By Jeremy Pittari
Downtowns in Mississippi can be economic development hotbeds consisting of local retailers offering what big box stores can’t.
Picayune Main Street has been working hard to promote the downtown area within this city, and during Thursday’s board of directors meeting they heard good things from Mark Loughman, who is the President of the Mississippi Main Street Board of Directors.
He said when local businesses set up shop they collectively provide more economic development than a large car manufacturing plant.
The aim of Main Street members throughout Mississippi is to create jobs, revitalize communities and preserve the historic buildings within those areas, Loughman said.
While big box stores provide convenience, and many times a lower price on products, their impersonal nature allows small businesses to fill the gap with friendly service and unique merchandise.
Within the state there are 51 Main Street organizations that are full members, including Picayune’s.
The number of empty buildings in Picayune’s downtown area is decreasing. Picayune Main Street Director Reba Beebe said there are currently eight vacant buildings in that area.
Loughman said downtown areas with residential units have the ability to sustain themselves, which can include apartments on the second floor of a business. He said there are about 32 residential units in downtown Picayune.
Picayune became a member of the Mississippi Main Street Association in 1996, and since that time 52 businesses have beencreated, Loughman said. Additionally 10 buildings have seen expansions and 291 jobs were created.
That economic impact includes $247,000 of public money has been invested in the downtown area, $3.6 million of private money has been invested and volunteers have invested 5,500 hours into the organization.
For more on Picayune Main Street visit their website at http://picayunemainstreet.com/.
The City of Vicksburg welcomes home H.C. Porter's Blues @ Home exhibition, open to the public November 21st through December 6th, 2014. H. C. Porter Gallery will feature 14 of the paintings, each paired with oral histories that give insight into the storied lives of blues legends.
15 other locations that will feature a Blues @ Home painting, are
Main Street Market, Michel's Record Shop, Walnut Hills, The Wine House, Ameristar Casino, Willingham's, Sassafras, The Attic Gallery, Peterson's Art and Antiques, Rouge Boutique and Salon, Rusty's Riverfront Grill , Lorelei Books, The Old Depot Museum, The Warren County Welcome Center and
The Vicksburg Visitors Information Center.
From living rooms to home studios, juke joints and a chicken coup, this exhibition by H.C. Porter goes beyond the music to give visitors a human experience, revealing the true grit and spirit of each blues legend. These 30 powerful portraits of the legendary faces of the blues are paired with oral histories that allow the legends to tell their personal journeys in their own words. This unforgettable immersion of music, art and storytelling, will give visitors a unique opportunity to not just hear the blues but to see the blues.
Participants have the opportunity to win a Vicksburg Blues Experience prize package if they get their Blues @ Home passport stamped by the most venues.
Passport contest rules: Passports can be picked up at all 16 Blues @ Home venues. Entrants must provide contact information upon turning in their passport to the Vicksburg Visitors Information Center, 52 Old Highway 27. No purchase is necessary to enter. Entrants with the most stamps collected at Blues @ Home venues will be entered to win the Vicksburg Blues Experience prize package. The Vicksburg Blues Experience prize package includes a stay at Ameristar Casino Hotel, dinner tickets to Ameristar Casino, $100 in downtown dollars and a $500 signed limited edition giclee print by H.C. Porter.
Pick up your passports today at any Blues @ Home participating venue!
North Mississippi Herald - Street Talk
By Mickey Howley, Water Valley Main Street Association
I have been thinking how it must have been at the “first” Thanksgiving, that first gathering at Plymouth, you know the one where the locals were native and brown and the newcomers were immigrants and pale. And also been thinking about the many political cartoons I’ve seen recently in which Native Americans see the ironic humor in the immigration debate. Can you imagine how that sounds to them? That debate and the native response to it made me think of Oklahoma. I lived there for seven years. Oklahoma has a crazy history, for much of the 19th century it was America’s ethnic dumping ground, it wasn’t yet Oklahoma or a state, statehood came very late in 1907, but an area called Indian Territory. The Unites States of America, starting in the 1830s and beginning with tribes in the South, systematically forced Native Americans from their homelands to live there. In not an especially polite manner, either. Okay, so there were a few weak treaties along the way, but the message was clear, leave your land or die. Remember this is the same time period when it was legal to own people and sell them for profit. We should be very thankful our morals and laws have changed. All in all some 30 plus tribes from all over …East Coast, Deep South, Upper Plains and Canadian border area, Texas and Mexican border areas and Far West… were all moved not too gently to Oklahoma…which of course already had several tribes native to the area. So today that means many Oklahomans are card carrying tribal members who certainly know the history of how they got there. And Thanksgiving is celebrated there just like everywhere else. We should be thankful they don’t have more of a grudge.
