive is precisely what sets them apart from other places—their authenticity, their distinct vision, and their residents. What unites them is a shared commitment to partnership building, strategic growth, and community engagement.

A Movement of the Future

At its core, this commitment is what Main Street is about. While preserving authentic character, harnessing the value of historic buildings, and helping communities get started on their revitalization efforts are all important components of what Main Street does, the work is never really done.

Even the most successful Main Street programs in communities that are seen by standard metrics as successful, are constantly confronted with change. Managing that change is just as important and central to what Main Street does as getting started.

As the field of community development and revitalization shifts to respond to new trends and challenges (think: housing, transit-oriented development, the rise of online commerce, sustainability, brownfields remediation, and more), Main Street continues to be a tool that helps local government leaders adapt to and make the most of these changes. Main Street always has been, and continues to be, a movement of the future.

For more information on Main Street America and for details on how to get your community involved, visit mainstreet.org.

This article was originally published in Public Management magazine’s August 2016 issue, and is reposted here with permission from ICMA. View the original article at icma.org/pm.

 

Patrice Frey is President and CEO of the National Main Street Center, where she oversees the Center’s work, offering technical assistance, research, advocacy, and education and training opportunities for Main Street’s network of approximately 1,100 communities.

 


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The Tate County Economic Development Foundation (EDF) announces the hiring of Jamie Sowell as its first-ever Community Development Manager.  In her new role, Sowell's primary duties include the leadership of Senatobia Main Street, the EDF's division dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of historic downtown Senatobia.  Sowell will also work in related areas of membership development, tourism, event planning and management, as well as other chamber of commerce activities.


 
"For three years, the EDF has worked towards hiring a manager for Senatobia Main Street and our other Chamber efforts", said Tim Climer, PCED, Executive Director of the EDF. "Our progress has been slow but steady in improving downtown Senatobia, and in the formation of a functioning Main Street Board of Directors and complete organization in full compliance with all federal and state Main Street guidelines.  We are thrilled to have someone of Jamie's experience to now take us to new heights, as she can channel her substantial abilities in these endeavors.  We welcome her into the EDF family, and look forward to many successes in coming years."


 
Climer will continue to concentrate his efforts on industrial recruiting, retention and expansion, along with retail/commercial development, community infrastructure visioning and needs, education/workforce development, government relations and overall EDF oversight.  Long-time EDF Administrative Assistant Glenda Neal will continue her day-to-day office management and bookkeeping duties, as well as using her vast experience with events and membership development, in addition to serving at the "front door" for inquiries into Tate County and her communities.


 
Sowell comes to the EDF with a strong background in marketing and sales from the DeSoto Times-Tribune and Click Magazine family.  She has also worked in a Main Street office, giving her valuable insight into her new role.  Sowell grew up in DeSoto County, graduated from Northwest Mississippi Community College, and has lived in Looxahoma in Tate County for six years.  She is married to local business owner and fireman Butch Sowell, and they have five children.
 


Jamie Sowell may be reached at jamie@tatecountyms.com or at 662.562.8715.


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Read featured article, "Traveling the Tanglefoot"

July/August 2016 issue of Mississippi Magazine


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JACKSON, Miss.—Three new members and a new slate of executive officers have been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors. The new members and officers were elected at the recent annual awards meeting held in Jackson.

 

Chris Chain, president of Renovations of Mississippi, Inc. in Columbus, Kagan Coughlin, executive director and trustee of Base Camp Coding Academy in Water Valley, and Kevin Stafford, professional engineer with Neel-Schaffer in Columbus have been elected as new members of the statewide board.

 

The newly-elected executive officers are: President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank in Tupelo; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development in Gulfport; Treasurer Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi in Jackson; and Past President Mark Loughman, Mississippi Power Company in Gulfport.

 

When Chain moved back to his hometown of Columbus, he became interested in the preservation of historic downtown properties. He began purchasing historic commercial buildings in downtown Columbus and developing the unused upper stories into residential apartments. He has received numerous state and local awards for his work in downtown restoration projects. Chain has developed more than 100 buildings all over the state of Mississippi. He is past president of Main Street Columbus as well as a board member for 15 years. Chain also created and chaired the first two years of Market Street Festival in Columbus, which attracts an annual crowd of more than 40,000 people. In 1996, Chain started his own company - Renovations of Mississippi, Inc. He is a licensed general contractor specializing in historic restoration and new construction with extensive experience in obtaining Historic Tax Credits and working with city officials.

 

Coughlin worked as an analyst for Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. until 2006 when he accepted a position with the software company FNC Inc. in Oxford, Miss. For the past 10 years, Coughlin has been laying down deep roots in Mississippi: starting a family in Water Valley, renovating three historic residences in Water Valley, serving on the board of Water Valley Main Street for three years, including vice president and chair of the Economic Vitality committee, renovating six buildings on Main Street in Water Valley, co-founding the B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery with his wife Alexe Van Buren and currently serving on the board of Davidson Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization. He has received two state Main Street awards for his renovation efforts. Most recently, Coughlin has helped launch Base Camp Coding Academy, a non-profit education initiative that offers a free program to qualifying Mississippi youth to take them from high school graduate to regionally employed level-one software developer in 12 months. The inaugural class began June 1, 2016.

 

Stafford joined Neel-Schaffer in 1999 and now serves as the firm’s North Mississippi manager, working out of our Columbus office. Stafford’s 17 years of experience includes engineering design and project management in grading and drainage, sewer, water, roadway, traffic and civil site design. He has administered all aspects of projects, including schematic and conceptual development to final design; preparation of plans, specifications and contract documents; cost estimating, bidding and construction administration. Stafford coordinates workloads and manages projects with numerous public and private entities. He also serves as the engineer of record for numerous local public agencies. Stafford has served as president of the Columbus Air Force Base Community Council and president of the Columbus Main Street Association. He has been an executive board member of the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link, president of the Columbus Planning Commission, vice president of the Columbus Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals, and an active member of several other local organizations.


The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. The 2016 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:

 

Board President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development,  Treasurer Ed Gardner of Entergy; Past President Mark Loughman of Mississippi Power; Matthew McLaughlin of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.; Hilary Burroughs, Sanderson Farms, Inc.; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Mayor Chip Johnson, City of Hernando; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership; Lori Tucker, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber; Katie Blount, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leland Speed, EastGroup/Parkway Properties; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Glenn McCullough, Mississippi Development Authority; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leah Kemp, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University; and Joy Foy, Mississippi Development Authority.

 

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It’s the essential institution that keeps you informed about local events, local businesses, our schools, local government, and maybe even helps keeps politicians on the straight and true path. That institution is the North Mississippi Herald.


There are three businesses in this town that are well over 100 years old. That’s significant because staying in business even past one generation is difficult, much less multiple ones. Those over 100 year old downtown anchors are Mechanics Bank, Turnage Drugs and this newspaper, the North Mississippi Herald. When people ask me how Water Valley has kept going on, when so many other small towns have clearly suffered, I say it is money, drugs, and women (I mean Betty).



Recently the Herald street presence was looking a little rough. Now mind you, the building is in good shape, in the move up the street from the old building a decade ago, the new owner David Howell paid then the highest per square foot price for historic commercial space. It was a good deal. The building functioned and looked, relative to most buildings on the street, okay. But times have changed.



Just to the north a whole row of empty buildings have sprung back into life. To the south, major work on multiple buildings changed the street for the better. The Herald building at 416 North Main was looking a bit careworn and compared to the many restorations, out of date. Those other renovations have brought back what architects call the “local vernacular”. That’s returning the building, mainly the lower facades, and also signage, to what was there in the first place. The lower facade at the Herald was a 1960s ranch house look grafted on a 1880s building. It just didn’t work well.



David Howell knows the Herald is in the Valley for the long run and wanted the building to reflect that. So he started working with architect Leigh Ann Black. They came up with a restoration design for the lower façade and front office. They brought in James Ledford and his crew as the contractor. Bill Warren for the signs. Both Betty Shearer and Melody Smith added running commentary and critical perspective (critical can be good). And yours truly was in the mix just to aggravate them all.



I’ll ask you to walk by the Herald and take a look. Consider when you look at the building architect Mies van der Rohe’s mantras of “less is more” and “god is in the details”. Meaning simple yet precise and elegant is the aspiration.  Getting the details right.  James and Leigh Ann worked hard at that. The oak trim, the beaded board ceiling, the mosaic tile entranceway. Notice the texture and visual feel, step into the entranceway and see how the building welcomes you. As it should, for the newspaper represents all of us.


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SBA Administrator Embarks on Main Street Road Tour
Obama Cabinet member to visit five states across Delta Region to highlight opportunity through entrepreneurship, July 4-8

 
The SBA Administrator will visit Mississippi on July 6th in Clarksdale and July 7th with stops in Jackson and Vicksburg
 
 
WASHINGTON - As the nation celebrates its 240th birthday, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be celebrating with small businesses in five states and 11 cities during the SBA Main Street Road Tour, July 4-8.  Contreras-Sweet's  tour of Mississippi will begin on July 6th in Clarksdale  and continue the following day with stops in Jackson and Vicksburg.


 
"Main Street entrepreneurship is at the heart of the American economy, contributing half of our nation's productivity and creating two out of three net new jobs," said Contreras-Sweet.  "Communities throughout the country depend on local family restaurants, shoe stores, barber shops, and other small businesses to provide good jobs, generate vital economic activity, and deliver products and services at home and abroad.  We launched this bus tour to make sure small businesses throughout the Delta Region know that the SBA is here and ready to support them through access to capital, counseling, federal contracting and even disaster assistance. And we are working to improve support for small businesses every day with our loan originator streamlining, technological embraces including LINC, the Small Business Technology Coalition, and Startup in a Day making it easier than ever for small businesses to start, grow and succeed."


 
The SBA Main Street Road Tour is a weeklong bus tour that starts in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri on Monday, July 4th and concludes in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday, July 8th. Contreras-Sweet will visit cities and towns along the route, which includes stops in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.  During her bus tour she will embark on Main Street walking tours, meet with local small businesses as well as members of the local Chambers of Commerce, city officials and business representatives.  While meeting with all these groups she will emphasize SBA's work to drive investing into U.S. communities of all sizes and shine a spotlight on the importance and impact of Main Street small businesses across the nation.  


 
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About the Small Business Administration:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. http://www.sba.gov
 


Mississippi Magazine

Talk of the Town

July/August 2016

G.G. Holmes: Right at Home in Kosciusko

 


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Mississippi Communities Receive 2016 National Main Street Accreditation

JACKSON, Miss. (June 23, 2016)—The following Main Street communities in Mississippi have been designated as accredited Main Street America™ programs for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center:


Aberdeen, Amory, Baldwyn, Batesville, Belhaven, Biloxi, Booneville, Canton, Carthage, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Corinth, Crystal Springs, Greenville, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Holly Springs, Houston, Indianola, Kosciusko, Laurel, Louisville/Noxapater, Macon, Meridian, New Albany, Ocean Springs, Okolona, Olive Branch, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Philadelphia,  Picayune, Pontotoc, Port Gibson, Ripley, Senatobia, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West Point and Woodville.


Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.


"Receiving National Main Street accreditation is a prestigious designation and we congratulate each of these programs in Mississippi for this achievement," said Stacy Pair, MMSA State Coordinator. "Main Street programs play a strategic role in making Mississippi more competitive by stimulating local, regional and statewide economic development."


“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents, and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social, and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”


Each Main Street organization’s performance is annually evaluated by the Mississippi Main Street Association, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet 10 performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.


Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated nearly $4.9 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.2 billion in public investment).



In 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 178 net new businesses, 49 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,695 net new jobs, 61 facade rehabilitations and 225 downtown residential units. More than 47,377 volunteer hours were recorded.


MMSA currently has 52 active Main Street cities throughout the state, five Downtown Network members, and numerous Association and Allied professional members.



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The Mississippi Main Street Association is a program of the National Main Street Center, Inc., and the Mississippi Development Authority with many allied partners and investors. Main Street is an economic development program based in historic preservation. The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to provide visionary leadership, guidance and counsel to Mississippi Main Street communities through organization, promotion, design and economic development to make our cities and towns better places to work, live and play. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.



Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $65.6 billion in new public and private investment, generated 556,960 net new jobs and 126,476 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 260,000 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 


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“Okolona: Coming Together”                                        May 2016

By Jeannie Zieren
Mississippi Main Street Association

 

"Tell me a success story."

 

This is something I am asking every Main Street director when I visit his or her community. Why? Because anyone who is proud of their hometown has something good to talk about. And, let's admit, we all could use some positive news in our lives. Life is hard, and we certainly need to celebrate when times are good!

 

So, I found myself meeting with Perry Grubbs and Annie Gates, the Executive Director and Board President, respectively, of the Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce/Main Street. I was there to conduct a program evaluation, but what I left with was an exciting feeling that good things, some tangible, some intangible, were happening there.

 

When I drove onto Main Street, my first impression was: This street looks really nice—most of the buildings look fixed up and full, there are nice hanging flower baskets along Main Street and other beautiful landscape treatments, like the area around the roundabout with the statue. I also thought, it's a shame that as many cars pass by Okolona every day, that there is no signage to entice people to actually come in to town.

 

After talking with Perry and Annie, I soon discovered that getting traffic into Okolona has certainly been identified as a need, and there are plans in process to make these gateway signs and overall wayfinding happen. Continuing to attract new business and market existing business is a major goal for the Chamber/Main Street, along with installing these signs.

 

One business that stood out to me was Mugs on Main. This coffee shop looked contemporary and cool, a sure sign that things are happening in downtown Okolona. I found out Mugs on Main also serves up some good lunches and were awarded the Main Street Award from the Okolona Chamber/Main Street for this year.

 

After conveying my initial reactions to downtown, we got down to business.

 

We talked through the 10 criteria for state and national Main Street accreditation, and then we got to the interesting stuff. I asked Perry and Annie, "What is a recent success story here?"

 

Perry's eyes widened, and he leaned in, as if whispering a secret, "The Harlem Ambassadors."

 

Come again?

 

Perry said that one thing this small town is known for is raising quality athletes. This town of 2,500 has had 10 professional athletes who have called it home. So, the interest in athletics here is obvious.

 

He and Annie took turns filling me in on the exciting event that took place in February of this year.

 

The Harlem Ambassadors, a professional touring basketball team from Chicago, was recruited by the Chamber/Main Street to visit Okolona, and specifically, Okolona's students. Lorene Moore, Chamber/Main Street board member and mother of Washington Redskins Kareem Moore gave great leadership to the project. Once the Board of Education approved the idea, things starting moving quickly.

 

"It was the talk of the town," Gates said.

 

The Chamber, Civitan Club, and the Okolona High School Band members sold tickets to the public. The local newspaper built the community's anticipation for the event. Finally, the day arrived.

 

"The Harlem Ambassadors put on a 'Stay in School, Stay off Drugs, and Don't Bully' program", Grubbs said. "And, the program was targeted to and heard by approximately 600 students."

 

That was just the day program. That night, the Harlem Ambassadors took on the 2002 Champion Okolona High School Basketball Team to a standing room only crowd.

 

I asked who won, and Perry told me with a wink, "Well, you know the Ambassadors always win."

 

"The Harlem Ambassadors came on a Tuesday night, and my kids were still talking about it at church the following Sunday morning," Gates said.

 

"It was a religious experience," Grubbs said, "And, it happened in Okolona!"

 

The Chamber/Main Street continues to make working with Okolona schools a priority. They created programs for the high school basketball season and gave them the opportunity to sell them for one dollar. All proceeds went back to the basketball program.

 

"We have got to bring people together in a positive way," Grubbs said. "We hope the city will come together in all respects."

 

The Chamber/Main Street continues to bring people together. Membership is at an all-time high of 124 members. Thirty-nine new businesses have started in the past five years. Only 12 of these have closed. For an economically-distressed town of 2,500, those results are pretty dramatic!

 

"The community is behind the Chamber/Main Street 100 percent," Gates said.

 

"We have to unite," Grubbs said. "And, that's happening!"

 

"See why we keep him around?" Gates stated with a smile. Then, Annie got serious. "What Okolona needs is to come together as one. Until we see that, we'll be a town divided. With a town this size, we all should have the same goal to bring Okolona together."

 

And that, my friends, is why I left Okolona excited. It felt a little bit like a church service. The kind where you are on your feet and clapping.


Photo: Mississippi Main Street Association
(From left: Perry Grubbs, Annie Gates and Jeannie Zieren)


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RAMCAT RHYTHM & BREWS TO SHOWCASE CRAFT & HOME BREWS
 

Downtown Beer Tasting to raise money for Main Street Greenwood


GREENWOOD, MISS. (June, 2016) – Summer may have just started, but Main Street Greenwood is already looking forward to the live music, lights and craft brews at Ramcat Rhythm and Blues in Greenwood’s Ramcat Alley on Saturday, August 6, from 6-10 p.m.
 
The Third Annual Ramcat Rhythm and Brews is set to tickle your taste buds with samples of craft beers from Capital City Beverages, home brewed beers from throughout Mississippi and the Southeast and a selection of bites from area food trucks.
 
Admission will be $25.00 per person and includes three beer tokens, home brew samples and live music access. Cyclists riding in Bikes, Blues, and Bayous will receive $5 off General Admission tickets. This year will also welcome back the craft beer tasting event hosted by Giardina's, featuring five tastings with beer pairings for $50 per ticket.
 
Brewmaster Mason Meeks, who is on track to bring his brewery downtown, believes that "events such as Ramcat Rhythm & Brews will help introduce the Greenwood community to the growing craft beer industry."
 
Meeks will be heading up the homebrew competition, which will feature four judged categories and a people's choice category, with the winner taking home a custom beer stein. Hombrewers of all skill levels are invited to participate at no cost, but all interested must register by contacting Main Street Greenwood for an application.
 
"Ramcat has been a great addition to Greenwood's annual events. It has evolved into something locals look forward to each year. Having it on the same weekend as Bikes, Blues and Bayous is a great way to let visitors know about another fun attraction in town," says May McCarty, Marketing Manager at The Alluvian.
 
Money raised by the event will support Main Street Greenwood in its mission to preserve and promote downtown Greenwood.
 
For more information visit the Ramcat Rhythm & Brews Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/ramcatrhythmbrews. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://mainstreetgreenwood.ticketleap.com/ramcat-rhythm—brews-2016/.
 
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Main Street Greenwood promotes and celebrates downtown Greenwood through the preservation of our historic resources and through projects, events, and activities that make downtown a viable place to live, work, and visit. For more information, visit http://www.mainstreetgreenwood.com.
 


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Hernando, Senatobia gain Playful City USA status

By Ron Maxey of The Commercial Appeal

 

Two North Mississippi cities have earned the Playful City USA designation for efforts to make their communities more family-friendly.

 

Hernando in DeSoto County and Senatobia, in neighboring Tate County, are among the 257 communities nationwide to make the 2016 list. They're the only two Mid-South cities among this year's selections.

 

The annual designations are sponsored by KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring play and recreational activities to help children achieve balanced development. It's an honorary title that helps the cities receiving it promote their initiatives.

 

Being a Playful City is nothing new for Hernando and Senatobia — Hernando won the designation eight times before this year, and this is the sixth consecutive year for Senatobia.

 

"It's such an honor to be chosen again for the sixth time," Penny Hawks Frazier, a Tate County Economic Development Foundation board member, said of the designation. "This city supports recreation, and Playful City recognizes our efforts and enables us to enhance our offerings for the citizens of Senatobia."

 

Senatobia is building a $5 million addition to its primary sports complex, and Mayor Alan Callicott said the Playful City tag "validates our traditional commitment to recreational facilities in our town."

 

Callicott said the city has seen increased corporate sponsorships and voluntarism for building playgrounds in the past few years.

 

In Hernando, Mayor Chip Johnson said he considers the Playful City designation an affirmation of the improvements the city continues to make to become more livable for families.

 

"Being a Playful City means different things to different people, but I think it shows that we put an emphasis on livability issues," he said.

 

Johnson said in addition to venues where organized sports are held, the city has put an emphasis on parks for unstructured play time such as Conger and Lee's Summit parks. Those parks have playgrounds but don't host organized team sports or anything of that nature.

 

KaBOOM! Chief Executive Officer James Siegal applauded this year's designated cities for their investment in recreational activities for children.

 

"We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first," Siegal said. "Balanced and active play is crucial to the well-being of kids and the communities that they thrive in.

 

"By integrating play into cities, the leaders of Playful Cities USA are working to attract and retain the thousands of families that want homes in close proximity to safe places to play."

 

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/suburbs/desoto/hernando-senatobia-gain-playful-city-usa-status-33239cf0-b5e5-371b-e053-0100007f8fd7—380025231.html?c=ICswKIJx

 

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Senatobia Recognized for 6th Straight Year as Playful City USA Community

 

257 American communities recognized as part of 2016 Playful City USA program



Senatobia, Miss. (May 18, 2016) - The City of Senatobia is being honored with a 2016 Playful City USA designation for the sixth straight year. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable.


 
Penny Hawks Frazier, City Alderman, EDF Board Member and leader of the local Playful City USA efforts, said "It's such an honor to be chosen again for the sixth time. This city supports recreation, and Playful City recognizes our efforts and enables us to enhance our offerings for the citizens of Senatobia."


 
Communities across the country are creating innovative ways to bring back play and attract residents through family friendly activities. Interactive sidewalk art, designated play spaces on trails and the transformation of schoolyards into active play areas. These are just a few examples of how cities are becoming more playful.


 
"We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first," said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. "Balanced and active play is crucial to the well-being of kids and the communities that they thrive in. By integrating play into cities, the leaders of Playful Cities USA are working to attract and retain the thousands of families that want homes in close proximity to safe places to play."


 
The City of Senatobia is currently constructing a $5 million addition to its primary sports complex. Alan Callicott, Mayor of Senatobia, stated that "The renewed Playful City USA designation validates our traditional commitment to recreational facilities in our town, as we have seen with increased corporate sponsorship and volunteerism for building playgrounds the last few years. Our new commitment for a first-class sports complex will be enjoyed for decades, both by our youngsters and by those who visit from other communities."
 


To learn more about these cities, see the full list of the 257 communities named 2016 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit http://www.playfulcityusa.org. We also encourage you to take part in the conversation on #playability with these thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook.


 
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MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET ANNOUNCES 2016 AWARD WINNERS

June 16, 2016 - JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 27th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson.
 
The presentation of awards was made by MMSA State Coordinator Stacy Pair and MMSA Board President Suzanne Smith.

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.
 
Among the 2016 Award Recipients:

Premier Partner: TIE - Keep Cleveland Boring, Team Cleveland Main Street

Premier Partner: TIE - Laurel's Own Your Hill, Laurel Main Street

Outstanding Creative Fundraising: Farm to Fork, Greater Starkville Development Partnership

Outstanding Marketing: Membership Drive, Gulfport Main Street

Outstanding Community Education: Fresh @ 5, Main Street Clinton

Creative New Event (Small) : A Step Back In Time, Kosciusko Main Street

Creative New Event (Large): Craft Beer Festival, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association

Outstanding Retail Promotion: Christmas Open House, Hernando Main Street

Outstanding Image Promotion: Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off, Laurel Main Street

Best Historic Rehabilitation ProjectL TIE - Gulfport Depot, Gulfport Main Street

Best Historic Rehabilitation Project: TIE - Hub City Lofts, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association

Outstanding Public Improvement: Phase 2 of The Square renovations, Carthage Main Street

Outstanding Visual Merchandising: Steve's on the Square, Philadelphia Main Street

Outstanding New Development Project: 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill, Vicksburg Main Street

Outstanding Business Retention/Recruitment Program: Opening doors to Downtown Laurel Business District Recruitment Packet, Laurel Main Street

Outstanding Adaptive Reuse Program: The Atrium - Raymond Huerta, Team Cleveland Main Street

Outstanding Economic Impact Project: TIE - The Mill, Greater Starkville Development Partnership

Outstanding Economic Impact Project: TIE - SoPro Brewery, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association

Outstanding New Business: Brick Street Pops, Main Street Clinton

Trailblazer Award (Paul Coggin): Susan Wilson, Main Street Clinton

Main Street Heroes: TIE - Sarah Newton, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association

Main Street Heroes: TIE - R G Buxton, Aberdeen Main Street

Sam Kaye Excellence in Design Award: Briar Jones, Greater Starkville Development Partnership

Outstanding Community Transformation: Gulfport Main Street

Charles Beasley Scholarship and Outstanding Director Award: Lori Tucker, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber
 
"This is the Mississippi Main Street Association team’s favorite event each year," Pair said. "It gives us an opportunity to meet and celebrate the directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive and family friendly."
 
"We are so excited to honor our economic development and preservation heroes!"
 
Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated nearly $4.9 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.2 billion in public investment).

