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Downtown Tunica Renaissance

Downtown Tunica Renaissance

The Tunica Times

Tunica’s downtown district is undergoing a rebirth of sorts, as three new businesses prepare to open within days and two other properties get a facelift.

Tunica Main Street director Lynn Ryals said this week that William and Melissa Pierce have opened CPR Computer Repairs in the former Computek location.

“Alex Obad will have the old Earnheart’s service station for full service gas and a small convenience store,” Ryals said. “Heather McGregor has started up Crooked Letter Art Gallery for photography, graphics, and art sales.”

Meanwhile, heavy renovation work is evident at the former Lane's building on the corner of Main Street and Fox Island Road.

And the first floor of the Masonic Lodge's building on Edwards now houses a group of bicycle enthusiasts who will use the space to repair and store their equipment.

"A new awning installed this week really dresses up the building," Ryals commented.

Upcoming events are a fall Rummage Sale downtown on Oct. 4; a fundraiser for St. Jude on Oct. 25; and a Nov. 15 Arts Council soiree at the Tunica Museum.

Download full article and photos.

Destination Downtown to be held Sept. 15-17 in Ocean Springs, 2013 Great American Main Street


Destination Downtown to be held Sept. 15-17 in Ocean Springs, 2013 Great American Main Street

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. -- Main Street directors, board members, volunteers and other downtown enthusiasts are invited to Ocean Springs, Miss. on Sept. 15-17 for a regional Main Street conference, presented by the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA).

The conference is held annually and rotates among Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

"Ocean Springs was selected to host Destination Downtown because of its successful and active Main Street program as well as its distinct selection as a Great American Main Street Award Winner in 2013," said Bob Wilson, MMSA Executive Director. "Only three Main Street communities in America received this prestigious honor, and we want our Main Street friends in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and beyond to experience this beautiful, revitalized coastal city."

"We know our conference participants will be refreshed and inspired in their downtown development efforts after visiting Ocean Springs and other strong Main Street cities on the Mississippi coast," Wilson said.

The three-day educational conference attracts more than 200 professionals in preservation-based, commercial district revitalization, including new and experienced downtown and neighborhood Main Street directors, board members, architects, planners, economic development professionals, public officials, volunteers, and consultants.

Attendees hail from communities of all sizes, from small rural towns to urban neighborhoods in large cities.

“What is ideal about Destination Downtown is that you get that hands-on experience and opportunity to find that one great idea for your community," says Margaret Miller, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. "It could happen in the classroom, from whom you sit next to, or when you explore beautiful Ocean Springs.”

“Smaller settings such as this can bring the bigger ideas and opportunities,” Miller added.

The conference kicks off with three tours for participants to choose from to get a good look, feel and taste of what is happening in downtown revitalization on the Mississippi coast.

Tours include the official sight-seeing tour of Ocean Springs and Biloxi, lunch on the grounds of the restored Charnley-Norwood house in Ocean Springs followed by a tour of the Ocean Springs-based Crooked Letter Brewery, and a tour to downtown Pascagoula, including Anchor Square, a retail development created from Mississippi Cottages that serves as a community gathering space and incubator for small businesses.

The Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau will sponsor a welcome reception on Monday evening at the Community Center next to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and the renowned museum will be open for conference participants.

The opening session will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday with a keynote address by Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center, Inc.

Frey has directed the National Main Street Center since it became a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2013. This will be Frey's first visit to Mississippi.

Educational sessions covering the Main Street Four Point Approach® will take place all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in downtown Ocean Springs.

Exhibitors will also be open on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, including: Artificial Ice Events, Dig Creative Solutions, ExhibitMasters, Hometown Productions, Inc., Mississippi Development Authority Asset Development and Tourism Divisions, Mississippi Power, Mississippi Prison Industries, Inc., Sanderson Farms Championship, Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District, Resource Entertainment Group, and Webz Advertising.

A downtown street party will be held for conference participants in Ocean Springs on Tuesday evening at Boots and Spurs with food catered by local restaurants and adult beverages sponsored by Blue Moon, Crooked Letter Brewery and Lazy Magnolia.

