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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.

Summer Letter from National Main Street President


Dear Members of the Main Street Network,

I hope this note finds you well – and that your summer is off to a great start!  This week, I wanted to provide you with a brief update on activities at the Center. July 1st marked our first anniversary as an independent non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and we have many accomplishments to celebrate. We developed a new strategic plan, moved our headquarters to more centrally located Chicago and reconfigured and made additions to our absolutely terrific staff, including Main Street veterans and those who are brand new to Main Street. I am also pleased to announce that the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit was the most highly attended conference in five years. From the opening plenary to the closing Big Bash, the conference was high energy with wonderful buzz and enthusiasm. One of my favorite moments had to be the announcement of this year’s terrific GAMSA winners - if you haven’t seen the videos yet, I encourage you to check them out.

Looking ahead to the coming year, we’ll be sharing more information on a new grant program from the Center and new webinars from our Main Street Innovation Lab. As we announced at the conference in Detroit, work is also underway to re-launch Certification Institute in the fall of 2015 and we look forward to sharing the dates later this summer. We are also bringing a renewed focus to fundraising for the Center with ambitious targets to increase support of the National Main Street Network. These efforts will help us to keep your membership rates low and allow us to continue to deliver a higher caliber of services, including more education and training, and new resources and tools for 21st Century downtowns. 

At the conference in Detroit I also mentioned the launch of one of the most important projects at the Center – a Refresh of the Main Street Four-Point Approach®. The Four-Point Approach has served the network extraordinarily well during the last nearly 35 years. We only need to look at the amazing reinvestment statistics to understand the power of this organizational framework: close to $60 billion has been invested on our Main Streets, creating 502,728 jobs and resulting in the rehabilitation of 246,158 buildings.

Why is the approach so successful? I think Donovan Rypkema explained it best in his conference keynote speech when he outlined how the Four Points Forces closely align with the four Forces of Value in real estate economics - Social, Economic, Political/Civic and Physical. Promotion utilizes the Social Force of value by changing perceptions about a district and bringing the community together; Economic Restructuring exercises the Economic Force of value by providing support for the business community; Organization develops the Political/Civic Force of value by helping to organize a group of people together around a common goal, and Design realizes the Physical Force of value by actively managing the fabric and appearance of downtown. In fact, as Rypkema noted, it is not a stretch to say that the Four Points of Main Street are the Forces of Value, used comprehensively to act as a change agent in our downtowns. If you haven’t already, please take the time to read his complete keynote address here or read a recap here.


As we approach our 35th anniversary in 2015, it is crucial to check in with our members to better understand your experience with National Main Street Center’s signature product – and understand how, and if, we can refine the approach to improve your experience and create greater impact in every Main Street across the country. We will also carefully examine whether the Four-Point Approach as it stands will enable us to continue to attract new communities while also retaining more mature and advanced Main Street programs. 

For example, I’ve heard many comments during my time with the Center that the term “Economic Restructuring” is confusing – and that perhaps different language might be needed. Further, we now understand that downtown housing development is absolutely crucial to effective economic development work downtown. The Four Point Refresh process will help all of us understand how important new elements of downtown revitalization – like downtown housing – are clearly embraced into the Economic Restructuring work. To take another example, the nature of Main Street’s Design work has evolved significantly in the last three decades. While in the 1980s and 90s we may have focused more on historic buildings, we now understand that Design encompasses not just our historic structures, but streetscapes and transportation issues. Our language must recognize and clearly support work on a truly comprehensive approach to community design and placemaking.

During the Center’s May 2014 Board meeting, NMSC Board Chair Barbara Sidway announced the formation of a task force to oversee the Four-Point Approach Refresh project. The task force is led by NMSC Board Member and Main Street veteran Mary Thompson – many of you may remember that Mary was the previous chair of the Next Main Street Task Force back in 2008. The Task Force will oversee the Four Point Refresh, which will include extensive engagement of our membership. To this end, we’ll be engaging in an extensive survey effort later this summer in which we’ll reach out to Main Street Directors, Coordinators, Allied Members, and others outside our network to ask about your experience with the Four-Point Approach. We’ll also be asking for your insights on Eight Principles and Ten Standards of Performance.

Look for more details on this survey from us soon – we encourage you to participate and make your views known.

Thanks again to all of you for helping make the last year such a success. We look forward to the year ahead as we continue to strive to provide you an even better member experience with more tools, resources and training opportunities to help you in the work you do every day.

Warm Regards,

Patrice Frey

Close to Home: Mississippi Staycation


Staying Close to Home: Mississippi Staycation

Asset Development Division/Mississippi Development Authority

Prepared by Daryl Neely

Because families look to travel before the summer ends and school starts, August is always the busiest month for car travel. And with the predicted stable gas prices for the remainder of the summer, now is the time to consider getting out and getting around Mississippi.