In 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 178 net new businesses, 49 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,695 net new jobs, 61 facade rehabilitations and 225 downtown residential units. More than 47,377 volunteer hours were recorded.
 
MMSA currently has 52 active Main Street cities throughout the state, five Downtown Network members, and numerous Association and Allied professional members.
 
MMSA is a program of the Mississippi Development Authority and a member of the National Main Street Center, Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For the past 35 years, the Main Street Four Point Approach® has been used successfully in more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the nation, rural and urban, that share both a commitment to place and to build competitive communities through preservation-based economic development.


Kim Hopkins: Vickburg's Vibrant Voice

Mississippi Magazine, May/June 2016

 


MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET TO CELEBRATE 27th ANNUAL AWARDS, JUNE 16 IN JACKSON

 

JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) will celebrate the achievements of Mississippi Main Street communities and member towns at its Annual Awards Meeting and Luncheon on Thursday, June 16 at the Old Capitol Inn in downtown Jackson.


 
The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. followed by the annual meeting and awards ceremony.


During the luncheon, a presentation of awards will be made in the categories of design, economic vitality, organization and promotion, as well as special individual awards.



"This is the Mississippi Main Street Association team’s favorite event each year," said Stacy Pair, MMSA State Coordinator. "It gives us an opportunity to meet and celebrate the directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive and family friendly."



"We are so excited to be able to honor our economic development and preservation heroes!"



The awards presentation will be made by MMSA staff and 2016 Board President Suzanne Smith of Tupelo.



The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and other volunteer leaders and recognizes the best downtown development projects from 52 Main Street communities in Mississippi.



Preceding the Annual Awards Luncheon, an Economic Vitality training will be held on June 15-16 in Belhaven. The training is geared to Main Street directors and members but it also open to anyone interested in downtown revitalization.



Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated nearly $4.9 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.2 billion in public investment).



In 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 178 net new businesses, 49 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,695 net new jobs, 61 facade rehabilitations and 225 downtown residential units. More than 47,377 volunteer hours were recorded.


 
MMSA currently has 52 active Main Street cities throughout the state, five Downtown Network members, and numerous Association and Allied professional members.


 
MMSA is a program of the Mississippi Development Authority and a member of the National Main Street Center, Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



For the past 35 years, the Main Street Four Point Approach® has been used successfully in more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the nation, rural and urban, that share both a commitment to place and to build competitive communities through preservation-based economic development.



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For more information or to register for Economic Vitality training, go to http://www.msmainstreet.com/index.php/events_news/event/4025.



For reservations to the awards luncheon, go to: https://form.jotform.com/61217967277163.



A news release with a list of award winners will be sent June 16 immediately following the awards ceremony. Media are invited to attend the Annual Awards meeting.

 


Downtown Ocean Springs
Downtown Ocean Springs

Mississippi Main Street: More than just economic development

Posted by: Nash Nunnery in Economic Development, MBJ FEATURE, NEWS, Small Business May 19, 2016

Downtown Gulfport

Downtown Gulfport

By NASH NUNNERY

Finding a small town in Mississippi might be akin to bees discovering honey – it’s not hard to do. Many of those communities have distinctive downtown thoroughfares, chock full of awe-inspiring historical architecture, eclectic businesses and hometown pride. Time seems to have forgotten others.

And a select few are Mississippi Main Street Association-certified.

For the uninitiated, MMSA is a comprehensive revitalization program that promotes the historic and economic revitalization of traditional business districts in the state. According to the National Main Street Center website, the movement collectively is the nation’s leading voice for preservation-based economic development and community revitalization.

With less than a year on the job, MMSA executive director and state coordinator Stacy Pair said her first few months have been rewarding but not without challenges.

“We’ve made a few organizational changes making us a leaner, meaner machine,” she said. “Communicating with stakeholders and boards about the needs in our communities, and convening a focus group with Main Street directors across the state has been fruitful.

“Jan Miller (director of field services) and Jeannie Zieren (director of training and information services) have been outstanding in helping craft a great strategic plan.”

Mississippi Main Street’s impact is felt throughout the state. A few examples:

• Since 2010, 32 new businesses have opened in Gulfport’s downtown district

• Tourism spending in Starkville/Oktibbeha County increased from $74 million in 2011 to $86 million in 2014

• Prior to becoming a Main Street program, Pascagoula had 11 vacant buildings downtown. Today, the area known as Anchor Square features 13 retailers and two office buildings

Though Pair would like to add to the list of 52 Mississippi communities that are currently Main Street certified, she’s in no rush – the intent is quality over quantity.

“Over the last few weeks, there have been five other communities contact us for consideration of certification,” Pair said. “I don’t want to put a number on it as far as having a certain number of cities (certified) as a goal for the end of the year.”

The certification process takes about a year and can be quite demanding. MSM staff members collaborate with interested cities and towns, making sure they have a sustainable budget and proper training. A selection panel judges the process and eventually decides whether a community is ready for certification.

“It can be a long and tedious process,” said Pair. “We don’t want to set them up for failure. Mississippi Main Street takes a comprehensive approach – we want those cities to be ready.”

The cost of certification is $10,000 for the first year and tapers down to $2,000 annually after the fourth year. Designated Main Street communities also receive an approximated value of $25,000 in technical assistance during the first year alone. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $4 billion in public and private re-investment.

Saltillo is the latest Mississippi city to be declared Main Street certified. The small community near Tupelo became the 52nd member of the Mississippi Main Street Association in March. Additionally, Saltillo joins a network of some 1,800 Main Street members across the nation.

Mayor Rex Smith said that becoming a certified Main Street community will unite his town of 4,500.

“Folks here talk about ‘old’ Saltillo and ‘new’ Saltillo,” he said. “That bothers me. I want it to be one Saltillo. We’re going to work hard to make things happen.”

Pair believes the important role that historical preservation plays in the Main Street program sometimes gets lost.

“Main Street is one of the best economic development engines out there,” she said. “But it’s really about historical preservation. Our partnerships with Mississippi Heritage Trust and the National Trust for Historical Preservation are invaluable. History and a sense of place bonds communities, from the garden club ladies to city officials.”

Prior to becoming executive director, Pair served as MMSA’s Southern District director, working with 21 certified Main Street associations from Jackson to Gulfport. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she served as chair of former governor Haley Barbour’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Preservation Task Force.

“Helping restore our Gulf Coast’s historic districts hit so hard by Katrina was wonderfully satisfying,” Pair said. “I hope to focus on in-the-field services and work closely with our Main Street directors, investors and partners to identify needs in our communities all across the state."

“We are all on the same page and working as a team.”

 


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Restocked historic tax credits give new life to restoration projects

Mississippi Business Journal

By TED CARTER

Restorations and conversions of historic buildings across Mississippi stalled when the state ran out of historic tax credits are back in motion with the Legislature’s $60 million replenishment of the credits.

 

The $60 million allocation is for five years and limits the state credits to $12 million annually. Unlike the initial $60 million allocation in 2006, the new round of credits excludes non-revenue producing residential properties.

 

Restoring the money comes as a relief to the Mississippi Heritage Trust, which in October listed the preservation credits among the state’s 10 Most Endangered Places along with such historic structures as the French Hotel in Senatobia, Margaret’s Grocery in Vicksburg and Phoenix Naval Stores Office in Gulfport.

 

“Certainly, we are very glad the Legislature funded the historic tax credits,” said Lolly Barnes, Heritage Trust executive director, in an interview last week.

 

Barnes noted the new allocation will allow developers to move forward with commercial projects such as conversion of the vacant Eastland Federal Courthouse in downtown Jackson to mixed-use and the conversion of the former Veterans Hospital in Gulfport to a resort hotel and mixed-use development.

 

Loss of the credits in 2015 put a $2.7 million gap in the equity for the Gulfport project just as the construction loan was closing,  said co-developer Neal Juneau in an interview last fall.

 

Property owners and developers whose projects qualify for the credits can use them to defray 25 percent of the cost, primarily for construction, of a historic preservation. They become especially attractive when combined with the 20 percent federal historic tax credits.

 

Hayes Dent, principal of Dent Strategies, helped lobby for the new credits. He said the state will get a strong economic return on its investment. But he expects the $12 million cap on yearly allocations to destabilize overall restoration efforts, considering the multi-year undertaking most restorations involve.

 

“It is hard for me in my mind to grasp why they want to limit that,” Dent said in an interview.

 

Legislators were unwilling to say why they insisted on limiting the allocations, according to Dent. He agreed they may have wanted to ensure the credits would last for their five-year authorization.

 

“We hope we can continue to work with legislators and educate them on the importance of historic tax credits and how they can grow the economy” he said, citing research that shows Mississippi gets back $1.75for each dollar it invests in historic preservation.

 

The state’s $60 million credits generated $269 million in building rehab expenditures since their inception in 2006 and a total economic output of $432.5 million, according to an economic impact report prepared by Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development.

 

While Dent figures a number of projects are already certified for the credits and will soon begin taking them, he said he thinks the amount of credits available will be sufficient to allow new commercial projects to move into the pipeline.

 

Recipients do not get the credits until the project is completed, but credits are designated as eligibility milestones are met.

 

Like Dent, Jim Woodrick, director of historic preservation for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, expects the tax credit allocation is sufficient to allow new projects to move from the drawing boards to actual construction. “Of course there will be room,” he said.

 

The last $60 million credit lasted 10 years, he noted. So it “does not make sense that the new cap” would be reached in five years, Woodrick added.

 

The Hertz Investment Group plans to promptly seek certification for preservation credits that are a key to converting downtown Jackson’s Regions Building, once the home of Deposit Guaranty, to apartments. The project is not yet certified, but “we absolutely are working on that,” said Jim Ingram, Hertz executive vice president and chief investment officer.

 

Barnes, the Heritage Trust chief, said the decision to keep non-revenue producing residential restorations from eligibly diminishes an holistic approach to preserving Mississippi’s past. “It’s very disappointing because we need to look at our historic communities as a whole,” she said. “That was the one incentive we had to offer people who buy and take on these historic homes.”

 

Dent said he expects the exclusion of single-family dwellings from the historic tax credits will have particular impacts in such historic cities as Vicksburg and Natchez.


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Businesses are the backbone of our community

The Vicksburg Post

By Alana Norris

 

Downtown is full of small businesses, and this week those businesses are being highlighted nationally.

 

This first week of May marks National Small Business Week sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Vicksburg Main Street Program has joined in on the fun by showing webinars created by the Small Business Administration.

 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our community,” said Kim Hopkins, executive director of the Vicksburg Main Street Program. “Our town is rich in history and great for tourism, but the small businesses are the viability of our town. Small Business Week gives us the opportunity to honor our numerous small businesses in our community and renew our commitment to promoting all those in our community with the entrepreneurial and business spirit.”

 

The webinars have been viewed in Main Street’s temporary office in the City Hall annex, 1401 Walnut St., every day this week. The final hour-long, interactive webinar is at 2 p.m. Thursday and is titled “Tips for Getting Your Business Financially Fit” sponsored by Intuit Quickbooks.

 

“[We] invite any business owner or entrepreneur to come and watch the webinar and learn more about small businesses financially and any other local assistance we can be of to anyone,” Hopkins said.

 

The speaker for the webinar will be John Shapiro, director of product management and payments for Intuit Quickbooks. This webinar will discuss the importance of understanding the fiscal condition of a business —which is more than knowing how much is in the bank—when planning the future, overseeing daily duties and making important decisions.

 

Other webinars held this week covered voluntary benefits, the decline of magstripe cards, apps and services that will help grow a business, and capital and business loans.

 

“These webinars give business owners the opportunity to take a step back from their daily business and connect with other small business owners and gain inspiration from others from all over the nation,” Hopkins said.

 

She said it’s always important to promote and support local businesses.

 

“Not only this week, but every time you are shopping remember to always try to pay it forward and love your locals,” Hopkins said.

 

For more information, visit sba.gov/nsbw.

- See more at: http://www.vicksburgpost.com/2016/05/05/hopkins-small-businesses-are-the-backbone-of-our-community/#sthash.D8VLapVT.dpuf


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Carly Wilbanks of New Albany, MS, has been named the director of the New Albany Main Street Association.


The New Albany Main Street Association was designated a Mississippi Main Street Community in 1997. The Mississippi Main Street Association focuses on economic development and revitalization of Mississippi's historic business districts.


Wilbanks attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology. During her time at MSU, Wilbanks served as the secretarial assistant to Dr. Byron Williams. In 2015, Wilbanks worked at Pacifica Enterprises, Inc. in Rancho Santa Fe, CA as the administrative assistant to the chief financial officer and was most recently employed at Rutledge and Davis, P.L.L.C.


"Carly brings a wealth of knowledge of planning and executing projects and events," said Bob Spencer, president of the New Albany Main Street Association board of directors. "She is a great fit for this position."


Wilbanks served as the event coordinator for the Special Olympics at MSU and has experience in retail sales and fundraising. She is engaged to Van Cooper of New Albany.


Since New Albany was designated as a Mississippi Main Street Community, over $1.6 million in private investments and nearly $9 million in public investment have been reported. While the financial investment is an important component, Main Street programs are better known for improving quality of life for communities. Downtown revitalization promotes restoring those places that make New Albany unique that people connect to as well as fostering a vibrant business climate in the historic core of the town. Downtown is often referred to as the heart of the town, the part that encourages newcomers to visit or move to and locals choose to remain here.


In addition to being named one of the top Main Street programs in the state, the New Albany Main Street Association boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates state-wide and contributed to 92 new businesses and 227 new jobs. Over 10,000 volunteer hours have been logged and 51 buildings improved. The New Albany Main Street Association is a community partner with the Magnolia Civic Center, Union County Historical Museum, Junior Auxiliary, Biscuits and Jam Farmer's Market, Union County Development Association, New Albany Tourism, and numerous organizations. Some of the many visible projects as a result of the New Albany Main Street Association's efforts include decorative lighting, banners, landscaping, the Tanglefoot Trail plaza, benches, trash receptacles, Cooper Park design and maintenance, and decorative street signs.


For more information about the New Albany Main Street Association, please call (662) 534-3438.
 


These 13 Incredible Farmers Markets In Mississippi Are A Must Visit

When it comes to food, it doesn’t get any better than fresh, locally produced products. Luckily, there’s never a shortage of such items in Mississippi. From one of the largest farmers markets in the state to those that are located on actual farms, these 13 Mississippi farmers markets are a must visit.

Which Mississippi farmers market is your favorite?

 


Ocean Springs named to Smithsonian's list of `20 Best Small Towns to Visit'

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Ocean Springs has been named to The Smithsonian's annual list of the "20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016." (Smithsonian.com)
 
 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Smithsonian has named Ocean Springs to its fifth-annual "20 Best Small Towns to Visit for 2016."

In an article published Monday on Smithsonian.com, author Jackie Mansky notes the magazine focused this year's selection on small town located near U.S. National Parks in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

"Outside of these parks, home to stunning vistas and breathtaking wonders, are 'gateway towns': small communities that cater to the annual crowds with charming hotels, greasy spoons, local culture and innovative museums that tell fascinating stories," Mansky wrote.

"Each of these communities offer their own distinct and diverse histories, cultures, food and art—as well as happening to be close to the entrances to some of the United States' most prized heritage locations.

Ocean Springs is home to the Davis Bayou area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

In compiling the list, the Smithsonian utilized geographical information from Esri to identify towns with populations under 20,000 which were within driving range of a national park of a designated National Park Service location.

Lansky noted in the report that Ocean Springs has long been known as the "gem" of the Mississippi coast and also praised residents' "courage and resilience" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Today, Ocean Springs has rebuilt from the disaster, and tourists have flocked back to the city, which has the Gulf Islands National Seashore practically in its backyard," Lansky wrote. "The art scene in Ocean Springs rivals its outdoor sports scene, which is saying something as the bayou and the bay nearby offers idyllic boating, fishing and birding."

There were a couple of issues with the story, however. At one point Lansky refers to the city as "Oceans City," and also lists Aunt Jenny's Catfish House and The Shed as among the top local eateries. The Shed isn't actually in Ocean Springs.

Lansky also pointed out the city's 2013 Great American Main Street Award from the National Main Street Association, presented for "character, charm and culinary scene," as well as the Peter Anderson Festival and the Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade.

 


It’s personal for Executive Director Judi Holifield

 
Vote

I don’t often make things personal in public, but, as I considered what I wanted my Main Street family to hear, it seemed appropriate.

In the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan asks for advice from her email pal about her business. After the classic godfather reference—“Go to the mattresses”—he says, “It’s not personal it’s business.” Meg Ryan’s frustrated response: That just means it’s not personal to you.

Laurel, Mississippi is personal to me. It’s the town where I marched in my first parade as a Drum Major in 1969. It’s the town where the Laurel Retail Merchants Association supplied almost all of my outfits for a week in Washington D.C. when I won the Voice of Democracy speech writing competition. It didn’t seem to matter that I was Judi from Soso; they were proud, and I felt at home.

1977 began my teaching career at Northeast Jones High School, and I found my way back to downtown to help Clinton Harrington Piano Co. and the merchants desperately trying to survive Urban Renewal. I filmed TV commercials, co-hosted radio shows, did voiceovers, hosted street dances and battles of the bands and talent nights, and got all my choral friends to bring their choirs downtown to usher in the holidays.

Youth, ignorance, and a touch of tenacity aren’t always a successful combination. I had no clue how to do any of it, but “Fake it ‘til you make it” has served me well. And, for whatever reason, be it “Lord! We’d better stop her” or “Lord! We’d better help her,” I’ve always had help along the way.

In 1981, I brought my firstborn home to a gingerbread house on N 5th Ave. and learned the sidewalks of that area well as I strolled a colicky baby outside every evening in an effort to preserve my family’s collective sanity. I then left Laurel for the next 13 years.

In 1985, I appeared on national television representing Mississippi teachers in a strike. I coordinated with NBC throughout this time, lobbied the legislature, and spoke to districts encouraging them to walk out. I left teaching soon after.

In 1989, I returned to teaching, this time at Watkins High School, and worked in the Laurel school district until finishing my music educator career at Nora Davis Magnet School in 2002. I was offered a job directing the Whole Schools Initiative; I literally laughed in the face of the person making the offer. Well, I got the job.

Looking back, I’ve sometimes thought they wanted the program to fail, so they hired what they assumed was “country dumb.” However, we are the sum of our experiences, and the choice is always ours to make the most of ourselves; most of us just need to coach to tell us he thinks we can.

In my head, failure is not an option.

I know my connection to Laurel Main Street. My life has been several boxes of chocolates, and—because I’ve done it myself—I’m confident when I tell our local entrepreneurs and creatives to walk through the door and take the opportunity that’s in front of them. We’re here to help you figure it out and watch you ride the waves. It won’t last forever, and you’ll be glad you did it, whatever it is, for however long it lasts.

One great thing about being 62, I’ve eaten a lot of elephants: it’s always one bite at a time. That’s what I told Ben and Erin Napier when they were presented this unbelievable chance with HGTV. It’s personal; this is where we choose to live.

Honestly, I’m not sure we could have marketed ourselves into this position. We’ve done nothing to deserve this opportunity, so let’s do all we can as a community to graciously respond because “company’s comin’ y’all.”

Home Town will feature Laurel as a main character, and we are all players on this stage for a season. We’ve got a short time to prepare. Laurel Main Street is working hard to make sure we are all as ready as we can be, and some interesting changes will arrive soon. And if you want to help move our city forward, vote here to help us win the title of “America’s Main Street!”

We are a community of bootstraps and artisans; we are the town that timber built; we are Laurel, and, no matter how many times I leave, I always find my way back. It’s personal to all of us because this is our town, soon to be America’s hometown, and forever my hometown.

Thanks for reading,

Judi

 


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Pair Takes Reigns at Mississippi Main Street Association

JACKSON, Miss.—Stacy K. Pair of Gulfport, Miss., has been named the State Coordinator for Mississippi Main Street Association.  

Mississippi Main Street Association focuses on economic development and revitalization of Mississippi’s historic business districts.  

Pair began her Main Street career as the first local director for Philadelphia Main Street Association, in Philadelphia, Miss., more than 15 years ago.  Her family is largely from the Philadelphia, Miss. area where her mother’s side owns the well-known country store, Williams Brothers.

From Philadelphia, she went on to work for Colonial Williamsburg and Corning, Inc. In Corning, NY, Pair was the President and Executive Director of the successful Gaffer District, as well as manager of the downtown Business Improvement District.  She returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast just six weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Pair has been very involved with downtown revitalization and preservation issues.  She has served on the board of Mississippi Heritage Trust and was the chair of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Preservation Task Force immediately following Hurricane Katrina.  She worked directly with Governor Haley Barbour’s office in the months after Katrina, acting as an advocate for saving and restoring the Gulf Coast’s hard hit historic downtown districts.

Pair has consulted with many communities across the country and has been a speaker at several national forums.  She completed the training required by the National Main Street Center to become a Nationally Certified Main Street Professional in 2006.

Mississippi Main Street Association currently has offices in Jackson, Columbus, Oxford and Gulfport.


Meridian Main Street: Imagine our future

  • By Karen Rooney Executive Director, Meridian Main Street

Part of Profile 2016

Imagine coming downtown for the 2018 Mardi Gras Parade. What will you see? How will your experience be different from now?  

Imagine that your friends who have come in town to visit, stayed overnight at the beautifully restored Art Deco masterpiece, the Threefoot Building, in one of the new Courtyard by Marriot suites.  

Your daughter, who is attending the School of Kinesiology at MSU downtown, joins you for the parade, which you view from the balcony of her new BellSouth Building apartment, which faces the beautifully decorated city hall lawn. You marvel at all of the beautifully restored streets and buildings.  

You try to remember what it looked like just five years earlier, and it all seems a distant gloomy memory. Then all of your friends enjoyed the Meridian Main Street Mardi Gras events all afternoon, and end the evening by attending one of the many live music venues downtown.

The next day, after having breakfast at one of the new coffee shops, you show off the new magnificent wonder, the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, to your out of town friends.

After experiencing a taste of all the arts of Mississippi, you have a lively discussion concerning where you are going to have lunch, because there are so many options.

After lunch, you indulge in some serious shopping, marveling at how many new stores there are, as well as how many have become downtown traditions, such as The Liberty Shop, Loeb's, and LaBiche. Exhausted from shopping, the kids clamor for ice cream at one of the new ice cream parlors.

Your delighted friends ask, “So what are we doing tomorrow?”  Well, you reply “We still haven't seen that concert at the Temple Theater or that new play at the Riley Center. And, of course, we must see the new exhibits at the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum and the Meridian Museum of Art.”

It's hard to believe that people once said there was nothing to do in Meridian!

Downtown Meridian has experienced incredible growth and change during the last two years.  We, at Meridian Main Street, started off 2015 by announcing, 40 new privilege licenses were granted in 2014 and more than $8 million was invested by downtown property owners. 2015 ended with façade enhancements, complete building restorations and new and exciting plans for 19 neglected buildings!

In addition 26 new privilege licenses were granted and an additional $14 million was invested by property owners during 2015. The future is looking very bright for 2016, with exciting plans for 16 buildings in downtown.

In January, Mississippi Main Street conducted the Backstage Pass Conference in Meridian for Main Street managers across Mississippi, as well as other event planners.  They are in the unique position to see what is current and developing in 51 different downtown associations in Mississippi, as well as what is happening nationally.  They were very impressed with all downtown Meridian has accomplished during the last couple of years.   According to Stacy Pair, director of administration/Mississippi State Coordinator, “this type of growth is unprecedented.  Nothing short of a miracle.”  Jan Miller, Director of Field Services, said she was, “blown away by how beautiful and dynamic downtown Meridian had become over the last two years”.  

There are many reasons for this growth and many people behind this miracle. There are city leaders, county leaders, individual investors, developers and business leaders who have championed the revitalization of downtown Meridian. In addition Meridian has Meridian Main Street (MMS). For several years now, MMS has been consistently promoting and helping to develop downtown. Downtown is our only focus.

Meridian Main Street has been providing support to the local developers and business owners as part of an Economic Development Program, as well as creating events that bring thousands to downtown Meridian. Events such as Mardi Gras, Merry Meridian, Earth’s Bounty, Candy Crawl, Kid’s Art Crawl, and the Just Start It! Entrepreneurs series. Each of these events, as well as individual stories about the low crime statistics for downtown, has kept downtown in the spotlight.

Downtown has been the setting for many other large events that bring in thousands of dollars and people such as the State Games of Mississippi, the Jimmie Rodgers Festival, the Hwy 59/20 festival, and the Mini Maker Faire at Soulé. All of this activity brings vitality to downtown and has encouraged development and investment.

Meridian Main Street's Promotional Program creates events designed to improve our quality of life, rekindle community pride, improve consumer and investor confidence in our downtown commercial district, and create awareness and excitement about downtown.  Advertising, retail promotions, special events and marketing campaigns help to communicate our district's unique characteristics, business establishments, and activities.  

