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Designed for greatness: how one downtown brand became a thriving business in Laurel

Designed for greatness: how one downtown brand became a thriving business

by

Laurel Main Street

 
Creative Computer Downtown Laurel, MS

Creative Computer Downtown Laurel, MS

In small towns we tend to focus on the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, but two Downtown Laurel entrepreneurs are shaking things up by focusing instead on breaking the mold of the traditional small town business.

Bo Watts and Jason Vanderslice, the minds behind Creative Computer, have built a thriving Information Technology and Web Design company right here in Downtown Laurel – and they’ve done it by throwing out convention and focusing instead on affecting people’s lives.

Erin Napier, creator of the world-renowned Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence and Laurel native, tells her story of working with the folks at Creative Computer in this short video:

Here at home, they keep the businesses of Laurel up and running with an intense dedication to superior customer service and proactive IT solutions.

Bo tells us that, “At Creative Computer, we believe in solving problems before they happen. We realized from the beginning that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ to this business. Each client is important to us, and providing them with customized services to actually better their business is our end goal. We exist to better our clients from whatever service we offer, whether it be IT solutions, web design, or custom APPS.”

What started so many years ago as a passion and hobby for two middle school friends, has turned into one of Downtown Laurel’s most involved small businesses and a hub for creativity and employee empowerment. Through these two simple principles this business has gone on to build products and solutions that reach people all around the world, while helping to ensure the success of all Downtown Laurel businesses through local involvement and community partnership.

How can you take the principles that have helped to grow Creative Computer and use them in your own business?

1. An intense focus on creativity and empowerment

“Your staff is your business”, Bo explained during our interview. “Focus on results rather than procedure, and empower your people rather than dictate to them.”

The talented team of designers, developers and IT professionals at Creative Computer was cultivated through the unique company culture created through these principles.

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“Our goal is to increasingly develop and expand Creative Computer. In doing this, not only will it provide us with more clientele, but it offers opportunities for new jobs for the right people,” Bo said.

When looking for new employees, Creative Computer seeks out those who can be trusted to take on a task and achieve results. Rather than focusing on rules and procedures, they choose instead to focus on broad directives and strategies – empowering their people to create products and solutions that solve real problems, rather than marking items off of a to-do list.

Bo tells us that it is much more important to find people with a willingness to learn and to work hard, rather than those with a pre-existing, polished skill-set.

By allowing his people to learn from their failures, to take risks and to try new ideas – Bo has created a team of “creative experts” who thrive in an environment built on innovation and empowerment.

2. A commitment to local growth

With the right people in place and an innovative selection of products and services, it seems that success would be assured. However, Bo and Jason know that by helping to build up their local business community they are ensured a stable environment to grow and the help of others along the way.

Bo says, “We chose to call downtown Laurel home because we saw its potential for greatness. A large percentage of our clientele are located downtown, which allows us to service them more promptly. Creative Computer is proud to partner with what is happening in our local community and contribute to the economic growth of downtown Laurel.”

As a LMS partner, Creative Computer contributes directly to our revitalization and restoration initiatives by providing web design, development and hosting services for http://laurelmainstreet.com Curre.ntly, an updated responsive design is underway, and we have been able to experience the unique brand of creative expertise that is such an important part of the CC philosophy.

Creative Computer employees and leadership can also be found participating in Downtown Laurel events and community programs, and are a valuable resource to the LMS Board of Directors and committees.

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“Being involved with our neighboring businesses and supporting one another in the revitalization and the restoration of Downtown Laurel is huge for us,” Bo says.

By partnering with LMS, Creative Computer is able to share their unique expertise and to contribute to the iniatiaves and projects that will ensure success for all Downtown Laurel businesses.

By focusing on creativity, innovation and local growth – they have built a business that serves as an example for all of those who are hoping to one day push the boundaries of small town business and to empower others to seek creative solutions of their own.

Written by Bethany Byrd


Mississippi cities finding their place for growth

 
Tupelo was an early state leader in this movement when it received a grant in 1999 to develop Fairpark on what was once the county fairgrounds and extend the connection between downtown and Elvis Presley's birthplace. Fair Park incorporates businesses, restaurants, entertainment, retail shops and hotels. This view is from the rooftop of the Park Heights Restaurant.
Tupelo was an early state leader in this movement when it received a grant in 1999 to develop Fairpark on what was once the county fairgrounds and extend the connection between downtown and Elvis Presley's birthplace. Fair Park incorporates businesses, restaurants, entertainment, retail shops and hotels. This view is from the rooftop of the Park Heights Restaurant.

Mississippi cities finding their place for growth

Posted by: Lynn Lofton

Mississippi Business Journal

Downtown Cleveland has been a destination location for shoppers for more than a half a century.

Downtown Cleveland has been a destination location for shoppers for more than a half a century.

By LYNN LOFTON 

Cleveland, Water Valley, Tupelo, Columbus, Bay St. Louis, Natchez, Vicksburg, Ocean Springs — what do these Mississippi cities have in common?

These are some of the municipalities that are good examples of the Main Street concept of placemaking. Public spaces in these towns have a real sense of place. They are designed to attract and serve people, improve quality of life and be economically competitive.

Main Street Mississippi Executive Director Bob Wilson recently made a presentation on placemaking and community revitalization at a national conference in Washington, D.C., and is a big cheerleader for this movement. “I was blown away by being included and to be there with all those decision makers,” he said. “It was a holistic approach to development.”