The conference will adjourn at noon on Wednesday after a closing session at 11 a.m. featuring Kennedy Smith, Principal of the CLUE Group, LLC and past director of the National Main Street Center.

This year's conference is sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority's Asset Development Division and Tourism Division along with the Mississippi Power Company.

Supporting sponsors include Sanderson Farms, Dig Creative Solutions, Webz Advertising, Hometown Productions, Inc., Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Biloxi Main Street/City of Biloxi, Pascagoula Main Street/City of Pascagoula, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, and Hancock Bank.
Registration is $150 and includes a tour, two days of educational sessions, welcome reception, downtown street party, two breakfasts and networking breaks. Check or credit card payment is accepted. Online registration will close Monday, Sept 8.
On site registration will open at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept 15 in the lobby of the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in downtown Ocean Springs.

Laurel entrepreneur seeking to build a vibrant downtown, one booth at a time

Laurel entrepreneur seeking to build a vibrant downtown, one booth at a time

Story by: Ethan Davis, LMS Intern

Imagine opening a business in a viable, expanding market with little to no risk or overhead.

That is Andrea Milham’s vision for local entrepreneurs: high return with low investment

Andrea is the incredibly successful owner of Laurel’s own Southern Antique Mall, and her dream is to build a vibrant downtown one business at a time, and Laurel Main Street wants to help her do it.

Humble beginnings & restoring the past

Andrea could not always claim to have a business that attracts visitors from across the southeast.

What began as an idea and a single $20 shelf in a building she adored became an entrepreneurial passion.

With her single shelf she saw an opportunity, not just for herself, but for so many others like her – to build something out of nothing, to test out their dreams without risking everything.

The first step towards Andrea’s dream was to purchase the Southern Antique mall and to restore and rebuild it into a magnificent jumping-off point for the dreams of others. She knew she needed to create a uniquely modern/historical appeal inspired by her love of the classic buildings in Downtown Laurel, where she lives and works.

Southern Antique Mall Before Facade Renovation

Like Andrea, Laurel Main Street believes that the restoration of our beautiful, historic downtown buildings should be a carefully guided process driven by a desire to restore their original luster while also appealing to modern cultural tastes.

Andrea and LMS looked to Erin Napier, a nationally renowned graphic artist, owner of Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence, Laurel native and LMS member, for help in guiding the design process and helping Andrea find the perfect graphical touches for new signage on both Central Ave and Magnolia St. Bill Holloway, an architect and former LMS vice president, gave careful advice, guidance and encouragement on many of the implemented improvements and restorations.

The Laurel Main Street Facade grant helped Andrea to pay for her building’s new signage and serves to motivate and encourage entrepreneurs just like her to help restore Downtown Laurel to its original luster and to push it forward into an even brighter future.

With the guiding hands of two of Laurel Main Street’s finest, the LMS Facade grant, and Andrea’s own personal tastes, passion and drive, her building came to life with a grand new facade and stunning new signage.

Restored and ready for growth

Southern Antique Mall After Facade Renovation

Now, both old and young come to a place that’s anything but a stuffy antique store. Gone is the dim lighting and grunge stereotypical of an old building. The newly-restored windows allow ample sunlight to shine on the beautiful wooden floors, and once-sealed doors now open onto Central Avenue.

Besides streamlining influxes of people, the new doors permit entrance through the street connected to Southern Antique’s actual physical address, and one of downtown Laurel’s busiest thoroughfares.

The artfully arranged booths are now showcased in what is now one of Downtown Laurel’s finest buildings. From artwork to antiques, one-of-a-kind treasures to long-awaited designer pieces, Southern Antique Mall has become the hub for tiny businesses in Downtown Laurel. But it doesn’t stop there!

southern-antique-laurel-main-street-facade Southern Antique Mall New Sign on Magnolia, St

Antiques, art and a new facade are just the beginning

The bigger picture is Andrea’s vision to create a vibrant, business-filled Downtown Laurel.