Our Economic Restructuring Program strengthens our existing economic assets, while diversifying our economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding successful businesses and attracting new businesses that the market can support. MMS is working directly with developers and building owners to help them move their projects forward. Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district.

The goal of our design program includes getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors. MMS has been working with public works on street lighting and working with the police to make sure there is adequate police presence downtown. When you walk downtown and see beautiful, large flower urns, you can thank the Design Committee. This beautification project for downtown includes more than 30 large flower urns displayed in front of participating businesses.

The fourth point of our approach is organization. Our organization goes way beyond our employees, Karen Rooney and Debby Delshad, and intern.  Main Street cannot accomplish all that we have without our army of dedicated volunteers, our members, our corporate sponsors and board of directors, the city of Meridian, Phil Hardin Foundation, Lauderdale County, and our wonderful, local media partners.  

The Meridian Main Street Board includes Alisha Bailey, Von Burt, Bubba Hannah, Ron Harper, Beverley Hearn, Dustin Hill, Robb Hudson, Tricia LaBiche, Terri McKelviane, Reginald Mnzava and Buster Thomas.

Looking forward in 2016

The future is looking very bright for 2016 in downtown, Meridian.  Here are some of the expectations and plans for the coming year, according to Meridian Main Street.

— In December, the City of Meridian unveiled the strategic development plan for the new Meridian Health District.  This will be a very positive change for Meridian, linking the hospital district with the commercial district.

— On Jan. 7, John Tampa officially received the keys to the art deco masterpiece, the 16-story Threefoot Building.  During this next year, we look forward to seeing construction begin on the 120 room Courtyard by Marriot.

— The Thrash Building, across from LaBiche Jewelers, has been renovated by owner Tim Allred into a beautiful bridal store for Faulkenbery’s, which opened in January.

— Construction has begun on the MAEE and we can look forward to construction traffic during the next year, but the result will be worth it.

— During 2015, Tim Hester, who had completed some restorations in Tupelo, returned to Meridian to purchase the 78,000 sq. ft. Hulett Building, which had been empty for five years.  This new interiors market and climate controlled storage business has plans for 2016 to include an event venue space and ultimately a boutique hotel.

— The iconic Kress building, which has been empty 30 years, will be finished with renovations this fall and will house the new MSU-Meridian Kinesiology program, house teaching labs, research labs, offices, state-of-the-art classrooms, new technology for students and another library.

— Mitch and Kristen Marshall will be opening up Little C’s convenience store and coffee shop in the Gaitlin-Williams Building on Front Street in February. This store will feature some products from  Earth’s Bounty vendors. They are also renovating the Standard Coffee building, on the corner of Constitution and Front Street for Yates Construction.

— The Trustmark building, which sits next to the Threefoot Building, is receiving a $1.5 million facelift.

— According to Jay Adcock, owner of U Need It Antiques and Auctions, which opened in the formerly-boarded up Southern Showroom at the foot of the 22nd Avenue Bridge, the move to downtown has increased his business greatly and he is looking forward to Meridian being a travel destination for antique hunters.

— BellSouth Building is being developed into 27 luxury apartments by Clarence Chapman and will be available in about 12 months.

— Meridian Underground Music, owned by Wayne Williams, is celebrating 20 years in downtown by doubling the size of his Eighth Street store, expanding into two adjacent buildings.

— Hill Real Estate Company, which opened downtown in 2014, doubled their location in 2015, and then in January announced that they are the largest local realty company. Dustin Hill attributes part of this amazing growth to being located downtown.

— The Pigford Building is being renovated into the Venue by Elic Purvis.  Elic returned to Meridian to be part of this amazing revitalization.

— The old Downtown Club, The Raynor, The Bible Book Store, and the McKee Glass buildings have been purchased with plans being announced soon.

— The Meridian Mini-Maker Faire, held at Soulé, is predicted to triple in size this coming May.

— A group of locals have been working with the Mississippi Children’s Museum to bring a children’s museum to downtown.

— Road construction will continue downtown, with 22nd Avenue next on the agenda.

— Meridian Main street will be hosting a Downtown Residential Workshop this spring to encourage upper floor apartment development.

For more information on Meridian Main Street visit the website www.meridianstreet.com, or call (601) 693-7480. The office is located at 2120-A Main Street (Fifth Street) in downtown Meridian.

 

 


Saltillo Main Street ready to get to work

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith began lobbying for the town to join the Mississippi Main Street Association about a year ago. While he asked to join as an associate member, the Saltillo Board of Alderman decided to spend the extra money to become a full member.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith began lobbying for the town to join the Mississippi Main Street Association about a year ago. While he asked to join as an associate member, the Saltillo Board of Alderman decided to spend the extra money to become a full member.

By William Moore

Daily Journal

SALTILLO – Lindsey Hines has wanted to sing Saltillo’s praises since she moved to town more than a decade ago. As the city’s new Main Street director, she now has the chance.

“I have waited on this opportunity,” Hines said. “I am excited to be on the ground floor as we start.”

Saltillo formally became the 52nd member of the Mississippi Main Street Association Tuesday morning. In the coming months, officials with the state organization will spend plenty of time in Saltillo, trying to develop a strategy to help the town.

“Over the next few months, we will work closely with Lindsey to gather information and get things organized,” said MMSA field services director Jan Miller. “We will bring in a resource team, probably in the later summer, and they will spend three or four days in town.”

Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith pushed for the city to join MMSA and wants to find a way to pull together the traditional downtown of Mobile Street along with the new business corridor of Highway 145.

“Folks talk about Old Saltillo and New Saltillo,” Smith said. “That bothers me. I just want it to be one Saltillo.”

The mayor wants the city to tap into folks passing through or close by the city of 4,500 people. A traffic study showed 13,000 cars a day travel Highway 145 and another 40,000 pass by on U.S. 45.

“We’ve got the Natchez Trace less than a mile away and Lake Lamar Bruce just outside the city limits,” Smith said. “We have so many resources, there is no reason for us to fail.”

The cost of joining MMSA is steep on the front end – $10,000 for the first year tapering down to $2,000 annually after the fourth year. In exchange, the city will receive a wealth of information, training and assistance.

According to MMSA, designated Main Street communities receive a minimum of $25,000 in technical assistance during the first year alone. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $4 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities.

william.moore@journalinc.com

 

Local City receives Main Street Designation

By Wayne Hereford

WTVA

SALTILLO, Miss.  (WTVA)—Residents and local leaders were all smiles at an official designation ceremony for Saltillo's Main Street program Tuesday.

The program has proven to be a successful one for many cities and towns across the state.

Leaders are hoping that same type of success happens here.

"You know, there's no way that I feel that we can go wrong with it. Of course we have to do our part, and we’re committing to do that," said Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith.

As part of that commitment Smith says the city has already hired a Main Street Director, Lindsey Hines.

"Being a member of Mississippi Main Street opens us up to all kinds of resources with design and economic vitality. It helps us with our historic preservation," she said. 

"It will help our image overall from the community's point of view, and help our citizens and just help us all to be a bigger better family up here," replied Second District Lee County Supervisor Mike Smith.

City officials say that Saltillo is already showing growth both in its historic downtown area as well as the growing business section on Highway 145. 

But, officials admit that the Main Street designation, like the growing business sector, has not happened over night.

"It takes a year, as I said, for the application process. Now, how long does it take to become a Tupelo? They’ve had a Main Street program for 30 years," said Stacy Pair of Mississippi Main Street.

"We're going to be working hard to make big things happen," said Mayor Smith.

Main Street officials say the program provides technical, architectural, and other services.

They say Saltillo is now part of a network of some 1,800 Main Street members across the country.

- See more at: http://www.wtva.com/news/Saltillo_Main_Street_Designation_.html#sthash.4JZIdRnj.dpuf

 


National Main Street program aims to 'refresh' Biloxi

By Steve Phillips
WLOX

 

Biloxi is one of 10 cities chosen nationwide that will benefit from the vision and knowledge of experienced planners with the Main Street program.  (Photo source: WLOX)

Biloxi is one of 10 cities chosen nationwide that will benefit from the vision and knowledge of experienced planners with the Main Street program. (Photo source: WLOX)

 

At a city hall news conference Thursday afternoon, the visitors talked about their favorable impressions of Biloxi and the promise and possibilities they see for future progress. (Photo source: WLOX)

At a city hall news conference Thursday afternoon, the visitors talked about their favorable impressions of Biloxi and the promise and possibilities they see for future progress. (Photo source: WLOX)

 

Biloxi is uniquely positioned to draw upon its history and geographic location to enhance both tourism and economic development. (Photo source: WLOX)

Biloxi is uniquely positioned to draw upon its history and geographic location to enhance both tourism and economic development. (Photo source: WLOX)

 

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

 

Biloxi is uniquely positioned to draw upon its history and geographic location to enhance both tourism and economic development. That assessment comes from visiting planners who've spent the past two days surveying the city as part of the National Main Street's "refresh" program.

 

Biloxi is one of 10 cities chosen nationwide that will benefit from the vision and knowledge of experienced planners with the Main Street program.

 

At a city hall news conference Thursday afternoon, the visitors talked about their favorable impressions of Biloxi and the promise and possibilities they see for future progress and economic development.

 

Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich told the group, "We are all passionate about this city and would like to see another 300 years of this being a special place."

 

The planners will take their suggestions and compile them into a report that will be presented during a future visit in the next 18 months.

 

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

 

 


Mississippi film company shows off small-town successes

 
Royce Swayze, Clarion-Ledger
 

Many small town success stories have a difficult time making it past the city limits, but one Mississippi-based documentary film company recently made the first step at changing how these tales of success are told.

At the Oxford Film Festival last weekend, Blue Magnolia Films introduced four short documentaries that depict how Mississippi small-town businesses are revitalizing and inspiring their communities.

From an artisan ice cream company in the Delta to a beer brewery in Water Valley, these films explored and offered an inside look at how businesses are buying locally and employing locally to spur community growth, and by doing so, forging the state’s creative economy.

Hearing about how these startup companies ignited economic and cultural growth inspired Jackson native Chandler Griffin and his wife Alison Fast — the founders of Blue Magnolia Films — to spread these success stories to every corner of the state.

So with the help of state agencies like the Mississippi Main Street Association, Mississippi Film Office, the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission, the couple set out to make 25 films highlighting small-town success stories leading up to the state’s bicentennial in 2017.

The screening at this year’s Oxford Film Festival was their official premiere. The group's entries won the competition’s coveted audience award. And while Griffin said it’s important to show the story, he said it’s equally important to talk about it.

“It’s all centered around the conversation,” said Griffin. “If you don’t have a conversation afterwards, then the film’s useless.”

Griffin explained that’s how Blue Magnolia Films would achieve its intended effect — by sparking a dialogue among audience members in the hope that, in some way, they’ll go back and embolden their own communities.

After the screening in Oxford, a panel of some of the business owners featured in the documentaries was led by former director of Mississippi tourism Malcolm White, who’s returning to lead the Mississippi Arts Commission in March, in a discussion about their businesses and their role in molding the state’s creative economy.

One of those business owners, Andy O’Bryan, founder of Yalobusha Brewing Company in Water Valley, spoke about how his company started out from scratch and has grown to selling beer throughout the entire state and in Louisiana and, most recently, Tennessee. Eventually, O’Bryan wants to market his product in every state that has a Southeastern Conference football program.

But for now, his mission still lies in winning over beer lovers from the big-name brands.

“If I can convert one person from drinking a Budweiser product to drinking mine,” O’Bryan said “…that’s creating a job, that’s helping us grow,  that’s adding new tanks, it’s helping Water Valley, and it’s helping Mississippi, one person at a time.”

The panel elicited numerous questions from the audience who engaged the entrepreneurs with inquiries about their businesses, and it was just what Griffin and Fast wanted.

“It was great,” said Griffin. “It wasn’t a huge crowd, but … there was a lot of conversation. A lot of dialogue, a lot of back and forth, and that’s way more important than having 500 people where no one asks questions.”

Once all 25 films are completed, Griffin and Fast will tour them around the state to 40 small cities in what Fast describes as a “rolling, small-town film festival.”

As Griffin and Fast complete the remaining films in the series, they do so with the mission of spotlighting the small-town success stories that are transforming and inspiring the state of Mississippi. And by spreading the word through film, they fully expect these documentaries to make a difference in small towns.

“We consider these films to belong to you,” said Fast, “this is for Mississippi; it’s not for anybody else.”

 


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National Main Street ‘Refresh’ program begins this week in Biloxi

First series of site visits to be held Feb. 24-25, 2016


BILOXI, Miss. ~  Biloxi Main Street District was one of seven national programs selected as a demonstration site by the National Main Street Center, Inc. to carry out community revitalization and preservation based economic development techniques.


“Biloxi is just now, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, recovering,” said Kay Miller, Main Street Director/Downtown Services Manager of Biloxi. “Downtown development has been in the works and the ‘Refresh’ project is beginning at the perfect time. Biloxi is soon to be very up and coming in the very close future.”


Kathy LaPlante, Senior Program Officer with the National Main Street Center, and Kennedy Smith, who is best known as the longest-serving director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center, will be conducting the Biloxi Refresh program.


Biloxi has invited local leaders to take part in the first two-day revitalization efforts, to plan and execute long-term strategic action, and effectively measure the outcome for downtown Biloxi. 

 
The two days will consist of a tour of the district and community, strategizing sessions with city officials and will close on Thursday with a Press Conference at Biloxi City Hall at 1 p.m.



The communities selected will receive 12 to 18 months of free hands-on technical and community assistance from experts nationwide, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


For more details of the nationwide refresh project and its upcoming role in the City of Biloxi, visit preservationation.org/mainstreet or mainstreetbiloxi.com.
 

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 SALTILLO SELECTED AS 52ND MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET COMMUNITY
 

JACKSON, Miss.—On Tuesday, March 8, the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) will designate the city of Saltillo, Miss., as an official Mississippi Main Street community.
 
The designation ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in the Community Room at City Hall. There will be a public reception immediately following the designation.

"We are excited about becoming a member of Mississippi Main Street," said Rex Smith, Mayor of Saltillo. "We are looking forward to having all of their resources and expertise available as we work to make the City of Saltillo an even better place to live, work, shop and raise a family."

"We are so excited to have Saltillo join the Mississippi Main Street program," said Suzanne Smith, MMSA Board President. "They have worked a long time on their application and are very ready to get started. We are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with Saltillo as a Main Street community."

Speakers at the designation will include: Honorable Rex Smith, Mayor of Saltillo; Suzanne Smith, MMSA Board President, Joy Foy, Director of Asset Development Division, Mississippi Development Authority; and Jan Miller, MMSA Director of Field Services.

Saltillo Community Director Lindsey Roper Hines will direct the Saltillo Main Street program.

"I am so thankful for this opportunity with the City of Saltillo," Hines said. "I know that being a Mississippi Main Street member is going to help Saltillo reach our full potential in all aspects!"
 
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5th Annual Back Stage Pass Conference

WTOK - Meridian

A vibrant downtown is a thriving downtown. Festivals and events that take place along main streets in downtown communities help not only spur economic development but promote tourism. Leaders from across Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana were doing just that, learning how to build and grow successful festivals and events in various home towns.

 

“We train them on the current trends of downtown revitalization. How to improve their downtowns. How to attract tourists. How to help their businesses flourish downtown. So our training gears to making your downtown revitalized, sustainable and thriving,” explained Jeannie Zieren, Director of Training and Information Services with the Mississippi Main Street Association.

 

The two-day conference allowed leaders from various communities both local and state wide, to work together by sharing ideas on how to help their towns grow, but is also brought together professional exhibitors and creative and preforming artists so they can showcase what they have to offer.

 

“We want to bring them to these event planners and showcase what they have to offer and hopefully they will get hired and they will get to go to these communities and share their expertise and maybe make some money. We really want to support our creative economy artists,” explained Zieren.

 

This conference not only impacts towns across the state, it also impacts our local community. With over a dozen Meridian event planners and organizers in attendance all with the goal of learning how to make our Queen City prosper.

 

“The local residents should be excited about the fact that event planners in Meridian are committed in making their events even better. Making it appeal to more individuals while bringing more people into our community and spend dollars in our community which is always our goal,” Dede Mogollon, Executive Director of Meridian/Lauderdale County Tourism.

 

At the end of the day every piece of knowledge learned will help build local community character and help community leaders contribute to the creative economy and the quality of life.


A Water Valley Main Street Revival Evolves Into Boom Town

A mural greets residents and guests at the mouth of Main Street in Water Valley, Mississippi. Photo by Jeff McVay

A mural greets residents and guests at the mouth of Main Street in Water Valley, Mississippi.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Back in the 70s, back in the days of gas rationing and the creeping understanding that the US’s dependency on imported crude oil was literally out of control; off shore oil rigs sprang up in Houston, Texas, like private schools in Memphis during the days of desegregation.

Hundreds of them sent blue collar working men and women flocking to the Houston area to cash in… literally. Jobs were plentiful and paid well, so why not? Boom Town – as Houston became known – had arrived.

Lafayette County already has its version of Houston (Oxford) and we swell and relax as the seasons change and as our UM students dictate. But what about our neighboring counties: Yalobusha, Marshall, Tate, Lee or Panaloa?

Well, one for sure – Yalobusha County – has firmly established itself as a North Mississippi Boom Town over the past two or three years, an undebatable fact as the small town of Water Valley and its fewer than 4,000 residents have rolled up their sleeves and plunged the area into a revitalization and restoration blitz.

The vigorous downtown development mission (Water Valley Main Street Association) perpetually works to improve the area, spur economic development and provide a plethora of entertainment opportunities for residents and its cousins from the north (Oxford).

Base Camp Academy co-founder Kagan Coughlin. Photo by Jeff McVay

Base Camp Academy co-founder Kagan Coughlin.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Arguably, one of the most essential proponents of the Boom Town blitz is 10-year Valley resident Kagan Coughlin who has in the past few years dumped a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources into several ventures in the Main Street district (more on these below).

Art (and music) seem to be the conceptual themes with numerous studios and music venues popping up around the downtown area: Yalobusha Brewing Co., Bozarts, Yalo Studios and Gallery and Rip it Up (the newest studio in the Valley which is owned and operated by Oxford-based musicians Tyler Keith and Laurie Stirratt). Water Valley conveniently packages all of its art-themed residents and businesses into an annual event – an Art Crawl – which features approximately 20 “art studios” and 40 individual artists within walking distance of the downtown area.

Bozarts Gallery is located at 403 North Main Street in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

Bozarts Gallery is located at 403 North Main Street in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Down the street from the galleries, new dining and drinking establishments have popped up as well.

The extremely popular Crawdad Hole (restaurant) opened in 2011 and features seafood and Cajun and Creole foods, definite favorites anywhere you venture in North Mississippi. The restaurant is handsomely housed in a former gas station and features boiled crawfish, shrimp, po’ boys, and – best of all – Yalo brew. The Crawdad Hole is open Thursday-Sunday and can be found on Facebook where they post weekly specials and other gems.

Crawdad Hole

Crawdad Hole

Ah… and what can you say about Yalobusha Brewing Co. that hasn’t already been said? AMAZING comes to mind – and delicious.

The production brewery – North Mississippi’s first, opened in 2013 in the vintage Hendricks Machine Shop – has now branched out into their version of a casual music venue complete with the flow of gallons of Yalo brew as well as North Mississippi’s best country, rock, bluegrass and blues music. The event – titled Brewery Tours Tasting and Tunes – has been a regular staple for just over a month, but is already being known as THE thing to do on a Friday evening in North Mississippi. Yalobusha Brewing Co. is located at 102 Main Street in Water Valley. Visit YaloBrew.com for more information.

Yalobusha Brewing Co. features 'Brewery Tours Tasting and Tunes' Friday evenings at 6 . Photo courtesy of Yalobusha Brewing Co.

Yalobusha Brewing Co. features ‘Brewery Tours Tasting and Tunes’ Friday evenings at 6 .
Photo courtesy of Yalobusha Brewing Co.

Yalobusha Brewing Co is a commanding fixture in Water Valley, Mississippi. Photo by Jeff McVay

Yalobusha Brewing Co is a commanding fixture in Water Valley, Mississippi.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Alexe Van Beuren (left) and chef Dixie Grimes spearhead the day-to-day operation of B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley.

Alexe Van Beuren (left) and chef Dixie Grimes spearhead the day-to-day operation of B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley.

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery on Main Street is yet another Water Valley jewel that must be seen… as well as tasted (see photos and video below). The establishment, owned and operated by Coughlin’s wife Alexe Van Beuren and business partner/co-owner/chef Dixie Grimes, experienced humble beginnings in 2010 after a massive restoration effort, showcasing fresh produce and other basic staples supplied by nearby farmers. Today – while it still features fresh, local produce (some of which is donated by amiable Water Valley farmers… just because) – the iconic grocery has added hearty breakfasts and plate lunches to its repertoire including soups and sandwiches made to order by chef Grimes and staff. Need a vintage adding machine or Polaroid camera? Yep… you can find those in the iconic “grocery” store as well (along with other amazing relics and antiques from a humble North Mississippi bygone era). Just go and you’ll see for yourself because these written words can’t possibly do the place justice.

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Chef Dixie Grimes' menu at B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

Chef Dixie Grimes’ menu at B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Kagen Coughlin (left) chats with Kevin Guyer at B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Photo by Jeff McVay

Kagan Coughlin (left) chats with Kevin Guyer at B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Reaching deep into its versatile genre art bag, Water Valley Main Street attracts history buffs in droves to the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum located across the street from the Yalobusha Brewing Co. Housed on the site of the former Illinois Central Railroad Depot, the museum is open Thursday-Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum Photo by Jeff McVay

Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum
Photo by Jeff McVay

Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum Photo by Jeff McVay

Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum
Photo by Jeff McVay


Economically, The Valley is also booming. Even though the town is considered by many to be a community possessing a “quite charm,” it also attracts those who are interested in the purchase of affordable housing as real estate prices average far below those in Oxford (only a short 20 miles north).

Coughlin and Van Beuren have also embraced the real estate facet of the revival, opening the Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley. These refurbished 2-floor studio-type apartments feature high planked ceilings (no popcorn on these babies), central (digital) heat and air, and ancient wooden floors perfect for young families, seasonal guests or even UM students willing to commute to Oxford. Again, the difference (other than a 20-minute commute) is a price tag that is fraction of what townhomes in Lafayette County (and more specifically, Oxford) go for these days. And, Coughlin says that your pups are welcome (unless – as in my case – that pup is a 200-pound Great Dane). “I’ll have to give that a little more thought,” Coughlin said.

The back entrance of the Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

The back entrance of the Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

A second floor balcony at Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

A second floor balcony at Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Inside the Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

Inside the Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley
Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley
Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley Photo by Jeff McVay

Blu-Buck Mercantile Hotel, Water Valley
Photo by Jeff McVay

Jobs and careers in the township are plentiful, fueled by such entities as BorgWarner manufacturing plant, Water Valley Poultry, Valley Tool, Mechanics Bank and Yalobusha General Hospital & Nursing Home, and of course, the Water Valley School District led by Dr. Michael McInnis.

New to the economic boom in Water Valley, Base Camp Coding Academy entered the picture last year and was founded by Glen Evans and (who else?) Kagan Coughlin. HottyToddy.com will pick apart the new academy in an forthcoming feature as it gets closer to opening its doors to a new generation of high school graduates.

An ambitious date of June 1 is planned by Base Camp Coding Academy to begin training the newest wave of coders expected to be released on Mississippi after an intense year of training.

Base Camp Coding Academy is headquartered directly above B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley. Photo by Jeff McVay

Base Camp Coding Academy is headquartered directly above B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley.
Photo by Jeff McVay

“Water Valley is a place where folks are excited to welcome new people and pull them into the community,” Coughlin said. “If you want to start something here, it can be shocking to see the amount of support and well-wishing you receive. People genuinely want you to succeed because they’re nice, and because there’s a core feeling that everyone wants what’s best for the community, and they appreciate you for contributing.”

Kagan Coughlin and Kevin Guyer chat at B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Photo by Jeff McVay

Kagan Coughlin and Kevin Guyer chat at B.T.C. Grocery in Water Valley on Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Photo by Jeff McVay

Well done, Mr. Coughlin. That about sums it up.

To infinity and beyond, Water Valley.

For more information about Base Camp Coding Academy, contact Kagan Coughlin at Kagan@basecampcodingacademy.org or Glen Evans at glen@basecampcodingacademy.org.

 


NEW MEMBERS ELECTED TO MISS. MAIN STREET BOARD OF DIRECTORS

JACKSON, Miss.—Three new members have been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors.


Ed Gardner, Jr., Director of Business and Economic Development of Entergy in Jackson and Keith A. Williams, Mississippi Regional President of Hancock Bank in Gulfport have both been elected to the state board.