He was one of 40 leaders invited to participate, and credits the state’s success with this movement for the invitation. Funding agencies represented included the National Association of Realtors, the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. Funding and how to take advantage of best practices were among the topics discussed.

Converting old downtown buildings into loft apartments has help revitalized downtown Columbus, and the city has been given much credit for starting the dowtown residential movement in Mississippi.

Converting old downtown buildings into loft apartments has help revitalize downtown Columbus, and the city has been given much credit for starting the dowtown residential movement in Mississippi.

“As Mississippi professionals deal with preserving historic buildings and assets to make our communities better, we all have more pride in our public spaces, including the streets, green spaces and everything around,” Wilson said.

His definition of placemaking is: planning, design and management of public spaces by asking who’s using them, what could be fun to do there, how can we make it a cooler place to be, where will people sit, and are there opportunities for vendors and food trucks?

“This is happening on a large scale in the United States,” he said. “For instance, millennials decide where they want to be, then they go there and find a job or start a business. These kinds of places attract young professionals and creative and technology savvy people. With placemaking you create a place people want to be; it’s not the traditional economic development of creating jobs first.”

Ocean Springs has long been a leader in creating exciting public spaces where people want to be. “Our town is a destination as a result of our Main Street program and our recent recognition as a Great American Main Street,” said Margaret Miller, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. “It’s a destination to live, to work and to visit, giving everyone and every business the opportunity to thrive economically and enjoy a quality of life the world is looking for now and in the next generation.”

Wilson points out that 51 of the state’s 291 cities have Main Street programs. “We still have some quality of life deserts in the state. Others could benefit but may not have the capacity for a full-blown program. Still, they could do some things to create places people want to go,” he said. “It’s not just manufacturing jobs anymore; it’s tourism, shopping and where people want to invest and raise their children, where they feel safe and secure and have a good educational system.”

Since Hurricane Katrina, Ocean Springs has been a leader in creating spaces where people want to go..

Since Hurricane Katrina, Ocean Springs has been a leader in creating spaces where people want to go.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, charrettes or brainstorming, were held along the Coast to plan creative ways of rebuilding. “It was wildly successful and we have done it for other places in the state,” Wilson said. “We’re very excited about it.”

Tupelo was an early state leader in this movement when it received a grant to develop Fairpark and extend the connection between downtown and Elvis Presley’s birthplace. Fairpark incorporates businesses, restaurants, entertainment, retail shops and hotels.

“Cleveland has a lot going on too and has a lot of young people who love that community and want to stay there,” Wilson said. “Water Valley is another town that’s attracting lots of young people and university professors. People get together in these towns and think creatively.”

Wilson also praises Columbus for starting the downtown residential movement in Mississippi. “Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs, Natchez, Vicksburg and Hattiesburg are all doing a great job,” he said. “I think Gulfport is the sleeping giant on the Coast with what they’re doing with Fishbone Alley.”

On a national scale, Wilson cites Detroit as a good example of thinking outside the box with placemaking. “We can do all the things they’re doing, and we include those things in our quarterly training,” he said. “Placemaking is bipartisan; it’s about relationships and it’s everybody’s.”


Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail Construction Mobilizes

DTMS

Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail Construction Mobilizes


[Tupelo, MS] – May 19, 2015 – Local development officials broke ground last fall on an enhancement and revitalization project connecting Downtown Tupelo to East Tupelo and the Elvis Presley Birthplace. Additionally, the project will improve traffic flow and efficiency as well as pedestrian comfort and safety.


Construction crews have been working on Phase One- East Main Street, Veterans Boulevard and Reese Street; for the past seven months. As work continues in East Tupelo, the next phase of the project will begin soon.


Construction crews will begin work on Main Street between Green Street and Broadway Street Tuesday, May 26th. Traffic will be shifted to one side of the street and street parking will not be accessible. The public parking lot on the north side of Main Street will be accessible from Court Street.


Modifications and enhancements of the project include repaving and widening East Main Street to five lanes, synchronized traffic signal controls, street trees and green space, sidewalks with bricked pedestrian crosswalks, crossing signals and decorative street lighting, among others.

 
For more information, call 662-841-6598 and like the official Facebook page: Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail.
 


Tupelo Elvis Festival Nominated for 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award

Elvis Fest

Tupelo Elvis Festival Nominated for 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award
 

The Tupelo Elvis Festival has been named a nominee in the latest 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest. An expert panel selected the Tupelo Elvis Festival as one of the 20 contenders for the Best Southern Event category, which just launched. The contest, which is being promoted by USA TODAY, gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice at http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-southern-event/ A per.son can vote once a day for the run of the contest.


Voting ends Monday, May 25, 2015 at 11:59am EDT and the winners will be announced on 10Best on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 11:59am EDT, then later on USA TODAY.


The Tupelo Elvis Festival was voted by fans around the world as the Best Elvis Tribute Event in the World in 2014 through the Elvis Tribute Industry Awards. The festival has also been designated as a Top 20 Event in the Southeast winner by the Southeast Tourism Society and selected as a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.


Please consider voting for the Tupelo Elvis Festival as the Best Southern Event category of the 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.


The Tupelo Elvis Festival is sponsored by the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mississippi Development Authority.
 

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association (DTMSA) is a membership-based organization focused on sustaining and enhancing the downtown experience.

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Ocean Springs, a town with a reputation as an “arts community” has several art galleries and was hometown to the late Walter Inglis Anderson, a nationally renowned painter and muralist.

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