She has eliminated the largest obstacles to growth—overhead, investment, risk—and constructed a system of safe increase.

One low fee is all it takes.

One fee – no employees to manage, no utility bills, no property taxes, no fear of trying something new.

Andrea is inviting you to test your big idea, to build and create, to see where your passion takes you.

Then, just like Andrea, from shelf to booth to store. Maybe the next LMS Facade Grant will be yours – restoring your very own downtown treasure to it’s original luster, and presenting your now-proven idea to the world.


It’s happening now

Andrea’s dream isn’t some far-away, unachievable vision – it’s happening, right now. Soon, the downtown bookstore you’ve all been waiting for will be opening inside the Antique Mall, and your favorite Farmer’s Market baked goods are now offered weekly.

The Bake Shop by Julie ShowsLily Trest's Granola

Stop by every Thursday to pick up some of Julie Shows’ wonderful baked goods and some of Lily Trest’s delicious granola treats.

These are examples of two ideas being tested and futures being imagined. Without debt or risk, and with ample time to build awareness and interest in their products, these two businesses could find new homes in their very own buildings soon.

But first – time for their ideas to grow, and a beautifully restored place in which to do it.

Have an idea for a booth? Contact Andrea at 601.426.2322 or reach out to her on Facebook, or come visit her at the Southern Antique Mall on the corner of Central Ave. & Magnolia St., Downtown Laurel, Mississippi.

Do you, like Andrea, have bigger dreams for your downtown building? Click here to learn more about the LMS Facade Grant.

10 Best College Towns 2014: Hattiesburg

10 Best College Towns 2014

#10 Hattiesburg Mississippi
Home to the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg draws a mix of young people, families and retirees.
Home to the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg draws a mix of young people, families and retirees.
Photo: The University of Southern Mississippi

Quick Facts About Hattiesburg

Population: 46,607
Med. Age: 28
Med. Household Income: $28,598
Med. Home Price: $62,000
Average Work Commute: 13 MINUTES

Hattiesburg, Miss., residents know school is in full swing when they see hundreds of University of Southern Mississippi freshmen covered in bright yellow after participating in the annual tradition of painting a walkway into the football stadium. The students always seem to get more paint on themselves than they do on the floor. Much of Hattiesburg is highlighted with yellow and gold, illustrating the ties between the university and the city, home of the Golden Eagles. While Hattiesburg attracts young people in pursuit of an education, it offers families and retirees a bounty of cultural experiences and activities, affordable housing options, a diverse economy and walkable neighborhoods.

Community leaders are working to strengthen the bonds between Southern Miss and the downtown area, which is in the midst of a revitalization. Downtown, one of the largest, most intact historic districts in the Southeast, hosts Golden Eagle Welcome Week, as well as a beer fest and several events that draw younger crowds. More than 17 percent of residents living in Hattiesburg are between ages 25 and 34.

Southern Miss students volunteer an average of more than 40,000 hours each year and give money and materials to a wide array of local charities. The university plays a vital role in the city's economy, and more than 14 percent of all jobs in Hattiesburg are within the education sector. Students support local stores and restaurants.

Many retirees move to Hattiesburg, where a subtropical climate allows for year-round golf, biking, hiking and fishing. College students, who often have large amounts of leisure time, enjoy the same amenities, which include parks and walking trails like the recently opened Longleaf Trace, a 39-mile walking and biking trail that was once a railway. Students and residents also have many restaurants in Hattiesburg to choose from. Some of the most popular serve Creole classics and barbecue.

Home of: University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and William Carey University Crusaders
Student population: 17,000
Conference: Conference USA
Where to hang: Thirsty Hippo, which offers live music, trivia games and hosts a running/walking club
Where to eat: Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn, a somewhat “hidden” restaurant serving what many locals call the best ribs and pulled pork in the state. It helped Hattiesburg make our list of Best BBQ Cities.
Extra credit: The beach is less than two hours away.

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