Also, Jennifer Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership in Starkville has been elected by fellow MMSA Directors to serve as the 2016-2017 Directors' Representative on the state board.


Gardner recently joined Entergy Mississippi as the Director of Economic Development. He came to Entergy from PowerSouth Energy Cooperative where he worked for five years as the economic development representative for Northwest Florida. Prior to joining PowerSouth, Gardner worked as Vice President of Economic Development and Workforce at the Birmingham Business Alliance in Birmingham, Ala. Gardner also has more than 13 years of local economic development experience with the City of Auburn, Ala. and Pell City, Ala.


Williams serves as Mississippi Regional President for Hancock Bank where he is responsible for all lines of business in the state. He joined Hancock Bank in 1987 and has held a number of management positions through the years. He is President of the Gulfport Planning Commission, serves on the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association and the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association, the Revelers Carnival Association and is President of the Bayou Bluff Tennis Club. He is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi, Leadership Gulf Coast and the Gulf Coast Business Council's Master's Program.


Gregory is the CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership (GSDP) in Starkville. The combination of Gregory's event planning experience and professional experience in marketing has led to a new approach to the tourism program at the GSDP, since joining the organization in 2009. Working with a team to create successful events like Pumkinpalooza and Starkville Restaurant Week has provided Starkville with unprecedented notoriety and publicity in print and online media outlets. Because of the growth of the Starkville CVB and the creation of the Starkville Main Street Association, tourism spending in Starkville has increased 50 percent in five years.


Gregory joins Lori Tucker, Executive Director of Baldwyn Main Street Chamber who is serving through 2016 as Directors' Representative on the board.
Directors' Representatives serve two-year terms and represent the 51 Main Street programs in Mississippi on the state board.



The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. The 2016 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:
Board President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank; President-elect Matthew McLaughlin of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.; Treasurer Joey Hudnall of Neel-Schaffer; Past President Mark Loughman of Mississippi Power; Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development; Hilary Burroughs, Sanderson Farms, Inc.; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Mayor Chip Johnson, City of Hernando; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Ed Gardner, Entergy; Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership; Lori Tucker, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber; Katie Blount, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leland Speed, EastGroup/Parkway Properties; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Glenn McCullough of the Mississippi Development Authority; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; John Poros, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University; and Joy Foy of the Mississippi Development Authority.


 
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The Mississippi Main Street Association is a program of the National Main Street Center, Inc., and the Mississippi Development Authority with many allied partners and investors. Main Street is an economic development program based in historic preservation. The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to provide visionary leadership, guidance and counsel to Mississippi Main Street communities through organization, promotion, design and economic development to make our cities and towns better places to work, live and play.
 

 


Meridian Main Street reflects on successful year

From Staff Reports | Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2016 4:05 am

Meridian Main Street reflects on successful year

Comparing this corner in downtown Meridian to its Google Map image from June 2013 shows one dramatic improvement to the srea. The thousands of people who pass the corner daily are  seeing signs of life instead of a kicked-in, boarded-up door.

Meridian Main Street looks back at 2015, forward to 2016

    There was a lot of change and growth in downtown Meridian in 2015. With the improvements, there were some growing pains, such as ongoing road work, but those temporary inconveniences were offset by new businesses and activity pointing to even more growth, according to Karen Rooney, executive director of Meridian Main Street.

    At its 2015 annual meeting, the organization announced 40 new privilege licenses were granted in 2014 and more than $8 million was invested by property owners.  

    By the end of 2015, there were façade enhancements, complete building restorations and new plans for 19 neglected buildings. In addition, 26 new privilege licenses were granted and an additional $14 million was invested by property owners during 2015.  

    The new year shows promise of even more downtown growth, with plans for 16 buildings, according to Rooney.  

    According to figures published by Mississippi Main Street, Meridian Main Street is just one of 51 Main Street organizations, but Meridian garnered 12.5% of net new businesses and 10% of all building renovations.

    "These numbers indicate Meridian, along with Meridian Main Street, are setting and achieving goals for the revitalization of downtown," Rooney said.       “Meridian has been blessed with locals like Tommy Dulaney and the Mississippi Art and Entertainment Experience board, who have championed the $44 million world class cultural experience; as well as local developers, such as Tim Allred and Mitch and Kristin Marshal, who have been willing to invest their money into revitalizing our beautiful old buildings," Rooney added.  

    "We also have long time business owners such as LaBiche Jewelers and Meridian Underground Music who have made significant investments in their property," Rooney said. "We have a Community Development Department that has been helping to overcome obstacles as,  opposed to create obstacles to development. We also have a great tourism department that is actively promoting Meridian to potential visitors. In addition, Meridian Main Street has been providing support to the local developers and business owners as part of an economic development program, as well as creating events that bring thousands to downtown Meridian."

    Another example that points to a downtown on the rebound is the attendance and participation in events put on by the organization, Rooney said.

    “Our annual Mardi Gras celebration was bigger than ever for 2015, bringing thousands to downtown," Debby Delshad, the program manager for Meridian Main Street, said.

    "In addition to people and pet parades, live music, a Mardi Gras store and gumbo and chili cook off, in 2015, we added an art education component for elementary school kids featuring the creation of Mardi Gras shoe box floats. The theme of the floats had to match up with literary works they were studying in school."     

    This year, Mardi Gras is set for Feb. 6, and Delshad hopes that particiapation tops last year's event.

    Other events like Earth’s Bounty, Candy Crawl, Kid’s Art Crawl, and the Just Start It! Entrepreneurs series held in 2015 drew not just Meridian natives but people from neighboring counties and states.  

    Earth’s Bounty provided a venue for 30 vendors to sell their goods and brought in about $75,000 in sales dollars for these vendors.  

    Downtown has also been the setting for many other large events that bring in thousands of dollars and people, according to Rooney.

    Those events include the State Games of Mississippi, the Jimmie Rodgers Festival, the Hwy 59/20 festival, and the Mini Maker Faire at Soulé Steam Feed Works.

Big year planned

    Looking ahead into 2016, Rooney says there are many projects already underway that show that the growth in Meridian will continue.

    She pointed to the strategic development plan for a proposed Meridian Health District unveiled in December.  

    “This will be a very positive change for Meridian, linking the hospital district with the commercial district.” she said.As well as construction, Rooney said there are some favorite events that are returning in 2016.

    The Meridian Mini-Maker Faire is predicted to triple in size in May, and Meridian Main street will again host a Downtown Residential Workshop this spring to encourage upper floor apartment and residential living development.

    To learn more about Meridian Main Street and find additional information about the upcoming Meridian Mardi Gras, visit www.meridianmainstreet.com.

Looking Ahead at Meridian Main Street

    On Jan. 7, developer John Tampa received the keys to the Threefoot Building, and has reached out to the MSU-Riley Center to work with them to build on the common ground they share as residents of downtown Meridian.

    Another high profile project, according to Rooney, is the Thrash Building, which has been renovated into a bridal store for Faulkenbery’s, which opened this month.

    Other active projects that will make significant contributions to downtown Meridian, according to Rooney, include:

    • Construction has begun on the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience.

    • During 2015, Tim Hester purchased the 78,000 sq. ft. Hulett building, which had been empty for five years. This new business has plans to include an event venue space and ultimately a boutique hotel.

    • The Kress building, which has been empty for 30 years, will be finished with renovations this fall and will house the new MSU-Meridian Kinesiology program, house teaching labs, research labs, offices, classrooms, new technology and another library.

    • Mitch and Kristen Marshall will be opening Little C’s convenience store and coffee shop in the Gaitlin-Williams Building on Front Street in February. This store will feature some products from Earth’s Bounty vendors. They are also renovating the Standard Coffee building, on the corner of Constitution and Front Street.  

    • The Trustmark building is receiving a $1.5 million facelift. According to Jay Adcock, the owner of U Need It Antiques and Auctions, which opened in the formerly boarded up Southern Showroom at the foot of the 22nd Avenue bridge, the move to downtown has increased his business greatly and he is looking forward to Meridian being a travel destination for antique hunters.

    • The Bellsouth Building is being developed into 27 luxury apartments and will be available in about a year.

    • Meridian Underground Music is celebrating 20 years by doubling the size of its store and expanding into two adjacent buildings.

    • Hill Real Estate Company, which opened downtown in 2014, doubled their location in 2015, and then in January announced that they are the largest local realty company.

• The Pigford Building is being renovated into "The Venue."

    • The old Downtown Club, The Rainer, The Bible Book Store and the McKee glass buildings have been purchased with plans to be announced soon.

    • A group of locals have been working with the Mississippi Children’s Museum to bring a children’s museum to downtown.

 


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Biloxi a ‘refresh’ city

 

Posted by: MBJ Staff in Newsmakers January 7, 2016

 

Biloxi is one of seven U.S. cities that has been selected as a demonstration site by The National Main Street Center, Inc., to implement its refreshed approach to comprehensive community revitalization and preservation-based economic development.

 

Biloxi; Philadelphia, Penn.; Milledgeville, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; Gary, Ind.; Lexington, Ky.; and Miami, Fla. were named by the NMSC to be part of an ambitious program designed to reinvigorate the Main Street model. The program is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 

Each community will benefit from recent strategic improvements to the National Main Street Center’s revitalization methodology. Local leaders will receive 12 to 18 months of free organizational capacity building and hands-on technical assistance from national experts on how best to involve the community in revitalization efforts, plan and execute long-term strategic action, and effectively measure the impact of those efforts.

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National Main Street Center Launches Pilot Program to Bring New Resources to Downtown Revitalization in 7 Cities

 

Washington (December 2, 2015) – The National Main Street Center, Inc., has announced that seven U.S. cities have been selected as demonstration sites to implement its refreshed approach to comprehensive community revitalization and preservation-based economic development: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Milledgeville, Georgia; Biloxi, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; and Miami, Florida. The program is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 

“We are grateful to Knight Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their generous support as we roll out a strengthened approach to commercial district revitalization,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Our updated methodology incorporates lessons we’ve learned in our decades of working with communities of all sizes and we are confident these pilot projects will demonstrate that our approach continues to be highly effective in breathing new life in our country’s historic downtowns and commercial districts.”

 

Each community, chosen after a competitive selection process, will benefit from recent strategic improvements to the National Main Street Center’s revitalization methodology that for 35 years has helped transform historic downtowns and urban neighborhoods nationwide. Local leaders will receive 12 to 18 months of free organizational capacity building and hands-on technical assistance from national experts on how best to involve the community in revitalization efforts, plan and executive long-term strategic action, and effectively measure the impact of those efforts.

 

“Providing people with spaces to connect and participate in neighborhood life is essential to creating the type of cities where people want to live and work,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “The initiative will do just that by working with cities to create more vibrant downtown hubs and engaging residents as change agents in this transformation."

 

Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered an incremental, volunteer-driven strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. By tapping two important community resources, citizen participation and its older and historic buildings, the Main Street Approach has helped reinvigorate America’s historic downtowns and commercial districts in cities and towns across the country.

 

More information on pilot program can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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REGIONAL EVENT PLANNERS CONFERENCE TO BE HELD JAN. 20-21 IN MERIDIAN, MISS.
 

The fifth annual Back Stage Pass, a regional conference for festival and event coordinators, will be held Jan. 20-21 at the Mississippi State University Riley Center in Meridian, Miss.

The conference is presented by the Mississippi Main Street Association, Mississippi Arts Commission and Visit Mississippi.

Back Stage Pass focuses on planning festivals and special events that reveal a town’s authentic character. Conference session topics include engaging millennials, experiential marketing and strategic partnerships.

More than 200 professionals are expected to attend the two-day conference designed for non-profit organizations, festival and event coordinators, fundraisers, Main Street directors and members, universities and colleges, tourism organizations, Chamber of Commerce members, and community leaders.

"Back Stage Pass focuses on planning for festivals and special events that reveal your town’s authentic character through the sharing of ideas and like experiences with other event planners throughout the region," said Jeannie Zieren, MMSA Director of Training. "We invite event coordinators from towns of all sizes to join us this year in Meridian for learning, networking and fun as we explore new ways to develop and enhance events that build community character, positively impact the local economy, and contribute to the overall quality of life."

The conference includes an Artist Showcase featuring performers of the Mississippi Arts Commission Artist Roster as well as performers from Alabama and Louisiana. The showcase will be held from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on Jan. 20 at Soulé Steam Feed Works in Meridian.  

Featured artists include Nellie Mack and "Big" Joe Shelton from Mississippi; DieDra Ruff and Russell Gulley from Alabama; and Nathan Williams and Sean Ardoin from Louisiana.
The 2016 exhibitors include: Resource Entertainment Group, Mississippi Press Association, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Dime Entertainment Magazine, Stagelite Sound LLC, Webz Advertising, Legend Seven Productions, Nellie Mack, MS Slide Guitar, Caleb Elliot, Lyle Wynn Studio, DieDra Ruff, "Big" Joe Shelton, Russell Gulley, Gritz the Band, Artistry in Wood, Baba Asante Nalls, and Sean Ardoin.
The 2016 conference sponsors are Visit Meridian, Meridian Main Street, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Mississippi Heritage Trust and Webz Advertising.

Online registration is open through Jan. 15. On-site registration will open at 9 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center on Jan. 20. The conference will adjourn at noon on Jan. 21.
 


 

Ocean Springs' Miller retires with accolades, tears

By KAREN NELSON klnelson@sunherald.com
 

OCEAN SPRINGS—There were tears and hugs and accolades and more tears, hugs, smiles and a toast to the woman whose name is synonymous with Ocean Springs.

Beyond all the awards and board memberships, she is best known for shepherding the Peter Anderson Festival.

Margaret Miller, retiring at the end of the month, was honored Friday afternoon for 28 years with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. She is the retiring executive director of not only the chamber but also Main Street and the Tourism Bureau. She wore three hats, and taking her place will be her second-in-command, Cynthia Sutton.

The reception was elegant at the city's Community Center next to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

City leaders gave her credit for the city's success on many levels, but she seemed especially proud of helping to grow the tax base and leading Ocean Springs from being a bedroom community relying heavily on homeowner property taxes to being a city known for its retail shops and restaurants.

Friday, she wore a purple orchid corsage with a sparkling No. 28. People stood in line to hug her.

With her husband, Greg, her children—she raised five—and her many grandchildren, she told the crowd theirs was "a love affair with a town that continues to be incredible."

There were proclamations. The mayor said Miller instilled in the city a vision of what it could be and it rose to that vision.

The festivals she started, the organizations she helped charter were too many to fit on the plaque.

Stacy Pair with Mississippi Main Street brought a letter from the governor. Pair commented on Miller's influence on beautification in the city, saying, "Walk downtown and you're seeing Margaret Miller, her style and class."

The governor's letter praised her work, calling Ocean Springs a city often seen as a model for others.

Among her distinctions is the city's designation in the Top 5 Happiest Seaside Towns 2015 and the Great American Main Street Award 2013. She was inducted into the Mississippi Tourism Hall of Fame in 2012.

 


Letter from the President - White House Convening on Rural Placemaking

By Patrice Frey, President and CEO, National Main Street Center | From Main Street Story of the Week | December 4, 2015 |

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Dear Main Street America Members,

Happy Holiday Season! All of us at the National Main Street Center are thankful to you, our members, for your passion and commitment to creating more prosperous and engaged downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and your participation in this dynamic network of professionals dedicated to creating healthier communities.

It’s been a very busy autumn at the National Main Street Center, with the launch of our the beta version of the refresh of the Main Street Approach, the introduction of the new Main Street America brand and the launch of the new Main Street America Institute, with classes beginning in January. 

The week before last, we capped off our eventful fall with NMSC’s co-sponsorship of the first White House Convening on Rural Placemaking in partnership with the White House Rural Council and the Project for Public Spaces. This convening brought together federal agencies, national organizations, philanthropic foundations, and Placemaking and Main Street professionals interested in leveraging their resources to help rural communities realize the economic and social benefits of Placemaking.

A special thank you to Joe Borgstrom of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Mary Helmer of Main Street Alabama, Gayla Roten of Missouri Main Street Connection, and Mickey Howley of Water Valley Main Street (Mississippi),  for bringing eloquence and passion in sharing their good work with the attendees. Their experiences, stories, and suggestions elevated the discourse and exposed a new set of potential partners to the strength of Main Street in communities across the country. (Check out Mickey’s thoughtful remarks on how small investments in Main Street can have a significant, catalytic impact on Main Street.)

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Mickey Howley, Water Valley Main Street Manager delivers his remarks; (L to R) Howley, John Poros, Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center Director, Tim Lampkin, Lampkin Consulting Group, and Patrice Frey, NMSC President and CEO, present on local and state perspectives during the convening.

Rural downtowns face significant challenges—shifting demographics, including population and job loss, and increased competition on Main Street from online retail and big box stores—just to name a few.  But in my travel visiting dozens of Main Streets these last two and half years, I’ve seen a different story: residents who are committed to creating a prosperous downtown, including millennials and boomers who are moving back to America’s small towns, fueling mini housing booms downtown, investing in their communities, opening new businesses and creating jobs.  Small town residents—whether millennials, boomers or anything in between, crave that sense of place and sense of connectedness that is offered by small town America.

Our convening at the White House was designed to help illuminate how Placemaking—“employing lighter, quicker and cheaper” strategies to activate and attract people to public spaces—offers communities a shortcut to creating this sense of place, and intensifying this sense of connectedness. And it also highlighted how Placemaking also paves the path to real economic transformation on Main Street.

One of the key things we all understand as Main Streeters is that the transformation of downtowns is incremental—real investment, real businesses, and real jobs aren’t created overnight. It takes sustained efforts and persistence over time. But we Main Streeters also know that incremental change is a tricky thing; it can be all too easy for community members—or even a Main Street Director—to lose heart midway through the process, when achieving end goals seems very far away.

That’s where Placemaking can be so effective; it helps all of us create an early and continuous sense of momentum and progress downtown. In fact the brilliance of Placemaking is it’s focused on the immediate, and it’s focused on the possible.  It empowers communities to move beyond what they might think of as their boundaries, and to chock up short term wins in the form of renewed community engagement, activated public spaces, and just plain fun downtown. 

Several key themes and takeaways came out of our convening, and we are working with the White House and our partners at PPS over the coming weeks to explore some potential action items, including:

  • Work to build local capacity and partnerships by connecting federal resources and technical assistance tools to local community leaders, and identifying intermediary organizations to help provide resources to rural America to more fully engage in Placemaking.
  • Support the federal government’s efforts to prioritize place-based work—support and enhance existing federal efforts to provide peacemaking training to key agency officials on the value of place-based, “lighter, quicker and cheaper work.” Support federal efforts to provide priority consideration for projects that are crafted through intensive community engagement, and reflect the community’s vision and goals.
  • Share our stories.  A key theme of the convening was the importance of hearing directly from local community leaders and members about the ways in which Placemaking has helped galvanize change downtown, and creating more connected and vibrant communities.
  • Establish a collaborative peer-sharing network so we can learn of and from each other’s efforts, challenges, success stories, and best practices.

Moving forward, NMSC will play a lead role in continuing these conversations and working to implement the work outlined during the convening. We look forward to sharing this ongoing work.

If you would like to read more about the day, please see the presentation slides, and the full takeaways and themes document. Additionally, our partners at Project for Public Spaces created a fun Storify piece covering the convening, which you can see here.

Warm Regards,
Patrice Frey signature block

Patrice Frey
President and CEO, National Main Street Center

 


Hopeful signs for restoring state’s historic tax credits

Mississippi Business Journal

By TED CARTER

Preservationists across Mississippi and the professionals who lend their expertise to saving the state’s past say they are encouraged by support key legislators have signaled for renewing historic preservation tax credits in the 2016 session.

That optimism is rooted in caution, however. The  Mississippi Heritage Trust in October put the tax credits tenth on the list of the state’s “most endangered” historic places, a symbolic designation the Trust says it intended as a statement.

The credits are like gold to property owners and developers who can use them to defray 25 percent of the cost, primarily for construction, of a historic preservation. They become especially attractive when combined with the 20 percent federal historic tax credits.

The state’s $60 million credits generated $269 million in building rehab expenditures since their inception in 2007 and a total economic output of $432.5 million, according to an economic impact report prepared by Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development.

While the Mississippi Heritage Trust in October deemed the future of the credits doubtful enough to land them on the 2015 endangered list, 2016 is shaping up as a year of new life for the fund that ran out of money early in 2015. Legislators subsequently declined to replenish it.

Some lawmakers attributed the inaction to the lateness of the pleas for renewed funding. State Sen. Joey Fillingane acknowledged that the late arrival of the funding requests contributed, as did the tax-credit requests failing into a hopper already filled with tax legislation. But the main factor was that preservation lobbyists insisted on a $200 million replenishment “or nothing,” said Fillingane, who, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, declined to support such a huge increase.

This year, House Speaker Philip Gunn is proposing a $100 million historic tax-credit renewal to be allocated over a 15-year period. “There is definitely doing to be a historic tax credit bill this year,” Fillingane said.

He said he wants to avoid a repeat of what he saw as overreach by preservation lobbyists last year. “I hope that proponents recognize this is a cooperative effort” requiring some give-and-take, added Fillingane, a lawyer and Hattiesburg Republican.

“If you come to the table saying ‘It’s this or nothing,’ then chances are you get nothing.”

Todd Sanders, tax incentives coordinator for the state Department of Archives and History, said his department is hoping for a $120 million allocation, but will rely on the lobbying of preservation attorneys such as Steven Hendrix to seek the funding. Hendrix, formerly of Forman Watkins & Krutz and now with Butler Snow, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Speaker Gunn, a  Republican from Clinton, says the credits represent an investment in the state’s economy as well as in preserving its past, he said in a recent interview.

“It’s such a good deal. So many of our towns depend on it for economic development. We get such a good return on our investment,” Gunn said.

How far the $100 million would go is unclear, especially with the tax credits gaining popularity among property owners and developers in many of Mississippi’s small towns.

“It has proven its success, and people have started looking for great opportunities,” said architect Rob Farr, a member of the Heritage Trust and partner at Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons Architects + Engineers.

“Virtually every community in the state could complete a viable project,” he added.

However, just the projects now in the queue would nearly deplete a $100 million allocation, Farr said in an interview Monday. “The new capacity would be absorbed in just a few short months.”

The 15-year allocation period for the tax credits may set off a rush to get them before they run out. But, Farr said, the time span will give new projects an opportunity to vie for the credits.

“Even though the value being discussed is somewhat limited, the time frame is positive,” he said, and noted a typical restoration project runs 36 months to 48 months from inception to completion.

Recipients do not get the credits until the project is completed, but credits are designated as eligibility milestones are met.

Farr said another positive of a 15-year life for the credits is the likelihood that a showing of successful restorations around the state could help persuade legislators to replenish the fund before the end of the 15 years.

Architect Belinda Stewart, principal of Belinda Stewart Architects in Eupora and mayor of the nearby village of Walthall, said she hopes the 15-year lifespan remains in the new allocation. Having the credits on the books gives preservationists a better chance of getting legislators to approve new credits once current ones run out, Stewart said.

For much of small town Mississippi, historic tax credits are about the only economic development incentive available, she said. “They are a wonderful incentive to help encourage folks to restore or reuse historic buildings.”

The threshold of $5,000 for project eligibility makes them especially attractive to property owners who want to fix up buildings on small town main streets throughout Mississippi, and can include everything from roof replacements to new heating and air conditioning components, Stewart said. “It is really about economic development” and maintaining a community’s “character.”

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Ready, set, wait – Developers eager to begin work on historic preservation projects

Mississippi Business Journal

By TED CARTER

Mississippi’s historic preservation tax credits make it possible for Neil and Mike Juneau to look at the campus of Gulfport’s long-closed Department of Veterans Affairs hospital and see a Holiday Inn Resort surrounded by a community of apartments, shops, restaurants and offices.

In Greenville, the tax credits allow Bill Boykin to see a new commercial life for the circa 1940s Sears building, a three-story structure that anchors downtown and stayed vacant for 20 years until Boykin bought it from the city three years ago.

Likewise, Water Valley’s Main Street maestro Mickey Howley thinks of the credits as a way to continue a series of a half dozen downtown restorations.

Together, the state historic preservation tax credits and federal credits can cover up to 45 percent of a preservation project’s cost, primarily for construction, with 25 percent coming from the state credits and the remaining from the federal credits.

“The state HPC and the fed HPC combined are one of the few incentives small downtown economic developers like myself and the other 50 towns on Mississippi Main Street have to work with,” said Howley, who as director of the Water Valley Main Street Association has helped his association bag about every achievement award the state Main Street Association offers.

Neither the state nor federal credits are sufficient to accomplish a restoration on their own, according to Howley.

The Main Street chief is looking to continue what so far have been six restorations completed with about $135,000 in preservation credits and $2.6 million in private investment.

The projects, Howley said, have created space in 120-year-old buildings for four Main Street businesses that employ 28 people. “That’s in retail, medical and light manufacturing,” he said in an email.