Most of us in Mississippi have forbearers who come across the Atlantic on a boat or in the hold of a boat. One would like to think that the time has come as to where our ancestors rode on the boat doesn’t matter anymore. I’d be very thankful if that was the case.
Last Thursday I met a man who rode a boat across the Pacific to become an American and a Mississippian. Hoover Lee is the retired mayor—a 4-term mayor--of Louise, Mississippi. He was born in 1933 in southern China and came to the state in 1934. His parents started the Lee Hong Company on Main Street, it is the town’s grocery store today and Hoover’s two sons run it. Hoover is still incredibly active; he has a business making “Hoover Sauce” which is a meat marinade that is a fusion blend of Chinese and Delta BBQ flavors. He ships gallons of it around the country and overseas and in the time I talked to him, folks from Starkville and Madison drove to Louise to pick some up. He has the recipe and isn’t telling anyone. Here’s the skinny; Louise is a better place because of Hoover and his family.
Here’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. That Main Street is a place where people no matter where they came from or how they got here can meet and work and socialize on equal footing. I’d like to think it is the place in this town and every town where folks are really equal and the only difference is everyone can –if they desire—make a positive difference.
The impact of an event like Small Business Saturday can’t be limited to a tally of a single day’s sales, or a list of great deals found on holiday gifts for loved ones. The value of an event like this represents something much bigger – a return to an appreciation and support of small business owners, and the impact this shift makes on the local economy.
According to the 2013 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insight Survey, over $5.7 billion was spent at independent retailers during last year’s event.
Consider this: When you spend $100 at a locally-owned small business, $68 stays in the local economy. Compare that to the same $100 spend at a large, chain-type business where only $43 remains locally. With the average American shopper likely to spend $684 on holiday gifts this year, shopping at independent businesses in your hometown has the potential to make a major impact on the health of the local economy.
But, it’s not just about the tax dollars or the economy, is it? The effect of an event like SBS is even bigger than that – it has a direct impact on the goals and dreams of local folks just like you. When you support Laurel’s small business owners, you’re telling them that you appreciate the work they are doing to further our city’s growth, and that you believe in them.
Dan Danner, the CEO of NFIB at American Express says:
“In an uncertain economy, America’s small businesses have remained a beacon — creating good jobs and supporting the families they employ and the communities around them. We are very pleased that so many Americans sought to give back by shopping small this Small Business Saturday. We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year round. Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”
And we aren’t alone! Support of Small Business Saturday has spread throughout the United States and is seeing consistent, measurable growth year after year.
“In just four years, the nation has adopted Small Business Saturday and made it part of the holiday shopping tradition,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “(Last year), we saw a continuation of this growing trend as communities around the country came together to celebrate local businesses and helped drive consumers to Shop Small on the day.”
As the official Neighborhood Champion for Laurel’s Small Business Saturday, Laurel Main Street has worked to bring together an incredible group of local retailers who are ready to welcome you during the November 29th event!
See below for a list of businesses who will open their doors so that you can #shopsmall on November 29!
From Sawmill Rd:
The Shoppes at Sawmill Marketplace -Peddlers’ Junktion, Quarter Century, Goodness Gracious
Down Central Ave & Commerce St.:
It’s What a Girl Wants
All Jazzed Up
Up Magnolia St. and Oak St.:
Join us November 29 in Downtown Laurel to get great deals, find some incredible local gifts, and enjoy a fun shopping experience, but, most importantly – to support the folks who are trying to make a difference for our city!