You might think spending more time in the area you already live in is not exactly an ideal way to spend vacation time but you could not be more wrong. Staying close to home has become so popular that the “staycation” has been coined just for this reason.

Even with an improving economy, most people are still watching their spending especially when it comes to planning a family vacation. Traveling close to home is one of the best ways to save money during vacation time, but vacationing locally does not have to be looked at as missing out on a great time.

One of the many highlights of working with the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) Asset Development Division is seeing how many assets and exciting things to do exist in our own Mississippi communities. There are plenty of ways for you to relax, enjoy and recharge without spending large amounts of money associated with travel.
Challenge yourself to find locations inside Mississippi such as healthy food options. Visit for information on farms and markets in the area you are visiting. It is a good way to buy local fresh food while traveling. Other culinary options are following the Gulf Coast Seafood Trail with more than 40 restaurants participating all along the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. Visit or visit the Mississippi Delta for a taste of the Hot Tamale Trail

Just keep in mind, that no matter where you live in Mississippi, our State has many fun places to visit. So stop by your local Main Street, Chamber of Commerce or Tourism office and gather pamphlets, magazines and books on featured attractions in your community. Be sure to check out the new VisitMississippi website at for other great ideas on staying close to home and enjoying a wonderful Mississippi Staycation.

Here is a short list of upcoming events around Mississippi. One of them is just a short drive away from you.

The Neshoba County Fair July 25 – August 1
It is called Mississippi's Giant House Party, and it is just that. Families gather in Neshoba County from across the country every summer for a week long family reunion and house party like no other.

The Jackson County Fair August 3 - 9
This fair provides visitors to Pascagoula the opportunity to enjoy livestock shows and a petting zoo for the kids. There are traditional carnival rides and even a midway. For a nice meal, there are plenty of food vendors, serving fair foods.

The Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival August 15 - 16
This premier music festival will feature some of the biggest names in rhythm and blues music on the third weekend in August of 2014. Rhythm & Blues enthusiasts from all over the world will gather on the rustic grounds of the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum to enjoy what festival promoters are calling a “Summer of Music” in Jackson. The old-town setting with a mix of grassy areas, winding streets and old buildings provide an authentic experience of the highways and juke joints where many great musicians got their start. This two-day music event offers over 30 music performances on five stages.

32nd Annual Biloxi Seafood Festival September 14 - 15
In its 32nd year, this huge festival and celebration features a wide variety of seafood dishes, arts and crafts, kid’s village, children's activities, inflatable slide, bungee obstacle, face painting, games, gumbo championship, continuous live entertainment throughout the weekend.

The Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival September 20, 2014
The festival showcases what is globally recognized as one of America’s most important musical forms. A major catalyst for American popular culture, it exists in both a folk context and as a product of the commercial music industry. The success of the Delta Blues and Heritage Festival has spurred the creation of festivals all over the Delta.

For more upcoming Mississippi events and festivals, go to

Ocean Springs Blue Moon Art Project Opens Applications to Mississippi Artists

Blue Moon

Blue Moon Art Project Opens Applications to Mississippi Artists

(Ocean Springs, MS) - Blue Moon is teaming up with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau to call on Mississippi artists to paint their interpretation of Blue Moon for a chance to win $2,000 and to showcase the art during the state's largest fine arts festival in November.

Everyone is familiar with the nation’s artfully crafted beer, Blue Moon, and following the concept that brewing is an art, art is present in all aspects of Blue Moon.  So, to bring that feeling to our state, Blue Moon has inspired the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival to call artists throughout Mississippi to paint their interpretation of Blue Moon into an artfully crafted painting and showcase them during the 35th Annual Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival which is presented by Blue Moon in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on November 1 and 2. 

"Art is not just about a sculpture or a painting," says Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, events and public relations manager for the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau.  "Art is about creativity and expressing individuality through such mediums as painting, singing, building, culinary cooking or even beer making.  We want to welcome those artists to team up with us and Blue Moon and express themselves through a painting celebrating all things artfully crafted and to show the nation our creative economy."

Artists residing in Mississippi and who are over the age of 21, may download this year's application at and by clicking on the "Blue Moon" logo.  Size of painting and canvas used is strictly enforced. All artwork and applications must be delivered to the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau by Friday, October 18 no later than 3 p.m. to be considered.  One winner will be chosen as the Blue Moon Art Project winner receiving $2,000 and will be the feature work for all things Blue Moon in the coming year's Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival.  Also, voters will pick the "People's Choice Award" winner during the two day festival in November. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize.



This year's project is brought by Blue Moon Brewing Company, F.E.B. Distributing Company and the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau.


For more information, visit or call the Ocean Springs Chamber at 228-875-4424.


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