These are buildings that were vacant for years and “literally falling in on themselves,” Howley noted.

Water Valley’s Main Street has had 29 buildings restored but the owners used the preservation tax credits on only the six. “We use the credit sparingly and in critical situations where the HPC are literally the difference in getting a project off the ground,” he added.

Restoration of another three buildings has been on hold awaiting the Legislature’s replenishing of a $60 million tax credit fund that dried up early this year, Howley said.

“I think you see by Water Valley’s example that a critical credit in the right places can make a huge difference.”

Meanwhile, Bill Boykin is eager to transform Geenville’s nearly eight-decade-old Sears building into luxury loft apartments and a boutique hotel. He’s also bought three adjoining buildings.

“We are currently talking to four entities about locating in them,” he said in an email.

“One that I can mention is a brewery, “Big River Brewing Company,” the second is an up-and-coming-restaurant franchise that will make a huge impact in Greenville,” he said, and added he has two other prospects he can’t discuss.

“This will be a major economic impact for downtown Greenville,” he said of the more than $5 million restoration project he plans. “We are creating jobs that currently do not exist.”

Problem is, said Boykin, all the work is on hold until Mississippi decides whether to restock its supply of historic preservation tax credits. “For the project to work I need help with the historic tax credits from the State of Mississippi,” Boykin said. “Banks just do not like downtown projects without some tax-credit backing.”

The credits are the difference makers, and “we need them in the Mississippi Delta,” he added.

The waiting also continues in Gulfport, where Neil and Mike Juneau have ambitious plans for converting the buildings and grounds that made up the former Veterans Hospital into the Centennial Plaza mixed-use waterfront project anchored by a Holiday Inn Resort.

Mississippi’s historic preservation tax credits are key to creating the 152-room resort on Beach Boulevard, the project’s initial phase. “We had everything in place and were in the process of closing the construction loan when the state ran out of funding,” Neil Juneau said in a phone interview.

“That made a $2.7 million gap in our equity.”

The hotel is the first leg in restoring all 10 of the circa 1920s buildings within the 48-acre compound the City of Gulfport ceded to the Juneaus’ Centennial Private LLC  under a 99-year lease.

Neil Juneau expects each of the buildings to qualify for state and federal historic preservation tax credits.  The buildings include several examples of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture.

“By the time we do everything on the 48-acre site we’ll spend $170 million.” Juneau said, adding the project includes a pier, and offices, shops and apartments centered on a town square that served as a parade ground during the property’s early use as a military installation.

Once back on track, completion of the entire Centennial Plaza project will take about seven years, though improvement in the coast’s economy could lead to completion in five years, according to Juneau.

The property won placement on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The property sustained massive damage in 2005’s hurricane Katrina, including the destruction of a number of buildings.

Photo: Loft apartments and a boutique hotel are part of Bill Boykins’ plans for downtown Greenville’s nearly eight-decade old Sears building.

 


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Batesville, MS Announces First Time Service to The North Pole Onboard

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride

 

Batesville, MS., 2015 – For the first time ever, Batesville, M.S. will begin service to the North Pole onboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride starting Nov. 20, 2015. The magical story comes to life when the train departs Batesville for a one hour round-trip journey to the North Pole. 

 

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. Once onboard, cheerful, dancing elves serve passengers hot chocolate and cookies while they read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa and his helpers greet passengers at the North Pole and then board the train, where each child is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell. Chefs aboard each car lead passengers in singing Christmas carols on the ride back to Batesville.  

 

In response to overwhelming demand for tickets to experience the inaugural season of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride in Batesville, M.S., Diamond and First Class tickets have been added and are now on sale.  Standard Class tickets also remain and are selling at a record-breaking pace for any first-year introduction of rail service to the North Pole.  

 

“Families throughout Mississippi and Tennessee are eagerly gearing up for the holidays and we are thrilled at the reception THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is receiving from the entire region,” shares Angela Lane, vice president of sales and marketing for the Premier Rail Collection. “Over half of our tickets for the inaugural season are reserved as we prepare for the Nov. 20 debut.”

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS ™ Train Ride in Batesville, M.S. is celebrating the season of giving by partnering with star forward for the Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies to present Memphis-area children and their families with 100 tickets to ride the December 5 departure.

 

“As a part of the community here in the Memphis area, we fully support the mission of the Memphis Grizzlies in giving back to children over the holiday season,” stated Angela Lane, vice president of sales & marketing for Premier Rail Collection. “We are excited to work with Zach to present children and their families with a memorable experience that will forever been cherished for years to come.”

 

Randolph will present children at Memphis-area Boys & Girls Clubs with 100 tickets for the 1:00 p.m. departure to experience with their loved ones. One lucky child selected by Randolph will also be given the opportunity to take on the responsibilities of Junior Conductor – shouting “ALL ABOARD” and commencing the magical train ride.

 

“We are proud to have Zach partner with the area’s newest iconic holiday excursion, The Polar Express Train Ride,” said Diane Terrell, vice president community engagement and executive director of the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation. “We appreciate the Batesville Polar Express Train Ride supporting our team, players and the youth in the Memphis region.”

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride operates on select dates through Dec. 27, 2015, with departure times at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Exact dates, fares and excursion times are available by visiting www.GrenadaPolarExpressRide.com or calling 877-334-4783. Ticket prices range from $20 to $85 depending on class of service and date of travel. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride.

 

Please see below for a link to high res. images of the POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fvt2oxdjxd88fhy/AAC3mx2bKwe-licyv42m1Xx5a?dl=0

 

Recent coverage of the Batesville POLAR EXPRESS:
http://www.commercialappeal.com/business/non-profits/Polar-Express-teams-with-Grizzlies-on-ticket-donation-359586811.html

http://www.commercialappeal.com/business/polar-express-christmas-train-part-of-expanded-rail-plan-ep-1253408193-327931661.html


http://www.commercialappeal.com/business/tourism/Polar-Express-drawing-strong-response-332884481.html


http://www.travelpulse.com/news/car-rental-and-rail/the-polar-express-comes-to-mississippi-this-holiday-season.html

 

https://www.grenadapolarexpressride.com/

 

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/car-rental-and-rail/the-polar-express-comes-to-mississippi-this-holiday-season.html

 

https://www.facebook.com/PolarExpressMississippi

 

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Based on THE POLAR EXPRESS book and characters TM & © 1985 by Chris Van Allsburg. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

(s15)

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride

Official THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides are licensed by Rail Events, Inc. on behalf of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Inc. Since 2005, Rail Events, Inc. has held the exclusive license to operate THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS Film

The Academy Award winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis reunite for THE POLAR EXPRESS, an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg.  When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Sony Pictures Imageworks and visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, Oscar winners for their innovative work, help bring the story vividly to the screen in full CG animation through Imageworks’ next-generation motion capture process that allows live-action performances to drive the emotions and movements of the digital characters. Warner Home Video will once again offer THE POLAR EXPRESS in standard-definition, Blu-ray and 3D DVD versions this holiday season.

 

THE POLAR EXPRESS Book

THE POLAR EXPRESS film is based on Chris Van Allburg’s classic Christmas picture book, which tells the story of a boy who takes a magical Christmas Eve train ride to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa. First published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1985, The Polar Express became an instant family favorite and has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. In 1986 it won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for Illustration.  

 

About Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.

 

About Rail Events Inc.

Rail Events Inc. is the industry leader in rail-related special events management. In 2014, we hosted over 850,000 guests at 50 licensed events with 45 partner railroads in the US, Canada, and the UK. Rail Events Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Heritage Railways, which is the premier operator of heritage railroads in the United States.

 

Media Contacts:

Mike Hicks / Skelly Stevens / Charlotte Park                                           

LOU HAMMOND & ASSOCIATES                                                        

561-655-3836 / 843-408-4398 / 843-371-1362                  

MichaelH@louhammond.com / SkellyS@louhammond.com / CharlotteP@louhammond.com

www.louhammond.com               


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Gulfport native tapped for MS Regional President of Hancock Bank  

By Chris Thies
WLOX
 

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport native Keith A. Williams has been named Mississippi Regional President of Hancock Bank. The bank called Williams “one of South Mississippi’s most experienced bankers and community leaders.”

Williams started his career at Hancock Bank nearly 29 years ago. In that time, he has served the company in many ways, including several officer and senior-level management positions.

“Keith Williams, like Hancock Bank, is South Mississippi born-and-bred. He is an ideal fit to lead all of the business segments that make up our Mississippi based banking organization. He understands the area, the state, and our citizens and has the know-how to guide our bankers in helping local people achieve their financial goals and dreams,” said Chief Banking Officer Edward G. Francis.

Williams is an alumnus of Gulfport High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Delta State University. He was inducted into the DSU Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU and the Mississippi School of Banking.

“Keith is Hancock’s Mississippi voice and a strong, clear voice for opportunity across the market,” said Francis. “He has been integral in building the nationally recognized strength and stability that sets apart Hancock Bank as a Gulf South banking leader.”

Williams also has a long record of service to his community. He has served on the Gulfport Planning Commission for 11 years, is on the board of directors for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and is active in the Mississippi Main Street Association.


State Main Street president says local program one of best in state

By

New Albany Gazette

New Albany’s Main Street program is one of the biggest successes in the state, according to the president of the Mississippi Main Street Association.

Suzanne Smith made the comment at the local organization’s annual meeting and awards luncheon this past Thursday.

The guest speaker, introduced by long-time Main Street supporter and former state Main Street official Billy Wiseman, in addition to serving as current president of the Mississippi Main Street Association, is Senior Vice-President and Western Region Retail Administrator for Renasant Bank and has been active in the Main Street program for several years. She not only served on the board but this is her second term as state president.

Smith said she got her start in Main Street in Tupelo and once you get involved “you are always a part of it.” She complied Duke on the job she is doing as New Albany’s manager.

“We have two manager-directors on our board and Vickie has just completed a two-year term,” she said. Since some of the board don’t have manager experience, Smith said they help provide needed information to the board.

She noted that New Albany’s Main Street program has a 20-year history of success. “It is a fabulous town and a beautiful downtown,” she said, noting there is almost no vacancy and more than $8 million has been invested in revitalization and improvement.

Smith next listed some of the reasons she believes it is important to be a part of the state Main Street organization.

“Number one, we’re the link between several organizations (such as the Mississippi Development Authority),” she said. Next was Main Street’s partnership with the MDA and director Glenn McCullough. “They’re out largest investor. He is restructuring MDA and we are restructuring Main Street to a degree. Without him, we would not be as successful as we are today.”

Smith said she had told McCullough he did not just have to give money to Main Street, she said. “I want to earn your investment,” she told him.

Another benefit of the state Main Street is that they can provide design and other technical help. Smith said they prefer to use local designers but can bring in outside resources when they need to. “We have great resources in the state and want to keep Mississippi dollars in the state,” she said.

Another service she mentioned their interaction with the legislature. “We educate the legislature and shepherd them,” she said.

Perhaps most effective at the local level are the workshops and networking that provide answers to common problems, she said.

“I do want to encourage you, if you have any questions bring them to Vickie or call me,” she said. “Every one of you makes a difference in the Main Street program.”

Although Smith said the state organization is going to be restructured, “We’re not going to get away from our four-point program.”

Main Street has four standing committees and areas of emphasis: design, economic restructuring, promotion and youth.

“We want to become self-sufficient but will always need MDA as an investor,” she said.

“If you work for the program the program will work for you,” she said.

And a Main Street supporter does not have to agree with everything that is being done. One can even be “an aggravated active volunteer,” she said.

“You’re the reason New Albany is as successful as it is,” she said. “You are one of the shining stars and you have been shining for 20 years.”

Prior to Smith’s comments, New Albany Main Street Manager Vickie Duke presented this year’s awards.

The Service Award, given for service to and support of downtown efforts went to the Pilot Club of New Albany with Duke noting their especially valuable work on the farmer’s market and second Saturday programs.

The Revitalization Award went to Chuck and Rhonda Cooper for their renovation of the former Winders Hardware building to serve as the new Van-Atkins Jewelers.

Duke presented the President’s Award to supervisor Benny Rakestraw “for his leadership, support and commitment, showing creative approaches to problems since 1996.”

In a brief business session, president Bob Spencer said one board position needed to be filled. Attorney Thad Mueller’s term was expiring but he recommended Mueller for another three-year term and said Mueller, who serves as treasurer, will willing to serve again. The nomination was unanimously approved.

Spencer also noted that board member Benny Rakestraw will be going off the board at the end of the year when he retires as Fifth District Supervisor. “He’s been on the board since, I think, the second meeting. He not only sits in the chair, he goes out and works. We really appreciate what he has done,” he said.

Perhaps Main Street Vice-President Colt Doom summed up what Main Street has done as an organization in his welcome to those attending: “Doesn’t downtown look great!” he said. “We wouldn’t be as successful without your support.”

The New Albany Main Street board includes Bob Spencer, president; Colt Doom, vice-president; Nancy Kidd, secretary; Thad Mueller, treasurer; Billy Wiseman, director emeritus; and members Glenda Conlee, Ellen Staten, Benny Rakestraw and Scott Dunnam.

For more information, go to www.newalbanymainstreet.com.

 


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Street Talk
North Mississippi Herald
By Mickey Howley, Water Valley Main Street Association


For a fistful of dollars or a sponsored ticket you can go almost anywhere quickly. Southwest Airlines has this fleet of short wide Boeings that they herd folks off and on. There’s no assigned seating and just like when I was a kid running for the back seats on the bus, I go for the rear. Last row window seat is my favorite. Can’t lean back and legroom suffers, but the view is the best. Looking forward, the wing divides the view by perfectly blocking the far horizon. Makes a split screen view, below the wing the earth unfolds, a constant sky above the wing.

So two Mondays ago, I flew before dawn from Memphis to Chicago and then on to Washington DC. The final approach at Midway was from out over Lake Michigan with the arc downtown Chicago sliding by. Another over water approach at DC, heading upriver over the Potomac to touchdown at Reagan National. Those cities sprawl on land but are truly defined by the hard edge of water.

I’ve never seen Water Valley from the air except from Google maps or Jack Gurner’s drone photos, but we all know the Valley is defined by water as well. And while Chicago is defined by big shoulders and Washington by its big power, the Valley is the definition of small. But we’re not alone in small. There’s a lot of small out there. Towns and places under 5,000 people. Bantam towns if you will. Just in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia alone there are a thousand towns that small. To be sure many are Water Valley size but many are very small places.  Think Velma. But last week, we…and I mean the collective we of the Water Valley and our Main Street Association..were at the White House representing small towns and speaking small power to powerful.

Call it placemaking or community building or whatever, but it is about making your town a good place for all who live there. And that’s the power of small, because small can be nimble. That any number of things can be done quicker, cheaper, and faster (not forgetting quality though!) that can make a place better. There isn’t the inertia that big city size has. That if you want to look for innovative change, to folks willing to try things, small is where it is at. And it is my gut feeling that there are more people in small places, relative to overall size, who are willing to be an active part.

This daylong meeting was called “The White House Convening on Rural Placemaking”. The people there were not only White House policy types but folks from government agencies like the Budget Office, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Transportation, National Endowment for the Arts, Environmental Protection Agency, US Economic Development Administration, US Housing and Urban Development, Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. And good folks from non-profits like National Main Street, Project for Public Spaces, the Orton Foundation, Recast City, Strong Towns, Smart Growth America, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the Rural Policy Research Institute.

It felt like an honor. How Water Valley got there, I guess was a little luck, you know right place right time, and a lot of hard work. By everybody in the Valley. I had five minutes to speak. To be sure there were four other Main Street folks speaking, but they run the National program or state programs. Water Valley was the only Main Street town speaking. In those five minutes I tried to give folks a feel of how small efforts can lead to greater impact, how bringing back what is already there, re-using it differently, is far better then tearing down. That small is more than fixable, it can be fun. How economic vitality is central. How downtown, even in small places, is the key to the whole community doing well, and how we all need to hear each other and work together.

I quoted three people in those five minutes. Paraphrasing poet W.B. Yeats about if the center cannot hold, things fall apart. Directly quoting former governor Haley Barbour about how “Mississippi needs to get up off its assets.”  And saying Yalo Studio owner Coulter Fussell’s observation about creative opportunities in places like Water Valley, “That if you are willing to work hard, to sweat, and have the patience of Job, the forgotten small town can be the new frontier”.


The 2016 Great American Main Street Award Semifinalists

By National Main Street Center | From Main Street Story of the Week | September 11, 2015 |

MS_Banner_SOTW&MSHomepage-GAMSA-2

This past week, we had the pleasure of revealing the ten 2016 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) semifinalists on Facebook and Twitter. It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year because we get to see the reactions of Main Street organizations, local residents, business owners, and city staff, and how they rally behind each semifinalist as they’re announced. Post after post of congratulations, thanks, words of support—coupled with more than a few superlatives and exclamation points—poured in each day.

The praise is much-deserved—all together, this year’s semifinalists have generated over three billion dollars in public and private reinvestment, while creating 10,690 new jobs, opening 1,262 new businesses, rehabbing 1,237 buildings and clocking 309,918 volunteer hours.

“GAMSA represents the pinnacle of community achievement in the pursuit of downtown and commercial district places in which people want to call home, work, launch and run a business, and enjoy their leisure time," said Matt Wagner, NMSC Vice President of Revitalization Programs. “This year’s winners stand as national models of how communities can thrive through innovative leadership, smart execution of revitalization strategies, and dedication to preservation-based economic development.”

We look forward to announcing this year’s winners in May 2016 at the National Main Streets Conference in Milwaukee. So without further delay, here are the 2016 GAMSA semifinalists, in alphabetical order: 

Audubon Park Garden District, Orlando, Florida

Year Founded: 2009 | Population: 1,992 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 4

audubon_GAMSA 2016
East End Market’s Skyebird Experimental Kitchen is just one of the new businesses built here since the
creation of the Main Street program. ©Steven Miller Photography

Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District is almost single handedly responsible for the vibrancy and economic vitality of the district.  Prior to the establishment of the Main Street organization, the area was dominated by tired storefronts.  In just six years this district has attracted close to $4 million in private investment and boasts an astounding public to private investment ratio of $1:$326.  Today the district has developed into a food hub recognized by numerous publications, including The New York Times, Southern Living, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune

Bastrop, Texas

Year Founded: 2007 | Population: 7,218 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 62

bastrop_GAMSA 2016
A view of Bastrop’s historic Main Street. © Sleeping Owl Photography 

With over 130 sites and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a commercial historic district, Bastrop has placed a strong emphasis on preservation.  Not long ago, however, many commercial buildings were largely ignored by absentee owners and had fallen into a state of disrepair.  Since the Bastrop Main Street Program started, those tattered remnants of a prosperous past have turned once more into a central business district bustling with activity.  Through a façade grant program, the district was able to assist in the rehabilitation of 39 buildings in the district.

Covington, Kentucky

Year Founded: 2003 | Population: 40,640 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 15

covington_GAMSA 2016
A look down Covington’s snow-covered Madison Avenue in winter 2015. © Thomas DiBello

Since their inception in 2003, Renaissance Covington has completed a number of large-scale initiatives, including a streetscape project on a key corridor, the implementation of a strong façade rehab program, and restoration of a key historic downtown building nearly destroyed by a fire.  While maintaining a strong commitment to the Main Street Approach, the organization has continued to evolve into more of a grassroots strategic initiative looking for creative solutions.  In 2014, Renaissance Covington met nearly all yearly goals outlined in their five-year strategic plan.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Year Founded: 2000 | Population: 6,049 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 22

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A couple takes a romantic afternoon stroll in downtown Dahlonega. © Chloe Giancola
Downtown Dahlonega is the regional destination for parades and festivities. © Brad Killer

With the University of North Georgia located right in their own backyard, Dahlonega Main Street recognized what an asset they had and has worked closely with the University to offer classes for business owners on marketing, business planning and financing among other topics. They also worked together with the University on a mixed-use building which included dorms, parking, and private business space.  In just 10 years, Dahlonega Main Street has created almost 300 new jobs, rehabbed 180 buildings and collected over 52,000 volunteer hours.

Grapevine, Texas

Year Founded: 1991 | Population: 46,334 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 14

grapevine_GAMSA 2016
Grapevine Main Street becomes the Christmas Capital of Texas® each November and December, bringing over 1 million visitors to Grapevine for holiday fun.  In this photo, people are beginning to gather on Main Street for the Parade of Lights, the largest night-time Christmas parade in North Texas! © Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Located just 23 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Grapevine Heritage Foundation has worked tirelessly to make the city a great place not only for its residents, but for the 15+ million people that visit the community each year.  Taking a unique application of the Main Street Approach, they have utilized existing assets for their committees, including Grapevine Heritage Foundation (Organization), Historic Preservation Commission (Design), Historic Downtown Grapevine Association (Promotion & Economic  Revitalization) and the Grapevine Township Revitalization Project (Economic  Revitalization).  Perhaps the most notable outcome of the $125+ million in public and private investment is that there are people on the street every day of week, both day and night.

Howell, Michigan

Year Founded: 2005 | Population: 9,505 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 8

howell_GAMSA 2016
An aerial view downtown Howell. © Richard Lim Photography

When Howell Main Street first started, they quickly recognized a problem in the district—the majority of downtown was occupied by personal or professional service-based businesses that did not attract people.  Today, you will find shops unique to Howell and eateries that offer quality dining experiences.  As a result, the district has seen an increase in demand for downtown housing, so Howell Main Street is working closely with the City, property owners and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to rehabilitate upper story units into additional living spaces.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Year Founded: 1993 | Population: 17,950 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 30

los-alamos_GAMSA 2016
Los Alamos Town Site, as seen from a distance. © Leslie E. Bucklin

Once home to the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos MainStreet continues to build on the city’s reputation as a hub for innovation and invention. This couldn’t be more evident than in their signature promotion event, ScienceFest.  In 2015, ScienceFest saw a 60% increase in sponsorship and grants and raised attendance by 200%.  Los Alamos MainStreet recently launched a façade improvement revolving loan which allows businesses to receive up to $25,000 at 0% interest.  In the first four months alone, the program has funded three businesses at a total of $48,000. 

Shaw District, Washington, DC

Year Founded: 2003 | Population: 9,842 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 54

shaw_GAMSA 2016
City Market at O development, located in the heart of Shaw, incorporates a Public Market building built in 1881. © Shaw Main Streets

In just over one decade, Shaw Main Streets, Inc., has worked quickly to turn around four decades of disinvestment in the district.  Since 2003, 173 new businesses have opened in the district and millions of square feet of new retail, commercial and residential development have replaced empty lots.  Over $2.65 billion has been invested by the public and private sector, and the district is widely recognized as the DC’s fastest growing dining and entertainment destination, and most exciting residential neighborhood.

Tupelo, Mississippi

Year Founded: 1991 | Population: 34,546 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 47

tupelo_GAMSA 2016
A view of Main Street Tupelo. Tupelo is famous for being the birthplace of Elvis Presley. © Lance Ingram, Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau

Though Tupelo Main Street has received 58 awards for its work, its real honor is the impact it has had on people’s lives.  This couldn’t be more evident than the fact that today, upper-story housing in the district is at 100% occupancy and the organization has surpassed 45,000 volunteer hours.  Tupelo Main Street was selected in 2010 for a Placemaking Pilot program in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, the National Main Street Center and Mississippi Main Street.  The culmination of this project, slated for completion in May 2016, will result in an $11 million corridor improvement connecting downtown to Elvis’s birthplace.    

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Year Founded: 1984 | Population: 23,856 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 55

vicksburg_GAMSA 2016
The Valley Building, located on the corner, boats views of the Mississippi River from its top floors. Built in 1881 as the Valley Dry Goods Company headquarters, it is now a luxury corporate apartment building. © Ben Muldrow

As one of the original six Mississippi Main Street towns, Vicksburg Main Street has created over 3,100 jobs while generating over $150 million in public and private investment.  Though in operation for 28 years, Vicksburg still had a vacancy rate of 65% in 2012. Vicksburg realized that that no one was coming to “save them,” so they decided to find local investors to invest in the district. They developed an Economic Development Resource Guide, and eventually a list of “most wanted” buildings was created.  Today, nearly every building on the “most wanted’ list has been purchased, rehabbed or is in the processing of being rehabbed, and the vacancy rate sits at just 5%! 

We would once again like to thank everyone that applied this year. The winners will be announced at the Opening Plenary of the 2016 National Main Streets Conference in Milwaukee!

 


What is a Loblolly? The power of a historical name and the celebration to come.

Posted by .

 

what-is-a-loblolly

If you’ve ever stepped foot in or near Laurel, MS when the pollen is falling in sheets and buckets, then you’ve experienced an integral part of being a true southerner – the love (and hate) of the southern pine tree.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in or near Laurel, MS when the pollen is falling in sheets and buckets, then you’ve experienced an integral part of being a true southerner – the love (and hate) of the southern pine tree.

The tall, resilient pine has long been the backdrop of the storied history of Laurel, MS.

As the Eastmans, Gardiners and Rogers came in from Iowa to settle right here in Jones County it was the tall, swaying, yellow pines surrounded by beautiful, flowering Laurel bushes that inspired them to stay.

Industry – and the livelihoods it provided – was beckoning to their entrepreneurial souls, and soon The Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Co. was founded and Laurel became the yellow pine capital of the world.

The history of Laurel, MS Central Ave in Historical Laurel, MS The 8 Wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon

Like many great innovators before him – John Lindsey watched the progress of the ever-growing lumber town, recognized a need and created a way to solve it. Soon, The 8-wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon was patented and folks from all over the world came to hear of a little town in South, MS.

Next, Laurel Machine & Foundry was created to supply parts for the wagon and William H. Mason invented a process to create a hardboard from the waste provided by the mills, supplying the little piney woods town with more jobs and more opportunities for growth.

The History of Masonite Corporation

Each inspiration, each problem solved was another brick laid in the bustling streets of a town on the rise. Laurel owes it’s foundation and it’s very spirit to the yellow Loblolly pine – and those who saw ever-present opportunity even as the pollen covered their boots.

The 2015 Loblolly Festival

Honoring Our Storied Past

Saturday October 3rd, 2015 · 9am ’til 5pm

Loblolly LumberjackThe Loblolly Festival is held annually on the first Saturday in October and celebrates Laurel’s heritage as a sawmill town.

Vendors from several states, artists, crafters and craftsmen set up shop in the streets of downtown Laurel for this one day event.

Tucked in close together atop the brick streets of Downtown Laurel, they’ll offer their latest creations to the surging crowds.

In one booth – prized artwork, in the next – a display of simple wooden toys; each manned by an artist or craftsman watching intently for those who appreciate their hard work and want to bring it into their lives.

From mid-morning to late-afternoon love and loss, memories and tall tales will fill the empty spaces between the towering downtown buildings as musicians and songwriters display their hearts and talents for the entranced festival-goers.

A few blocks away someone bites into the first authentic festival food of the season, balancing a long-anticipated funnel cake atop their recent purchases.

The flannel-adorned Laurel Lumberjack stands nearly a foot taller than all around him and quickly draws a crowd requesting photos and inquiring about the whereabouts of his lovely wife.

A chainsaw growls to life as a talented artist shapes logs and limbs into beautiful artwork surrounded by onlookers enjoying this favorite festival attraction, funded by a grant from the MS Arts Commission.

Teens flock to this year’s art contest “Loblolly Pine Tree – A Closer Look”, hoping to find the winning ribbon pinned to their own creation. Their little siblings squeal in delight as they watch the “Pooches on Parade” dog show and pick out their favorite furry friend.

Late into the evening the children’s train ride passes the Pinehurst Park fountain one last time, children slip on shoes outside the slowly deflating jumps and one last brave soul is flung excitedly from the mechanical bull.

Soon – the 2015 Loblolly Festival will be a recent memory, but for now, there is still time to experience the fun and nostalgia as we celebrate our storied past and enjoy our artful, musical, delicious present.

Join us for the 2015 Loblolly Festival in downtown Laurel, Saturday, October 3rd from 9am till 5pm!

Written by Bethany Byrd

Bethany Byrd is the president of LMS Partner Own Your Hill, LLC, an experienced online marketing consultant, speaker and author. She helps small town nonprofits and small businesses grow and thrive through the power of online marketing and storytelling. Curious about the results of articles like this one? Click here to see the Laurel Main Street case study now.

 


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Celebrating 10 Years of Katrina Recovery


Gov. Phil Bryant announced the formation of the Katrina Remembrance Commission (KRC) in March 2015 to help mark the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The commission is chaired by Haley and Marsha Barbour and is co-chaired by the mayors and presidents of the boards of supervisors in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.


The commission serves as an umbrella organization to help Mississippi Gulf Coast communities plan and promote events commemorating the anniversary of the storm. From Aug. 21-Sept. 12, events will be held along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to celebrate 10 years of recovery. 
 
Beginning in 2006, a Mississippi Main Street Resource Team was hired to created master plans in seven coastal communities (Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Picayune, and Waveland) devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The resulting development has been more than $300 million in these downtown districts, with an additional $1 billion in reinvestment of several downtown attractions, such as hotels, museums and casinos.

Mississippi Main Street is honored to have been a part of the recovery efforts.
 

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Street Talk

By Mickey Howley, Water Valley Main Street Association
North Mississippi Herald


My brother Tom is a regular visitor to the Valley. And he comes not especially to see me; I think he genuinely likes it up here in the north. We’re having lunch at the BTC the week before last and someone comes up to the table and reminds us that the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up. Tom just looks at them and says matter of fact, “We’re not talking about that”. And we didn’t and we don’t. Usually. But even when that event does come up, we just say “the storm”.

You see, it’s not that we’re forgetting, but it is something we’d not like to repeat.

I rode out the storm in the relative luxury of my front porch here in the Valley. I’d already been living in the hill country for six years. But Tom and my other brother Charlie “worked” it. They’re on the New Orleans Fire Department. Tom was in New Orleans East, Charlie in Mid-City and Lakeview. Flooded areas with 6 to 11 feet of water. And with boats and jet skis, they and their fellow first responders systematically combed their districts for people and brought them to safety. They worked together and saved people. It’s just what firefighters do.

And as you can well imagine, they saw lots of pain, sorrow, and utter destruction. That doesn’t get talked about, but occasionally the humor does. Tom’s crew was swimming through a dark and flooded grocery store, looking for supplies, when one guys yells, “Cleanup needed on aisle six”. Charlie, in the deeper flooded sections of Lakeview (his neighborhood), would use the roofs of flooded houses as loading ramps by powering the rescue flatboat up them. His greeting to those on the roof was, “All aboard that’s coming aboard!” Tom saw a stingray calmly swimming on Interstate 10, Charlie noted Toyotas float, and Buicks don’t.

Enough of the reminiscing, the aftermath of the storm did see many folks moving to Water Valley, not just from New Orleans, but from other places in south Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And for many of those, the storm and possible future storms was a solid reason for leaving, but not the only reason for moving here. Many already had connections in the area. Four people I’d like to highlight who moved here after the storm are Betsy Persons, Bill Warren, Pati D’Amico, and Katrina Geenen. Because they were instrumental in the early Water Valley art scene. Betsy realized there was a wealth of talent in the area and organized art shows at her office. Bill and Pati got others enthused about art as a means to adding life to the town. Katrina brought a rambunctious energy and keen eye for detail to the mix. All bought houses and property in town. Made the Valley their home and joined with like-minded others here in moving the place forward with the attitude that things work best when we all work together.

 

You can see that work together energy next month September 19 in the 7th Annual Downtown Studio Art Crawl. It’ll be a much better anniversary of sorts to talk about.
 


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Stacy Pair named coordinator of state Main Street Association
By DUNCAN DENT
The Neshoba Democrat

A former Philadelphia Main Street director has been named coordinator for the Mississippi Main Street Association.

The state organization announced "some exciting restructuring" in its organizational team that included naming Stacy Pair, as director of administration and state coordinator.

Pair was previously the Southern District director, working with about 21 certified Main Street associations from Jackson to the Coast.

In her new job, Pair will oversee administration of the organization as well as act as a liaison to our board of directors, statewide partners and the National Main Street Center. She will also work with the rest of the staff to offer services in the field.

Pair said that the state has one of the strongest Main Street associations in the country.

"I would attribute that to our directors that came before me and our local Main Street managers," Pair said.

She got her start as a local Main Street manager when she answered an ad in the paper for the job in Philadelphia about 15 years ago.

"It doesn't seem like its been that long," Pair said.

Though she was not sure what the job would entail, she knew it would involve making Philadelphia a better place to live.

Both of Pair's parents are from Philadelphia. Though her mother, Kathy Trapp Pair, is deceased, her father, James Pair, still lives in Philadelphia with his wife Ann.

Her father said that he was happy when he heard the news but was not surprised they chose her based on her years of hard work.

"Of course I'm delighted," James Pair said. "I knew she would achieve her goal becauseI knew she was working hard enough to achieve it. I am very proud of her."

Pair is also a nationally certified Main Street Professional and has done work for Main Street associations in other states.

"I hope to take my knowledge and experience and utilize it in Mississippi," she said.

Pair hopes to focus on in-the-field services by working closely with focus groups of experienced and new Main Street directors to identify needs and working closely with investors and partners.

"We have a great team now and I am really looking forward to working with them to better serve our state," Pair said.

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MS Main Street Announcement
Aug. 14, 2015

The Board of Directors of the Mississippi Main Street Association is pleased to announce some exciting restructuring in our organizational team.  In order to evolve and better respond to the needs of our member communities and partners, we would like to announce the following positions:

Director of Administration and State Coordinator - Stacy Pair
Stacy will oversee administration of the organization as well as act as a liaison to our board of directors, statewide partners and the National Main Street Center. She will also work with the rest of the staff to offer services in the field.

Director of Field Services - Jan Miller
Jan will work closely with our partners and senior managers to oversee services offered in our member and network communities.  She will oversee projects, technical services and work with the rest of the staff to offer services in the field.

Director of Training and Information - Jeannie Waller Zieren
Jeannie will work with our partners and the National Main Street Center to create and oversee a curriculum of trainings to be offered regionally and in our member and network communities, including conferences and individual community, board and Four Point trainings.  Jeannie will also continue to oversee the disbursement of information for the organization and will work with the rest of the staff to offer services in the field.

Director of Office Services - Denise Halbach
Denise will oversee administrative services of the organization as well as those offered to our communities.  She will act as support to our other directors.  Denise will also help with planning, coordination and execution of our training curriculum and conferences.

We are excited about the new direction the organization is taking and look forward to great things happening in our communities.  Stay tuned for additional updates in the near future!

MMSA Team & Board of Directors


Stacy Pair, 228-365-9090
Jan Miller, 662-364-0435
Jeannie Zieren, 601-941-5409
Denise Halbach, 601-944-0113


Valley Vinyl boasts state’s largest record collection

 

Despite closing his record store, The Alternative, in Natchez more than four decades ago, Port Gipson native Dell Clark never stopped collecting vinyl.

As he traveled the country in a new career, scouring for deals on antiques, invariably vinyl would be a part of the equation. His collection eventually became so big that he persuaded the city of Tunica to build a 30-foot-by-60-foot steel building.

“I put records in there by the beaucoup,” Clark recalled.

Clark said he hosted an invitation-only event to allow people to scavenge his record collection twice a year beginning around 2010. By chance in June 2014, Yalobusha Brewing Co. owner Andy O’Bryan received an invitation to one of Clark’s famous fire sales in Tunica.

“Immediately my gears started turning,” O’Bryan said.

O’Bryan offered to host his next sale at his newly open brewery housed in a historic building on Main Street in Water Valley.

I came over the next week and was awestruck with this incredible building,” Clark said of the facility, which became the fourth Ford dealership in the country in the early part of the 20th Century.

“You couldn’t have a better facility and ambiance. The natural tie-in between the brewery people and record people is a great fit.”

Clark said he was hoping 100 people would show up on the day of the sale. Instead, 450 people showed up, paying $15 just to enter and take a look at his expansive collection, which he says is the biggest in the state. Clark and O’Bryan partnered shortly thereafter, and Valley Vinyl was born.

“I haven’t been in the Little Big Store in Raymond in quite some time, but that’s the only store in Mississippi that can even begin to compete with me, and that doesn’t include what I don’t have in the shop,” Clark said.

Located in 500 square feet of the brewery that O’Bryan said he couldn’t find a use for anyway, sits Clark’s new record store.

“I’m really, really enjoying it,” Clark said of the re-emergence of the vinyl market. “It’s all contingent on having a good system. Vinyl is very high maintenance, and you have to treat it with respect.

“(Vinyl) has warmth, it has vibrato, it has things you’re not going to get from a digital signal because you are chopping off all of the highs and all of the lows, compressing the signal and bringing it back out.”

Since opening in the brewery six months ago, Clark isn’t so concerned about selling records as he is about creating a new culture of music lovers. O’Bryan does not charge Clark for rent or utilities, instead taking a share of record sales.

Walk into his store and you are met by a man who has a love and encyclopedic knowledge of music.

“Have you heard of the band The Joy of Cooking?” he asks me. “They’re from San Francisco at the same time as the (Grateful) Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but they took a totally different style of music,” as he puts on their album “Castles” on his immaculate turntable and sound system.

“There is so much great music that is never going to get on the radio in modern times, so when these younger people come in, I love to introduce them to people like that,” Clark said.

His collection is exclusively vintage. He doesn’t waste his time with new vinyl, which he says isn’t 100 percent plastic and has a higher warpage rate. The store has a lot of jazz, blues soul and classic rock and roll. He pulls three or four records out at random, and they’re all in pristine condition.

In addition to vinyl, Clark sells vintage sound systems and turntables that have been refurbished by his technician.

“Even though it’s 40 years old, once my tech goes through it and takes all the gummy stuff out, lubes it, he puts a belt on it and it’s good to go for another 30 to 40 years,” Clark said.

For now, Valley Vinyl is only open Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-6 p.m. when the brewery’s taproom is open to the public. If you’re a vinyl aficionado or looking for the perfect place to get started, it’s worth a trip to lovely downtown Water Valley. Have lunch at the BTC Grocery or Crawdad Hole, and start searching for vinyl while sipping on some brew.

Contact Jacob Threadgill at (601) 961-7192 or jthreadgil@gannett.com. Follow @JacoboLaSombra on Twitter.

 


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Water Valley part of Mississippi's 2017 Bicentennial Creative Economy Film Project

It wasn’t my idea. Nope, I like things to flow on Main Street, especially around lunchtime on a Saturday. Documentary filmmaker Chandler Griffin had this idea about promoting the statewide series of creative economy films, as part of the Mississippi Bicentennial Project. Yes, that’s looking way ahead; Mississippi’s bicentennial year is 2017. There’s a series of 25 films in the works, some already done, the first one was the “85% Broken” film shot here in Water Valley. The idea was to gather 30 some odd folks from the 9 films already shot and put them in a big group promotional photo.  In the middle of Main Street on Saturday when it is packed and busy. And put the photographer in a bucket truck to take the shot.

So that’s what we did last Saturday. In the middle of the road. Clogging Main Street. With the help of Lt. Tony Hernandez and Officer Weaver Cain of the Water Valley Police Department routing traffic and keeping motorist calm and collected. And thanks to Brandon Richardson of the Water Valley Electric Department. With his dexterous bucket truck booming for the shot, it all went smooth and the Main Street was not blocked for any great length of time.

Why here for this promo?  Because Water Valley is the epicenter of creative economy in this state! Okay, that might be an overstatement, but we’re certainly cutting edge and one of the first. Chandler thought as the Valley action was the subject for the first film and there are 2 more based here films to be released and all have connection to our Main Street, it would be great location. And it doesn’t hurt that we have a good-looking Main Street and Mississippi Main Streets in general are the places where most creative economy businesses congregate. So last Saturday coming from Clarksdale were the Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream crew and the Delta Yoga yogis. Blue Delta Jeans came down from Oxford and Art Place rolled over from Greenwood. The Grin Coffee family came up from Hattiesburg. And our Valley crews, well, they just showed up downtown. They’re pretty much there every Saturday anyway.

The photography wrapped up at Yalobusha Brewery, also the subject of the one of the coming films. There is a new bottling line there; the brewery just hired three new people and plans to hire more. Every Coulter Fussell designed bottle label says “Water Valley, Miss” on it. It’s great to see that line in action. Check out the 4 current released films by searching for “Vimeo Blue Magnolia”.
 


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Destination Downtown conference to be held in Little Rock
by FOR THE COURIER
 

LITTLE ROCK — Main Street Arkansas, the Mississippi Main Street Association and the Louisiana Main Street program will sponsor Destination Downtown 2015 in Little Rock Sept. 14-16, Main Street Arkansas Director Greg Phillips announced Wednesday. Main Street Arkansas is a program area of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.



Destination Downtown is a regional conference for those interested in preservation-based commercial district revitalization and is targeted toward Main Street directors, board members and volunteers as well as architects, planners, economic development professional, public officials and consultants. Featured speakers will include Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow and Charles E. Fraser Chair for Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy, and Warwick Sabin, executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.



General registration is $100 until Sept. 1 and $150 afterward. To register or for more information visit http://www.mainstreetarkansas.com/Events-and-News/destination-downtown.



Main Street Arkansas provides technical assistance and design services to help create economic development in the state’s downtown areas. The Main Street approach to downtown revitalization focuses on four areas: design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.



Cities currently involved in Main Street Arkansas are Batesville, Blytheville, Dumas, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Hardy, Helena, Jonesboro, Little Rock’s South Main Street (SoMa), Osceola, Ozark, Paragould, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Siloam Springs, Texarkana and West Memphis. Members of Main Street’s Arkansas Downtown Network are Pine Bluff, Heber Springs, Fort Smith, DeWitt, Morrilton, Rector, Monticello, Arkadelphia, Clarksville, Warren, Wynne, Fayetteville, Forrest City, Malvern and Pocahontas. Other sponsors of the Main Street Arkansas program are the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. To learn more about Main Street Arkansas, visit http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/main-street/.



The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is the agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage responsible for the identification, evaluation, registration and preservation of the state’s cultural resources. Other agencies in the department are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Historic Arkansas Museum.


 

MGM Park

The crown on the ten-year comeback

Article and all photos by Joe Mock, BaseballParks.com
All rights reserved

It was one of those events in American history. Everyone remembers where they were as they watched cable news to see how much damage Hurricane Katrina was going to inflict on New Orleans. It was the only news story on TV from August 28 through 31, 2005.

 

Ballpark Stats

Team: Biloxi Shuckers of the Double-A Southern League
First game: June 6, 2015, a 5-4 win over Mobile
Capacity: 6,000, including 4,200 fixed seats
Architects: Dale Partners
Construction: Yates
Price: $36 million for entire project. Ballpark itself was $28 million
Home dugout: 1B side
Field points: southeast
Playing surface: Tifway 419 Bermudagrass
Betcha didn't know: The playing field is 21 feet above sea level, the minimum height permitted

My memories are particularly vivid. When I woke up on Saturday, August 28, 2005, I was in New Orleans. The night before, I'd attended an NFL exhibition game in the Louisiana Superdome—the last event there prior to thousands of locals being stuffed inside to take cover from the hurricane. And it was where the storm damaged the roof so severely that it began to leak.

 

When I woke up that morning, I strolled down to the breakfast area in my hotel, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. As I walked into the room, I noticed no one was eating. Instead, quite a large crowd had gathered around the big-screen TV, taking in every word being spoken by the CNN host. No one in the room said a thing. They all were taking in the unimaginable news: the path of Hurricane Katrina had veered to the west, and it was heading directly toward New Orleans. It was due to smash into the Crescent City the next day.

 

I forgot all about breakfast and ran to my room. I hastily checked out, hopped in my rental, and sped to the airport to get out of town. I-10 running from downtown to the airport seemed eerily, crazily empty. In fact, the sun was out. It didn't seem possible that a massive disaster could be in the forecast for the next day. The reality didn't sink in for the local residents immediately, but by that evening, that same highway was jammed. And two days later, portions of it would be underwater.

 

The events of that week are etched in everyone's memory. Ask the average American today "where did Katrina hit the mainland?" and most would say "New Orleans."

 

They'd be wrong.

 

"On the morning of August 29, the headline in the newspaper was 'Katrina heads for New Orleans.' The next day, it was 'New Orleans dodges bullet,'" recalls Vincent Creel, who handles public relations for the City of Biloxi, Mississippi. "But that's not the real story. Yes, New Orleans was damaged by the floodwaters when their levees broke, but the real devastation from the storm happened here. It was the largest natural disaster in U.S. history."

 

Indeed, the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans had received a blow that was nearly fatal. Hotel after hotel, building after building, house after house ... all had been destroyed or severely damaged. In all, 90% of Biloxi's buildings along the coast were destroyed, and 53 of the city's residents died in the storm. The storm surge was so high that the Beau Rivage, a casino hotel that is central to the story of Biloxi's new ballpark, had severe damage all the way up to its third floor.

 

Fast forward five years, and another disaster completely filled the 24-hour-a-day news cycle: the Gulf oil spill. When an explosion rocked a British Petroleum oil platform off the coast of Louisiana, millions of gallons of crude oil poured into the salty water.

 

This happened at the beginning of tourist season along the Gulf Coast. And following the spill, tourism there ground to an absolute halt.

 

What do these two disasters have to do with a new ballpark?

 

Everything, as you will see.

 

One person who envisioned professional baseball coming to the Gulfport-Biloxi area was Tim Bennett. "When I was young, I lived in Central Florida. I had a grass-cutting business, and some of my customers were the owners of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays," he recalled. "They saw something in me, and asked if I'd like to be involved in a change they were contemplating in their Minor League club in Orlando."

 

Bennett was able to see what was involved when a franchise changes markets, especially when a new ballpark is involved. After initially thinking the Orlando team might end up in Jackson, Mississippi, they landed in Montgomery, Alabama. The very successful franchise is today called the Biscuits, and they play in beautiful Riverwalk Park.

 

Enormous upgrade

When the Shuckers were known as the Huntsville Stars, they played in Joe W. Davis Stadium, easily the worst park in the Southern League—and probably in all of Double-A baseball.

But Bennett saw great potential in Jackson, which had lost its team to Round Rock, Texas when no new ballpark was forthcoming. Consequently, he worked with the state of Mississippi and the Atlanta Braves on moving their Double-A team from Greenville, SC into a brand-new park in the Jackson suburb of Pearl.

 

However, there was something about the Biloxi-Gulfport area that captivated Bennett. He felt there should be a team there, and starting in 2004, he began researching ways that it might happen. No sooner had he started gaining some momentum when Katrina arrived. "Instantly, baseball was no longer the main focus," he explained. "The area was just trying to survive, trying to roll up its sleeves and rebuild from all of the devastation." Once again, he started laying the groundwork for a franchise along the Gulf Coast, and once again, a disaster derailed the plans, as the oil spill killed the lifeblood of the local economy: tourism.

 

As the region came back, other roadblocks to a team occurred—one of which was political. "At one point, I had the five votes I needed on the (Biloxi) City Council to move forward with a team and a ballpark, but before the vote was taken, two of those Council members resigned and three others were booted out of office. That was disheartening, but it didn't stop me," he said.

 

Another entity that was very instrumental in pushing for a new ballpark was Biloxi architectural firm Dale Partners. Leigh Jaunsen, a partner of the firm, put it this way: "To make the plan come together, we had to have three things lined up: the funding for the park; the land to build it on; a team to play there. So many times during that period, we would have two of the three, but not the third. At one point we had the land picked out and a team to come, but we didn't have the funding pinned down. Or when we had a funding package in place and a site, we didn't have a team."

 

You might think that convincing a team to move to a new market that's building a new park would be easy, but even that path was bumpy. The Huntsville Stars of the Southern League played for years in easily the worst park in Double-A baseball, and there were constant rumors that they were ripe for relocation. However, Bennett knew another side of the story. "Miles Prentice (majority owner of the Stars) is a man of his word. He pledged to do everything he could to make it work in Huntsville, and he spent years doing exactly that." In the end, though, the stadium there was so sub-par that there really was no choice, and Prentice agreed to sell the team Baseball Biloxi, a group led by Ken Young, who also owns the Triple-A team in Albuquerque.

 

Finally, with Bennett making many of the key connections behind the scenes, a plan came together in May of 2013. The Stars would move from Huntsville to a new park in Biloxi that would be funded by $21 million dollars of bonds to be issued by the City, and the State of Mississippi's Department of Environmental Quality would add another $15 million. The source of those State dollars? The British Petroleum settlement money following the oil spill. Meanwhile, the company that owns the Beau Rivage, MGM, would lease the city the land for $1 a year in exchange for a parking garage for its employees and naming rights on the ballpark. (Apparently, Minor League Baseball balked at a ballpark being named for a casino—as they should—so that's why the parent company's name ended up on the park.)

 

In December of that year, a contingent that included Mississippi's governor, Biloxi's Chief Administrative Officer and Tim Bennett (by now, a part owner of the Stars) attended the Baseball Winter Meetings to seek approval of the franchise move and the change in the team ownership. Within a month, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Southern League had all given their approval.

 

Dale Partners was named the architect, another Mississippi firm (Yates) was named the construction company, and a showy groundbreaking ceremony was held on the site on January 23, 2014. Everything was on target for the franchise's first game in the new park to be on Opening Day in April of 2015.

 

But you knew there'd be more challenges to overcome.

 

"When we started the construction process, we were using the 'construction manager' method," Jaunsen said. Under this, as site preparation was going on, contracts were granted to start the design work. Then they released several design options to construction firms so they could calculate what they would charge to build it. "For various reasons, the proposals that came back were all way over budget. The City then scrapped the whole 'construction manager' process and put it out for straight bid. This is what's called a general works package. Since the City couldn't actually offer the construction bonds for sale until the final designs were completed, this delayed the City Council from selling the bonds." These delays caused the construction project to fall way behind—to the point where it became obvious that the ballpark wasn't going to be finished by April of 2015.

 

The mover and shaker

When you talk to officials with the City of Biloxi, the Dale Partners architecture firm and the Shuckers' front office, one name comes up over and over as being the key person who made MGM Park a reality: Tim Bennett. From the state's grant of $15 million to a $2 million video board, Bennett is the one who worked behind the scenes to make it happen. In the photo, Bennett is holding his daughter Tatum with MGM Park in the background.

Since there was no contingency plan for games to be played locally until the new stadium was completed (it marked the first time since 1908 that pro baseball was going to be played in Biloxi, so there was no ballpark in town that could host the team in the interim), the team announced that all games would be played elsewhere until the stadium was completed. "Home" games were played in their old park in Huntsville as well as in Jacksonville and Pearl. In all, the team played the first 54 games of the 2015 season away from Biloxi. The team, now known as the Shuckers, flourished as a road team, clinching the first half championship of the Southern League's South Division with a week still to go. "Obviously, our players bonded under the adversity," said Shuckers' GM Buck Rogers. "Not since my days in the army have I seen a group of young men come together like that."

 

In May, the team announced that the first game would be played in their new ballpark on Saturday June 6, and they put tickets on sale on May 11.

 

Then came one final obstacle.

 

On May 27, just 10 days before the scheduled opener, newly elected Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich announced that baseball would not be played at MGM Park on June 6 after all, and it could be as late of August 4 before the stadium would be ready. After being taken for a tour of the construction site and being told that it would cost the City $380,000 for Yates to accelerate the construction schedule to get it ready for June 6, the Mayor made the announcement that the home opener was being delayed because of "traffic and parking (and) public safety concerns," adding "there are still many construction issues to be completed before the stadium could open."

 

Undeterred, the team continued selling tickets. They gathered the key stakeholders and just one day after the Mayor had announced that the home opener was being delayed, his office released another statement saying that "a deal has been struck where the city would pay no additional money other than what is already obligated and the stadium can host its first game on June 6."

 

And on June 6, the city issued a temporary occupancy permit for the stadium, and the Shuckers went on to win a 14-inning marathon over Mobile, 5-4. A crowd of 5,065 crammed into the partially completed facility, thereby christening the new park.

 

But professional baseball isn't the only activity scheduled at MGM Park during the 2015 season. "At the ballpark on the morning of August 29, we'll be holding an event nicknamed 'K 10,' on the tenth anniversary of Katrina," Creel explained. "We'll remember the people who perished in that storm—53 in Biloxi and 97 total in Harrison County. We'll also thank the first responders and all of the volunteers and everybody who helped in our recovery. We've held a memorial service each year on Katrina's anniversary, but after we do this one on the tenth anniversary, I hope we don't hold any more."

 

The evening of August 29 will be a different kind of event, this one also at MGM Park. The Concert for the Gulf Coast will feature Dr. John and other entertainers as the residents of the area celebrate all they've accomplished in the preceding 10 years.

 

"We're holding these two events in a building that we think is a testament to the resolve and the spirit of this community," Creel added.

 

After Katrina and the Gulf oil spill, the people of Biloxi showed the world that they refused to sit back and wait for the Federal Government to come and fix everything. No, they rolled up their sleeves and went to work—not just rebuilding what had been destroyed, but also making things better—better for the many tourists who keep the local economy humming, but also for the local residents. And just as the city overcame obstacle after obstacle, bringing pro baseball to Biloxi overcame numerous roadblocks.  Truly, MGM Park is a testament to Biloxi's resolve, and puts a crown on the ten-year comeback from Katrina.

 

But what is MGM Park like? What is it close to, and what is it like to attend a game there? Read on and you'll find out.

 


The
setting

As far as markets hosting pro baseball go, Biloxi isn't all that large. Its population is about 45,000. However, its county (Harrison) includes Gulfport, which is the second largest city in the state of Mississippi, boasting a population of about 68,000. All told, Harrison County has about 187,000 residents—more than enough to support pro baseball.

 

But it's not just the permanent residents who support the Shuckers. Keep in mind that tourism is the top industry here, and visitors fill the local casino hotels and inns all through the baseball season.

 

This shot was taken from the top floor of the Beau Rivage, looking north. Interstate 110 runs along the west edge of the park all the way to the major east-west highway along the Gulf Coast, I-10. In the upper right corner of the shot is the high-rise IP Casino Resort & Spa, which is adjacent to the body of water where Big Lake and Mullet Lake (to the west) flow into Biloxi Bay (to the east). Downtown Biloxi is to the east of the ballpark.

 

As far as accessibility goes, MGM Park couldn't be in a better spot. Located near the intersection of Interstate 110 and US Highway 90 (the street in the foreground of the photo above), motorists have easy access to the ballpark.

 

Highway 90 was originally called the Old Spanish Trail. It runs right along the coast all through Gulfport and Biloxi. Sure, it's congested, but a drive along it lets you see it all—beaches, piers, hotels, condos, restaurants and exactly half a mile west of the ballpark, Biloxi's most famous landmark. The Biloxi Lighthouse was constructed in 1848, and perhaps the most amazing aspect of its fascinating history is that it withstood Katrina. Despite a storm surge that completely submerged its base, the mighty lighthouse remained standing. In fact, one of the alternate logos of the Shuckers is an image of this lighthouse with the waves of Katrina crashing into its base.

 

Over on the east side of the I-110 ramps you'll find the Beau Rivage, the Hard Rock Casino, a number of docks and quite an expanse of beautiful beaches.

 

Closer to the ballpark are quite a few interesting sights. You really should arrive at the Shuckers game early and walk through the lovely area of old Biloxi. Here you'll find the historic Saenger Theater (where the team held its announcement of the team name and logo in November 2014) and the gorgeous Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just a block east of the ballpark. In the neighborhood are quaint shops and cafes.

 

Like the Beau Rivage, the Hard Rock Casino sits on the strip of land between Highway 90 and the waters of the Gulf. The center photo is the Biloxi Lighthouse which sits in the median of Highway 90. The beach in front of the lighthouse is right on the Gulf. The entrance ramps in the foreground are for I-110. On the right is Biloxi's famous cathedral, just a block east of MGM Park.
 

And overlooking all of it is the Beau Rivage, which sits between the ballpark and the waters of the Gulf, just across Highway 90.

Welcome to the Beau Rivage, the casino hotel that made MGM Park possible by donating the land for the facility. The lobby and casino areas are indeed beautiful. By the way, the BR is quite clever in their strategy to attract baseball fans. Fans are encouraged to park for free in the hotel's massive garage. Then they are directed down to the hotel's lobby where restaurants and gaming are just a right-hand turn from the path to the ballpark. And not wanting to miss an opportunity, the BR sells Shuckers apparel and merchandise right on the way to and from the ballpark.
 

The exact plot of ground designated for the ballpark has an interesting history. Biloxi's original resort hotel, the Buena Vista, was located here. It had five stories and 200 rooms and was constructed in 1924. Hurricane Camile in 1969 dealt massive damage to the structure and the grand facility never recovered. To commemorate the fact that MGM Park was built on the very site of this grand hotel, the beer garden down the ballpark's first-base line is dubbed, of course, Buena Vista.

 

After the hotel burned down in 1991, the Beau Rivage came to own the land. It used the site for a variety of functions to support the hotel, including a sewage pumping station (which is still there today, although south of the ballpark's footprint) and surface parking for employees and tour buses. When construction of the ballpark began, several small structures had to be demolished. Their functions were consolidated in a building that still stands just outside the ballpark's northern exterior.

 

Interestingly, the site's northeast corner (currently undeveloped) could add a great feature to the park's surroundings. An entertainment center complete with bowling lanes could be in the works, and could open as soon as 2016.

 


The
exterior

While the surroundings of MGM Park are well worth exploring, the facility's exterior isn't its strongest aspect. It features the same color and construction materials (including a stucco look) that match the Beau Rivage—which makes sense, since the massive hotel is visible from just about every spot in the ballpark. But the structure isn't likely to draw stares like, say, El Paso's Southwest University Park or Birmingham's Regions Field.

 

During the parks' first season, there is only one entryway (above left). It sits at the northeast corner of the park, next to the left-field foul pole. Because the main concourse is well above the field level, a grand stairway leads you to the gates. The main ticket windows are next to the stairs ... and there's no missing the Beau Rivage two blocks away.

 

Like Monongalia County Ballpark in West Virginia, there is no entry behind home plate. In West Virginia, it's because the park was built into the side of a hill. In Biloxi, pedestrians can't really access that part of the park's exterior. In fact, on the first base side, cars on I-110 zip by quite close to the walkway behind the luxury suites (above right). This is quite similar to the Interstate lanes that are mere feet from the edge of Busch Stadium in St. Louis. By the way, the water in the distance of the picture above is the Gulf. This is one of the few places in the park where you can see it.

 

Beyond the ballpark's right field is the parking garage that was still under construction when the park opened. When finished, it won't be for the average Shuckers fan to use. Instead, it's for employees of the Beau Rivage. Shuckers players and coaches will be allowed to park there, as will luxury-suite holders.

 

 

Directly beyond the batter's eye in center field is an entryway that wasn't completed when I visited (above left). Once finished, it will be the natural entry point for the hundreds of fans who park (for free) in the Beau Rivage's main parking garage, since it is almost directly across the street.

 

Between the finished entry and the unfinished one is a pleasant tree-line walkway that runs parallel to the left-field fence (above right).

 

MGM Park

The crown on the ten-year comeback - page 2


The
design

 

Leigh Jaunsen of Dale Partners explained to me that MGM Park wasn't their first baseball project. "We did Trustmark Park when Tim Bennett was successful in bringing the (Atlanta) Braves' team from South Carolina to Pearl, Mississippi," she explained. "We then worked with Tim when he started trying to bring baseball to Biloxi about ten years ago. We're always interested in working on projects that will bring economic development to an area"—especially when that area is where Dale has its offices!

 

It's natural to compare Trustmark Park to MGM Park since the same architects did both, but in reality, they don't resemble each other very much. That's because the field is below street level in Pearl and is at (or a little above) street level in Biloxi. "We had an excavated seating bowl at Trustmark, while here we actually build the field up," she said. "Here the field has an elevation of exactly 21 feet (above sea level), which is the minimum allowed to meet flood-zone requirements. By comparison, Highway 90 is at about 10 feet."

 

So there was no excavation here. To the contrary, the raised stands and upper deck give the ballpark quite a tall profile.

 

Another major difference between Pearl's park and Biloxi's is the upper level. The Mississippi Braves' stadium has a free-standing upper level, which means the main concourse at the rear of the seating bowl runs directly underneath the pressbox and suites of the second level. I'm sure there are ample engineering and architectural reasons why this wasn't feasible at MGM Park, but it's a shame this couldn't be done here. Not only would it have prevented the seats of the upper level from being set as far back from the field, it would've provided tremendously more cover from the wind and rain for fans on the concourse—and would've shaded far more of the seats. And lack of shade was a complaint I heard more than once while at MGM Park.

 

So the Shuckers' main walkway at the rear of the seats is an "open concourse" not only in the traditional sense (you can see the field from it), it is also extremely open in the literal sense, since it is pretty much open to the heavens above it, particularly behind home plate.

 

True, the roof of the upper level extends a little way out over the concourse, so a few fans can escape a downpour under it (like happened the night I was there), but nothing like Trustmark Park. If you've visited the majority of spring-training parks in Arizona, you are familiar with what I'm talking about.

 

As I mentioned, this "really open" concourse causes the patrons in the luxury suites to be positioned a little farther back from the field than in, say, West Virginia or (especially) Nashville. This also makes for an odd visual effect when you look up at the facing of the upper level from the seating bowl. In the two spots where elevators and stairs run up through the structures at the rear of the main concourse and into the upper level, there is only a blank wall facing the field. Signs—that aren't nearly large enough to overcome the blank space—are the only things on this blank spot (see shot below).

 

 

The seating bowl, though, is fantastic. It features something that few ballparks since the cookie-cutter days of the 1970s have done: have a smooth curve in the rows of seats (see below left). So many modern-day ballparks believe rows need to be straight, thereby necessitating odd changes in angles from one section to the next, and often rendering balls in the corners blocked from view. Not here. Not only does this sweeping curvature of the seats here have a beautiful look, it gives very nice sight-lines for the fans. Well done, Dale Partners!

 

The upper level—while set farther back than I'd like—is extremely nice. The suites are fantastic, and one on the 3B side that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz is extra large and has a long bar (above right). Really nice, and something you don't typically see at a ballpark. The press area (unlike in Nashville) is very roomy, and more than met my needs when I was there.

 

In each end of the upper level are party decks that can be booked by groups. The one on the 1B side has a view of the Gulf. There's also The Shed BBQ Terrace section down the LF line with table-tops.

 

Due to the constraints of the ballpark's footprint ("The stadium starts right on the line established by FEMA as being the edge of the flood zone," said Jaunsen), the berm in right field (below) is, in my opinion, way too small. You'll also notice on the right side of the photo, there is room near the RF foul pole for another group area or—even better—a gathering place for millennials like The Band Box at Nashville's new park. It's smart to plan for future expansion.

 

One last observation on the ballpark's design: the main souvenir shop is on the concourse, behind home plate. That means it's also one story above street level. It would be nice if it could have been located where it could be open on non-game days by having an entrance on the outside of the park. The team has a large store several blocks away that serves this year-round purpose (and that sold a LOT of merchandise while the team was on its 54-game roadtrip to start the season). but it's nice when a team's main retail outlet is within the stadium but accessible from the outside.

 

So while there are lots of very nice features in MGM Park, the architecrtural design isn't exactly the most striking in the sport. The bottom line is that it works well in its space, and allowed the team to have a more-than-adequate facility while staying within its budget. And I was happy when the Shuckers' principal owner Ken Young told me, "We have a lot of things we want to do for next year which will improve (the park) even more."


The
essentials

If the stadium's design isn't the best in all of Minor League baseball, the experience of attending a Shuckers' game more than makes up for it. GM Buck Rogers has won as many awards as anyone in Minor League Baseball, and his fingerprints are all over the gameday experience at MGM Park.

 

Let's look at what it's like to attend a Shuckers game.

 

Unless you're staying at one of the numerous hotels in walking distance (Beau Rivage, Best Western, Four Points by Sheraton, Hard Rock), you'll need to find a place to park. Entrepreneurs sell spaces in vacant lots less than a block from the stadium for $10. If you're willing to walk a little farther, you'll find spaces due east of the park for little or no money, plus you'll get to see the shops (including the Shucker's main souvenir store) and cafes in the old section of Biloxi's quaint downtown. And you can park for free in the Beau Rivage parking garage two blocks to the south.

 

"Before the stadium opened, we envisioned a parking problem when there would be 6,000 fans present for baseball," recalled Creel. "We warned people that there'd be issues, but so far, there haven't been any. Besides, we like fans parking downtown because then they are walking right by restaurants and galleries."

 

Good news for 2016: a pedestrian bridge over Highway 90 is scheduled to be built from the BR garage to get fans to the park a little quicker—and away from the temptations of the casino inside the hotel.

 

As is the case with many teams in the Minors, tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance, so plan ahead and you'll save $2 on all reserved seats. The day-of-game price for the Club seats right next to the field is $27, which is comparable to Nashville ($26) but a good bit higher than Pensacola ($18) which is also in the Southern League and in a fairly new park. Box seats in the infield in Biloxi are a reasonable $15 and reserved seats farther down the line are $13—and are $1 cheaper for kids and seniors. Berm/General Admission tickets are only sold on the day of the game, and are $10, which is high, especially since there's no price break for kids. Berm tickets in Nashville and Pensacola are $7 and $8, by the way.

 

 

As I mentioned, there are several group areas. The ones at the ends of the upper deck each accommodate up to 36 fans and include a buffet for $2,000. The Bud Light Upper Deck is shown above left. Groups with between 28 and 100 members pay $31 a person for The Shed BBQ Terrace in LF, which includes table-top seating and food (above right).

 

I love the name of the Shuckers' 20-game partial season-ticket package, which is referred to as the "Shmini plan."

 

 

If you're looking for Shuckers merchandise with the adorable oyster logo, you have three places you can go. The main store is two-and-a-half blocks from the main entrance to the ballpark (photo above left). The presence of this retail outlet was crucial during the many months between the announcement of the team name and the opening of the ballpark, and its popularity has led the team to decide to keep it open indefinitely. Your second option for souvenirs is the retail store on the park's main concourse (above right)—which, you'll recall, isn't accessible from the outside. The third is a kiosk on the concourse down the 3B line.

 

There are a lot of apparel options, and the prices are pretty reasonable. Men's long-sleeve T-shirts are $29.99 while short-sleeve tees are $21.99 and $29.99. Women's tees are $24.99 and $29.99, and a tank top is $24.99. Men's polos are $69.99 and a women's version is $59.99. Kid's tees are $15.99 and $19.99, while their caps are $14.99 and $19.99. Adult caps are $24.99 (adjustable) and $34.99 (fitted).

 

I love the alternate logo of the Biloxi lighthouse, complete with Katrina's waves crashing into its foundation. Yes, it appears on a T-shirt. And there's excellent news on the lapel-pin front. They have three different styles, and all are only $4.99—a great price. Longtime readers will note that this is my favorite souvenir item, as I collect them from every park I go to.

 

And further proof of the popularity of the team nickname and logo comes from online sales. "Sales to fans out of town have been excellent," Babs Rogers, the retail manager (and wife of GM Buck Rogers), told me. "People really like our logo."

 

Too bad those out-of-town fans can't sample the phenomenal concessions at MGM Park (hint: come to Biloxi to see this cool park and eat the unbelievable food!). Ken Young, president of Ovations Food Service, is the principal owner of the Shuckers, so it's only natural that Ovations is the food-service vendor here. They did a great job of bringing their "everything's fresh" approach to the food at MGM Park, as they've done at El Paso, which has perhaps the best concessions in the Minors.

 

The heart of the menu is, thankfully, local. The waters of Biloxi Bay and the Gulf offer nationally famous seafood, and the Aw Shucks Gulf Grill on the concourse near 1B is where to start your culinary tour of the ballpark. Here you'll find big, delicious Peel 'N Eat Shrimp ($9), a tasty-but-not-overly-spicy bowl of Bayou Jambalaya ($9), Grilled Cajun Sausage ($8) and a Cajun delicacy called Boudin that has a rice and sausage mixture in a pork casing ($8). But the star of this stand is the Garlic Butter Grilled Oysters. These delicious beauties are on the half shell, and grilled right in front of you, and served with French bread on a frisbee adorned with the Shuckers' logo. The dish costs $15 and is worth every penny.

FANTASTIC LOCAL FARE

Ovations Food Services and the Shuckers do as good a job of bringing in local food as any team anywhere. The Aw Shucks stand features the creature from which the team derives its name, glorious grilled oysters (above right). The kiosk also features jambalaya and boudin (photo on bottom left). The Pearl's Po Boys stand offers po boys with oysters, shrimp or sausage. The photo on the lower right shows one with both oysters and shrimp.
 

I would stack the Aw Shucks concession stand up against any in the Minors. It's that good.

 

The most noteworthy BBQ establishment in the area is The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint. They have two locations nearby, and their marinades and "ShedSpread" sauces are sold nationwide. The have a stand near the souvenir store on the main concourse, and here you will find a Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich ($7.50 with slaw), watermelon slices ($6) and perhaps the most popular food item at the park, the Shuckers BBQ Nachos ($8.50). Ovations' GM Mike Brulatour told me that when he worked at AutoZone Park in Memphis, fans were crazy for the BBQ nachos served there, so he teamed up with The Shed to create a Biloxi version.

 

With the Brewers being the Shuckers' parent team, it only makes sense to serve a Brewers Beer Brat ($6). It's found at the Home Plate Hot Dogs stand, along with a Vegan Hot Dog ($4. Are there Vegans in Biloxi, Mississippi?), and an excellent Jumbo Hot Dog made by Sara Lee ($4).

 

Ovations Executive Chef Bob Barlow insisted I try the Savory Hand Fried Chips that are made there at the ballpark. I'm glad he did, because they are delicious. They are served with the sandwiches at Pearl's Po Boys on the 3B side. There you can have true Southern-style Po Boys made with fried oysters (my choice), shrimp or Cajun sausage. All are $8 with the chips.

 

MGM Park is a Coke facility, but there's no denying Barq's Root Beer a place at the beverage table. That's because the hometown of Barq's is Biloxi, where Edward Barq Sr. created the drink in 1898. The Barq's Creamery concession stand is almost directly behind home plate, and here you can score ice cream, cotton candy and two sizes of root beer floats ($6 and $8). Go for the large.

 

"You might not realize it, but the Biloxi area has excellent craft beers," Brulatour revealed. For you craft beer aficionados, check out the Buena Vista Beer Garden down the 1B concourse. As you'll recall, the swanky Buena Vista Hotel once sat on the spot where the ballpark is now. At this stand, 20-ounce drafts are $8.

 

All in all, the concessions here are as good as any in the Southern League. "We took the best of what the Gulf has to offer and combined it with the great Southern traditions of this area," Brulatour remarked. "We think we hit it out of the park."

 

 

Fans also enjoy having two different video boards to view. The original budget only allowed for the board that is in left field. Not huge and not particularly high-res. But deal-maker Tim Bennett stepped in and negotiated an arrangement with video-screen manufacturer Trans-Lux where the City only had to pay for the installation of the boards, while also receiving additional ad revenue from the video screens. Now that less-than-impressive scoreboard in LF is joined by one in RF that is a 32' by 46' stunner (both shots above). "Trans-Lux said that they really appreciated the effort I'd put in over 10 or 11 years in bringing this team to Biloxi," Bennett explained with absolutely no hint of boasting. "They not only gave us a great deal on a board that would normally cost $2 million, but they also bought a suite from us and they provide tickets for underprivileged kids in the area." No doubt, the Shuckers and the City are fortunate to have partners like Bennett (which is quite an understatement) and Trans-Lux.

 

You can get a great idea of how important the gameday experience is to the Shuckers by examining what the team and City did on opening day on June 6. Streets were closed and "The Ultimate Tailgate Party" ruled the day. Featured were live bands, free refreshments (courtesy of the Beau Rivage), a parade and a special ceremony to introduce the team members. And, of course, a spectacular fireworks show capped off the evening.

 

Fireworks, by the way, are set off from the outfield, not beyond it. That's a nice effect ... as is everything about the gameday experience at a Shuckers game!


Summary

"Our community is a special place," said Biloxi Mayor Gilich. "We have a 315-year-old brand here, and we have an obligation to remind people of just how special our place is. We have sun-loving, hard-working people living here in a family-oriented place. MGM Park will keep reminding everyone about that."

 

It's not often that you can draw inspiration from the opening of a baseball park, but MGM Park certainly qualifies. "You know, here in Biloxi we are celebrating Katrina's anniversary. We're saying to Mother Nature 'You gave us your best shot and we're still standing,' We didn't quit. We didn't give up," observed Tim Bennett, the man who made so many connections in making the ballpark a reality. During the city's rebuilding period, "we weren't cowards. We weren't going to run and hide. And now we're back. The concert we're holding here (on August 29) shows that 10 years after Katrina, we are standing strong.

 

"This is all about the people of the Coast and for those people," he continued. "This is like earning a diploma after years of studying. We changed laws. We demanded BP money for the ballpark. We built the ballpark differently where we had to. And now we have a pro baseball team affiliated with a Major League team. What better gift can a community get than that?"

 

With an inspiring, fascinating story of how it came to be, and with surroundings that deserve to be explored, MGM Park should be attracting fans through any storms and spills that may come to the Gulf Coast in the future.

 

 

 


A Halloween treat featured in Biloxi

Are Those Really Ghosts and Goblins in the Biloxi Cemetery?
Are Those Really Ghosts and Goblins in the Biloxi Cemetery?
Edited for the Examiner by Hank Richards at (256) 738-8077
 

Always in time for the ghosts and goblins, the annual Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour is scheduled for Sunday October 18th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and then the tour repeats on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. This is the same tour on both dates.

 

The event is a self-guided, continuously performed event, so attendees may arrive anytime and witness all eight re-enactments with 10 characters. There will be an opening ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on October 18th at the Baby Land located in the east section of the cemetery.

 

This year’s theme, Building Biloxi, features the lives of Biloxians who constructed our community in many different ways.

 

In keeping with tradition, this is a free public event but donations are always welcome. The tour will showcase history-based reenactments at graveside.

 

The walking entrance to the tour can be accessed from either the Highway 90 gate or from Irish Hill. Parking at the adjacent Elks Lodge is highly encouraged and refreshments will be provided.

 

Those to be portrayed during the 2015 self-guided tour are: John R Harkness, T.J. Rosell, John T. Collins, Alma Ritch and Priscilla Ritch, Reverand Alphonse Ketels, Joseph Fortune Meyer, Charles Redding, G. W. Wilkes and John Mavar.

 

For more information on sponsored events in Biloxi, call Kaye Miller-Carter, (228) 435-6339, at Downtown Services.

 


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CMSA “Sparkplug” Karen Ott Mayer to Speak at First Annual National Rensselaerville Institute Summit

Como Main Street Alliance (CMSA) volunteer coordinator, Karen Ott Mayer, has been invited to speak at The Rensselaerville Institute’s “Community Sparkplugs” First National Summit in Emory, Virginia on August 6, 2015. The conference, which runs August 5-7, focuses on bringing together investors and implementers to build a national movement for reinventing citizenry through people-led innovation in communities.

 

Mayer joins approximately 25 other “sparkplugs” at the conference. Community Sparkplugs, a signature program of The Rensselaerville Institute, are people who help other people without being paid to do it. As stated on the Community Sparkplugs website: “They are the local heroes that exist in every small town and urban neighborhood in America. They take initiative and start groups and projects that achieve amazing results for people and communities. They are the scarcest and most valuable form of a locality’s social capital.”

 

In 2012, Como participated in the Mississippi Community Action Project (MCAP), a fast-moving grant program that zeroes in on achieving results and works with communities within the Mississippi Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) region. Implemented in Mississippi by the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, the program engages communities through statewide trainings like Your Town and First Impressions while teaching strategic planning.

 

“We decided as a group to target the historic city hall located on Main Street and work to create a new vision for that building which had been abandoned for years,” said Mayer.

 

Over a six-month period, CMSA board members worked through their project plan, gutting the building and working with a mold remediation contractor. Earlier this year, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) awarded CMSA a Certified Local Government (CLG) grant to replace the roof and continue work on the building. The Town of Como matched the grant.

 

Mayer will speak specifically to investors, board members, and other communities about Como’s project results and ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the building and how MCAP impacted the board and local citizens.

 

Founded in 1963, The Rensselaerville Institute boasts the tag line, “The think tank with muddy boots,” as conferred upon the group by The Wall Street Journal. Working primarily within a region from the Mississippi Delta through Appalachia to upstate New York, The Institute’s primary goal is to help community “sparkplugs” achieve clear and quantifiable results using a results framework designed to improve people’s lives.

 

Mayer says past and present volunteers and board members have been critical to sustained work, including Meg Bartlett, Patsy Brown, Mary Lipscomb, John Land, Alice Pierotti and Kole Conley, all of whom participated either in Your Town or First Impressions.

 

“Everyone with CMSA is honored we are being invited to this conference. I personally believe strongly in The Institute’s principle that one person can make a difference,” Mayer said. “While money is nice and always helps, in the end, it’s all about who you are and what you do in a community that holds the greatest sustainable power.”

 

For more information, visit www.rinstitute.org.

 


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Main Street represented on Mississippi Creative Economy Advisory Panel

Jackson, Miss. (July 22, 2015) - Twenty-three creative professionals, community leaders and economic developers from across the state have been selected for an advisory panel—the first of its kind—to grow the Mississippi Creative Economy. The advisory panel will help guide Visit Mississippi’s  Bureau of Creative Economy & Culture’s strategic planning and resources, which are designed to enhance and expand the state’s creative sector. The panel will convene in an inaugural meeting on July 29 at The Hatch, a creative business incubator located in Midtown Jackson. 

 

"The purpose of the Creative Economy Advisory Panel is to build the statewide infrastructure needed to grow the creative sector," said Malcolm White, Director of Visit Mississippi. “It will bring key influencers together who are committed to fostering creative people, businesses, and communities in their hometowns. Investing in, engaging, and promoting Mississippi’s creative people and their work will ultimately enhance the quality of life throughout our state."

 

Members of the new Creative Economy Advisory Panel include:

David Crews of Cleveland, chef instructor at Mississippi Delta Community College, executive chef of Six Shooter Land and Timber, executive chef of Merrimac Farms

Andy O'Bryan of Water Valley, founder & president of Yalobusha Craft Beer 

Neil White, creative director and publisher at The Nautilus Publishing Co. 

Neal McCoy of Tupelo, executive director of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Al White of Duck Hill, director of Action Communication and Education Reform (ACER) 

Tim Moore of Philadelphia, Chamber/Main Street director

Leslie Hiatt of Meridian, account executive at Leading Edges Ad Agency

Martha Whitney Butler of Bay St. Louis, owner of French Portager

Lori Watts of Columbia, project manager for Marion County Development Partnership

Dub Rogers of Natchez, owner and creator of Steampunk Coffee Roasters

Milton Chambliss of Port Gibson, director of Claiborne Economic Development District

Daniel Johnson of Jackson, director of Engagement and Learning at Mississippi Museum of Art

Whitney Grant of Jackson, director of Community Development at Midtown Partners

Matthew McLaughlin of Jackson, attorney at Baker Donelson

Rhea Williams-Bishop of Jackson, executive director of The Center for Education Innovation

Bob Wilson of Jackson, executive director of Mississippi Main Street

Mary Martha Henson of Jackson, executive director and chief operating officer of MEDC

Meg Cooper of Rolling Fork, director of the Lower Delta Partnership

Charly Abraham of Cleveland, instructor at Delta Music Institute

Lee Harper of Jackson, owner of Koinonia Coffee

Reggie Fullwood of Jackson, director of Jackson Medical Supply

Raven Brooks of Hattiesburg, events Coordinator for Hattiesburg Convention Commission

Ken Flynt of Meridian, owner of Art & Design Tech, LLC. 

 

Mississippi’s creative economy is the sum of all wealth generated by the state’s cultural and creative enterprises, institutions, people and places. It adds value to traditional economic sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, service and tourism, while influencing where people choose to live, work, learn and visit. Some examples of economically creative industries include performing arts, culinary, design, film and even craft breweries.

 

For more information on Mississippi’s creative economy, visit www.visitmississippi.org or www.mscreativeeconomy.com

Contact: Paige Hunt, Visit Mississippi | phunt@mississippi.org | 601-359-2707


OLD BICYCLES GET NEW LIFE

 

Project will promote tourism in Olde Towne

 

NELL LUTER FLOYD

 

CLARION-LEDGER CORRESPONDENT

 

Make time for a drive through Olde Towne in Clinton, and you might find yourself yearning to ride a bicycle again.

 

You could be inspired to find an old bike, get out your paints and give it new life as a piece of art.

 

Using imagination, creativity and ingenuity, Clinton artists have transformed almost a dozen bikes into something worth your time to see whether you walk, a drive or perhaps even more fitting, ride a bicycle, through the oldest part of town.

 

Take a few minutes to study each bike on display in front of businesses here and there, and you’ll probably be intrigued by the playfulness and personalityof each one. “The idea behind it all is that Clinton is a friendly community where you want to bike and spend time,” said Tara Lytal, program director at Main Street Clinton.

 

A downtown revitalization program, Main Street uses an old-fashioned yellow bicycle in its logo, so it seemed a natural fit to promote Olde Towne using bicycles, she said.

 

The bikes are expected to draw visitors to Olde Towne, which is bordered by Mississippi College to the south and the Clinton Parkway to the east, she said. The area, some of which is paved in red brick, features antique shops such as Leake Street Collection and When Pigs Fly, an art gallery thatshowcases works by watercolor artist Wyatt Waters, a book store with the name Pentimento Books, an outdoor adventure and clothing retailer known as Paxton Peak, a restaurant known as 303 Jefferson and Cups an Espresso Cafe.

 

The bikes also remind viewers in a subtle way that bike-riding is fun and a good way to exercise, Lytal said. The Natchez Trace Parkway is near Clinton and often a route for bicyclists.

 

Main Street Design Committee members thought about using bicycles made of Fiberglas, similar to the painted cow statues that were part of a public art exhibit in Chicago in the 1990s, but decided actual bicycles would be more authentic and keep costs down, she said.

 

“Some are old bikes, some are new,” Lytal said. “We started out by asking people who are professional artists to decorate bikes and then reached out from there.”

 

Waters, a watercolor artist and Beatles fan, was inspired to paint his bike yellow similar to John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V touring limousine that was yellow and decorated with bright blue and red flowers and psychedelic designs.

 

Sam Beibers, a watercolor artist who is exhibits supervisor at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, let his interest in cicadas lead him. He attached wings made of wire and big red eyes made of a Christmas ornament cut in half to give cicada characteristics— and even managed to finish the transformation before cicadas made their return this year.

 

“I asked for the ugliest bike they had and started over three times,” he said. “When I finished it, I liked it.”

 

George Ewing paints his creation, “Wheel of Dreams,” at his home in Clinton. When finished, it will go on display with other decorated bicycles throughout Olde Town Clinton.

 

The bicycle “Color Wheels,” by noted local artist Wyatt Waters, is at the intersection of Jefferson and Main streets.

 

PHOTOS BY CHRIS TODD / FOR THE CLARION-LEDGER


Marijane Whitfield paid homage to Clinton’s history with a taxicab yellow bike that features the words Clinton Taxi Co., has a pink flamingo as its driver and includes a rider that reminds one of the Mississippi College Choctaws and Clinton High School Arrows.

 

Beth Shores, who with her husband owns retailer Paxton Peak, told the story of her family on an outdoor journey — including their love of disc golf — on the green bike in front the store. “It all came to me as I was painting,” she said.

 

A bike painted by Titus Taylor, a Clinton youngster, with Frankenstein in mind will be on display during the fall market in Olde Towne on Oct. 10, Lytal said.

 

At least one bike is still in the works, Lytal said. She expects more to be added and perhaps a map will be produced that lists the locations.

 

So far, the project has cost about $500, Lytal said. Main Street volunteers came up with their own low-cost way to mount the bikes, each of which has a plaque that credits the artist andlists its name. Lytal, whose office is marked by a blue bicycle rimmed with Christmas lights, expects the bikes will be vibrant for two to three years. “We don’t know exactly how long they’ll last being outdoors,” she said.

 

Bill Hetrick, a broker associate at Hetrick Real Estate in Clinton and whose wife, Marilyn, serves as president of Main Street Clinton, said he’s impressed by the creativity of the artists.

 

“The bikes remind me of the catfish statues that were placed indowntown Jackson several years ago,” he said. “The designs are all over the board.

 

“Folks who haven’t been to Clinton really need to come to Olde Towne for one of the markets or other events. It’s a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon. It’s a pretty area, and the bikes add to the ambiance.”

 

Waters, who often rides a yellow cruiser style bike, said he’s pleased by the project.

 

“Olde Towne is turning into the personality part of Clinton, and I like that,” he said.

 

Edward Moak's 'Bike Rides in Mississippi' sits in front of Cups on Monroe at Main Street in downtown Clinton.

 

Marijane Whitfield's bright yellow creation, “My Sweet Life in Clinton,” is hard to miss at the intersection of Jefferson and West Leake streets in downtown Clinton.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS TODD / FOR THE CLARION-LEDGER

 


South Mississippi has seen millions of dollars of development so far this year; millions more to come

 

JUSTIN MITCHELL/SUN HERALD
People walk along Beach Boulevard on Friday in Bay St. Louis, where Triple Tails is under construction next to Buoy's.

South Mississippi can boast two new casino hotel towers, a new minor league baseball stadium and several new restaurants and stores this year—and we're only halfway through 2015.

 

The cranes are operating and the phones are ringing in cities across the Coast as developers look for new opportunities.

 

They abound. Only one miniature golf course has been operating in Biloxi since Hurricane Katrina, but two more will be opening this year. Banana's Mini Golf on Pass Road in East Gulfport is coming soon and a 36-hole championship course with an "erupting" volcano is part of the Scarlet Pearl Casino that will open in D'Iberville in December.

 

Other projects are equally captivating. Fishbone Alley promises to transform a rundown alley in Gulfport into a social hot spot modeled after Printer's Alley in Nashville. A newly proposed festival boardwalk is envisioned along Restaurant Row in Biloxi, where The Salty Oyster eatery just opened at Shaggy's and two more restaurants, Baja Beach Biloxi and Spinnakers beach bar, will open soon.

 

Several hotels are under construction and grand plans for shopping centers are being discussed.

 

"It's nice to see things coming back," Biloxi Councilman Felix Gines said. "Developers are showing interest, especially in the downtown area. The baseball stadium was the cornerstone," he said, and he sees business growing there and expanding down the Coast.

 

It isn't just businesses that are returning. Homes are going up across the Coast and Gines said in Biloxi, "we're getting real close to our pre-Katrina numbers in residential."

 

David Parker, Gulfport's development director, keeps a list of major projects on his cell phone: the recently completed $58 million Island View Casino expansion; the $60 million expansion of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport; Anchor Plaza's four hotels; Centennial Plaza's three phases and the expansion of the SportsPlex to increase sports tourism.

 

"I've three times that many I can't talk about yet," he said.

 

Laurie Toups, who started work as Gulfport's Main Street director in January, said she immediately got to work with the economic-development department.

 

"We stay so busy," she said. There is no magic formula for attracting business and developers. "They contact us, we contact them," she said.

 

The Hatten Building, whose first floor will house TrustMark Bank, is completely renovated and Toups said the man who bought the old Cadillac building is ready to start a big renovation with two floors of commercial topped by two floors of residential.

 

Other commercial buildings are available downtown, she said, "although they're going fast."

 

In D'Iberville, construction in nearing an end on the Interstate 10/110 intersection, providing a network of roads leading to the Academy Sports and other new businesses coming to Sangani Boulevard.

 

Signs of a stronger economy are seen across the Coast in casino revenue and sales tax for the cities and the highest prices for home sales since 2009—and development is following. Salvetti's moved back to downtown Ocean Springs and although Salmagundi's gift shop closed, Poppy's gift shop and art gallery quickly opened on Washington Street.

 

The waterfront and downtown Bay St. Louis are booming as businesses return, festivals draw people to the town on weekends and Coast Transit Authority launches its new Bay Trolley.

 

Lulu's on Main just expanded in the former Maggie Mae's, Purple Banana is in a new building, and Tish Williams, director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, said more restaurants are coming on the beach and one on Main Street.

 

The Ground Zero Hurricane Museum will reopen in Waveland in time for Katrina's 10th anniversary, and Williams said a new pier in Waveland and all the improvements at McLeod Park add to the area's ecotourism.

 

"There's a lot of development and building and more people coming back and rebuilding their second homes," she said.

 


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RAMCAT RHYTHM & BREWS 2015 TO FEATURE BEER PAIRING DINNERS
Downtown Beer Tasting to raise money for Main Street Greenwood
 

GREENWOOD, MISS. (July 7, 2015) – Summer may be in full swing, but Main Street Greenwood is already looking forward to early fall for its next downtown event, which will be a craft and homebrew beer tasting in historic, Ramcat Alley on Saturday, August 1, 2015 from 6 – 10 PM.
 
Ramcat Rhythm and Brews 2015 is set tickle your taste buds with samples of craft beers from Capital City Beverages and home brewed beers from throughout Mississippi. In addition to the beer event in Ramcat Alley, Ramcat Rhythm & Brews will feature two separate beer dinners at Serio’s and Giardina’s. Both dinners will feature chef selected courses paired with New Belgium craft beers.
 
Brantley Snipes, Executive Director of Main Street Greenwood said, “With craft growing in popularity, we want to showcase the potential of downtown Greenwood to be a part of this new and exciting industry. Downtown Greenwood is already the culinary capital of the Delta and home to our very own winery, so the next thing is a local brewery.”
 
Wade Evans, spokesman for Capital City said “Capital City Beverages distributes the finest craft beers in the industry. With the popularity of craft beer increasing, we think Ramcat Rhythm & Brews is an excellent way to introduce some of our featured craft brews.”
 
Admission will be $20.00 per person for the Ramcat Alley event. Tickets include admission, beer tokens, and a custom koozie. Beer dinner tickets will be $50 and will include admission into Ramcat Alley event. Additional craft brews will be available for $4.00. Music will start at 6:00 PM with the Tombigbees followed by the Kudzu Kings at 8:00 PM. Tickets for the Ramcat event are available at the gate or by going online to http://mainstreetgreenwood.ticketleap.com/ramcatrb2015/. Beer dinner tickets are available at both restaurants and by following the link.
 
All hombrewers are invited to participate at no cost. There will be homebrew tasting competition with the winner taking home a cash prize. Homebrewers must contact Main Street Greenwood for an application.
 
Money raised by the event will support Main Street Greenwood in its mission to preserve and promote downtown Greenwood. This will be a “great time, for an even better cause, raising awareness of our downtown’s potential in a growing industry “says Snipes.
 
For more information visit the Ramcat Rhythm & Brews Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/ramcatrhythmbrews.
 
Main Street Greenwood promotes and celebrates downtown Greenwood through the preservation of our historic resources and through projects, events, and activities that make downtown a viable place to live, work, and visit. For more information, visit www.mainstreetgreenwood.com.
 


Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival selected as Top 20 Event 

(Ocean Springs, MS) - The 37th Annual Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival has been selected as one of Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events.
 
This award winning, long standing arts festival hosted by the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau attracts nearly 400 vendors from around the continent that display everything from the finest pottery, paintings, jewelry, and sculptures to woodwork, metal work, and handmade tile pieces.
 
The annual festival makes a significant contribution to developing the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a regional arts destination. The event has grown to become known as the largest fine arts festival in the state attracting an attendance in excess of 120,000 to the local area.  In 2011, the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development in partnership with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, worked to determine the economic impact totaling $23 million to the local economy confirming that the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival serves both as a tool to bring in new revenue into the community, but also serves to enhance the culture of the region.
 
The Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Events publication receives extensive exposure in print media, web, and television and radio in the U.S. and Canada.  Over 1,600 newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, AAA’s and others receive the listings.  Top 20 Events are listed on the Southeast Tourism Society website at http://www.southeasttourism.org. ; Top 20 festivals are also listed on http://www.travelmediapressroom.com where travel writers explore for stories in relation to destinations, festivals and events.

For more information on this award winning event presented by Blue Moon, please contact the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce - Main Street – Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424 or visit http://www.peterandersonfestival.com.
 

 


MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET ANNOUNCES  2015 AWARD WINNERS
 
June 18, 2015 - JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 26th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson.
 
The presentation of awards was made by MMSA Executive Director Bob Wilson and 2015-2016 Board President Suzanne Smith.

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street managers, board members and volunteers and recognizes the best downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.
 
Click here for list of 2015 Award Recipients.
 
"This year's award winners reflect the commitment of many individuals and groups who champion what Main Street is all about - developing the heart of our communities, our historic downtowns, and enhancing quality of life for everyone," Wilson said.

During the awards meeting, a special tribute was made in memory of Chuck Ueltschey, MMSA Board Member and Past President. Ueltschey's wife, Regina, and son, Lee, were present at the awards meeting.

2014-2015 MMSA President Mark Loughman of Mississippi Power Company gave special remarks about Ueltschey who served on the MMSA board until his retirement from Mississippi Power Company's Economic Development Group.

"Mississippi lost an exceptional leader in community and economic development with the passing of Chuck Ueltschey," Loughman said. "He was a true advocate of the Main Street mission, and he played a pivotal role during his time on the board."

"I cannot think of anyone who had a bigger impact in as many communities around the state," he added.

The Annual Awards Luncheon recognizes the managers, board members, financial partners and volunteers who make Mississippi Main Street communities desirable places to be.
 
Since 1993, MMSA, a program of the Mississippi Development Authority, has generated nearly $4.8 billion in private and public investment (including more than $1.1 billion in public investment).

In 2014, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 303 net new businesses, 79 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,238 net new jobs, 93 façade rehabilitations and 127 upper floor housing units. More than 77,348 volunteer hours were recorded.

So far in 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities have generated 73 net new businesses, 29 business expansions to existing businesses, 786 net new jobs, 29 façade rehabilitations and 163 upper floor housing units. Over 13,702 volunteer hours have been reported.

MMSA has 51 designated Main Street Communities throughout the state as well as five Downtown Network Members and several Association Members.
 
MMSA is a member of the National Main Street Center, Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For the past 35 years, the Main Street Four Point Approach® has been used successfully in more than 2,000 communities, producing $61.7 billion in new public and private investment, creating more than 528,500 jobs and resulting in the rehabilitation of more than 251,000 buildings.  
 
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Click here for 2015 Award photos.

The Mississippi Main Street Association is a program of the National Main Street Center, Inc., and the Mississippi Development Authority with many allied partners and investors. Main Street is an economic development program based in historic preservation. The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to provide visionary leadership, guidance and counsel to Mississippi Main Street communities through organization, promotion, design and economic development to make our cities and towns better places to work, live and play.

For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com or call 601-944-0113.
 

 


Mississippi State University selects Ocean Springs Chamber to showcase tourism development to rural areas
 
(Ocean Springs, MS0 - MSU Extension Service is working on a toolkit for best management practices for community development and tourism development. The toolkit will have a video/ digital component so that the information will be more accessible to those that need it. MSU chose to spotlight Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau as an excellent example of how to both methodically create sustainable community development, and then to establish the community as a tourism destination. The Chamber’s examples of digital marketing will show those in rural areas how to use new technology to bring tourists to their communities on limited budgets.
 
The team from Mississippi State University visited with director Margaret Miller and public relations and events manager Cynthia Sutton and toured town in May.  The team had a chance to take part in the Taste of Ocean Springs Food & Wine Festival and learn about some of the social media efforts used through the festivals.
 
The toolkit will be made available to Main Street managers, city and county officials and others as examples of how to create a sustainable, successful community.
 
For more information on this project, contact the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424.

 


Senatobia recognized by 2015 Playful City USA program
241 communities to be recognized as part of program
 
Senatobia, Miss. (June 17, 2015) - The City of Senatobia is being honored with a 2015 Playful City USA designation for the fifth straight year.  The national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable.
 
Penny Hawks Frazier, City Alderman, EDF Board Member and Chair of Senatobia Main Street, said "This is our fifth year to be recognized, and it's an honor to be chosen again. Being a part of this group, having this designation, opens doors for grant opportunities and provides positive visibility for Senatobia."
 
Hopscotch sidewalks, structured recess programs, mandated neighborhood play spaces, city-wide play days and mobile recreation vehicles are all ways in which these communities are appealing to residents nationwide, and attracting and retaining residents in many types of neighborhoods.
 
"Playability is crucial to the success of our future communities, and we are proud of the work these cities and leaders are doing to provide a better quality of life for all residents, and especially families," says KaBOOM! President James Siegal. "Play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents. With these esteemed leaders, and our friends and partners across the country, we continue to prioritize play for all kids."
 
The City of Senatobia has recently adopted a plan to build a $5 million addition to its primary sports complex. Alan Callicott, Mayor of Senatobia, stated that "The renewed Playful City USA designation is validation for a historical commitment to recreational facilities in our town, particularly with the resurgence of corporate sponsorship and volunteerism for building playgrounds the last several years. What's even more exciting is the new commitment we've just made to create a first-class environment with our sports complex, which will be enjoyed for many years, both by our young people and by those we attract from other places."
 
To learn more about these cities, see the full list of the 241 communities named 2015 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org. We also encourage you to take part in the conversation on #playability with these thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook.

 


Laurel Main Street growing economically

By Vanessa Pacheco

WDAM

 

Chad Knight, owner of The Knight Butcher. Chad Knight, owner of The Knight Butcher.

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) -

Laurel Main Street is continuing to grow economically. The downtown area has attracted several entrepreneurs in the past month.

On Central Avenue, The Knight Butcher recently had its grand opening.

“We're bringing back the old school feel of a butcher shop, old time butcher shop, to where you come in and you get exactly what you would like cut,” said owner Chad Knight.

Chad and his wife, Terri, provide fresh meat, jerky and also a little sugar with their homemade fudge.

“It's been pretty awesome, pretty overwhelming, but you know I can't complain,” Knight said.

Also on Central Avenue is Laurel's first Welcome Center. The center made its home at the old First National Bank and also had its grand opening the same day as The Knight Butcher.

The Welcome Center provides visitors with brochures and information about the city and much more. Upstairs, there are a few more businesses that have decided to call downtown home.

Jones Toffee Co. has a kitchen there where it makes its own products. The company just launched its online store where all its toffees are sold. Also in the same building is Black Horn Productions.

“We do everything from photography to video, creative directing, programming (and) anything in the creative arts we can do,” said owner Brandon Davis.

Just like Knight, Davis also grew up in Laurel. Both moved back to their hometown and said they are happy to be part of the city's growth.

“I believe in Laurel, I believe in the community and the people love Laurel and I really, really wanted to help them get to the next level in those areas,” Davis said.

 


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