North Mississippi Herald
By Mickey Howley, Water Valley Main Street Association
Higher education is one of those crazy economic realities you might just figure out too late. It is the only situation when you pay good money and if you’re getting shortchanged in terms or service or product you don’t feel cheated or mad. You pay..or your parents paid… big bucks for that education and if per chance you did not apply yourself diligently and had easy assignments or generous grading, well you’re getting actually less than what you paid for and happy about it. I’m talking undergraduate education here. Maybe a little personal experience, too. I look at these Main Street conferences like graduate seminars, so I’m sitting up front, paying attention, taking notes because I want to remember, but I also don’t want to gyp myself.
So one of the many informative sessions 2 weeks ago at the National Main Streets big show in Atlanta was by Place Economics. They looked at how targeted businesses incentives can help in achieving results. I realize this not sexy stuff for most folks and incentives are not a cure all, but targeted incentives can certainly make difference. I’ll talk about what they suggested next column, but first here’s a refresher course what is already going on downtown in terms of business and building incentives.
There have been several incentives via the WVMSA. The one we have done the most and the one most Main Street associations use, are façade grants. Those are matching grants up to $500, so work must at least total $1,000, meaning minimum 1 to 1 matching ratio. The actual effect is greater, with 11 façade grants completed; the ratio is just shy of 10 private dollars to 1 grant dollar. So it has been a small, but highly productive incentive tool.
The WVMSA also has a low interest loan arrangement with Mechanics and Renasant Banks for up to $50k. The loan target is building improvement. Several people have made these loans, either for systems upgrades (think A/C) or part of a larger loan package.
The incentive that Place Economics folks Donovan Rypkema and Briana Paxton talked about is our Creative Economy Grant coming through the Mississippi Development Authority. It also is a minimum 1 to 1 matching grant limited to $2,500. The general purpose is to assist CE businesses to purchase durable equipment that will help them bump up their game a notch. Again like the façade grant, very specific and small, but hopefully with impact far greater than the dollars would suggest.
The biggest incentive currently for downtown Water Valley is the federal and state historic tax credits. There are 84 buildings eligible for these credits in the downtown district. That’s about 80% of the commercial buildings. The way the incentives work is you must first do the work of fixing a building and then you get a direct dollar for dollar credit on your taxes. It can be pretty serious money, with up to 45% of the cost of renovation. So with an average WV Main Street building rehabilitation costing $100k to $150k, that’s $45k or better in money back. Not chump change and really makes a difference. That’s what has been going on for downtown incentives.
JACKSON, Miss. -- The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) announces that the following Main Street programs in Mississippi have been designated as accredited National Main Street Programs for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center®, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Aberdeen Main Street, Amory Main Street, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber, Batesville Main Street Association, Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation, Biloxi Main Street, Booneville & Prentiss County Main Street Association, Canton Chamber of Commerce/Main Street, Carthage Main Street, Team Cleveland Main Street, Clinton Main Street, Columbus Main Street, Main Street Corinth, Main Street Crystal Springs, Main Street Greenville, Main Street Greenwood Inc., Gulfport Main Street, Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association, Hernando Main Street Chamber, Indianola Main Street, Inc., Kosciusko Main Street, Laurel Main Street, Louisville/Noxapater Main Street, Main Street Macon, Meridian Main Street, New Albany Main Street Association, Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Okolona Main Street, Olive Branch Old Towne Association, Pascagoula Main Street/City Hall, Pass Christian Main Street, Philadelphia Main Street, Picayune Main Street, Pontotoc County Main Street Chamber, Ripley Main Street Association, Senatobia Main Street, Small Town Mississippi, Greater Starkville Development Partnership, Tunica Main Street, Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, Vicksburg Main Street, Water Valley Main Street, West Point Main Street and Woodville Main Street.
Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to historic preservation and community revitalization through the Main Street Four Point Approach®.
“We congratulate this year’s nationally accredited Main Street programs for their outstanding accomplishment in meeting the National Main Street Center’s 10 Standards of Performance,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center.
“As the National Main Street Center celebrates its 35th Anniversary, it is also important to celebrate the achievements of the local Main Street programs across the country, some of which have been around since the beginning. These local programs work hard every day to make their communities great places to work, live, play and visit while still preserving their historic character.”
The Main Street organizations are evaluated annually 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. These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program’s application of the Main Street Four Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization.
Evaluation criteria determine 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.
"Receiving National Main Street accreditation is a prestigious designation and we congratulate each of these programs in Mississippi for this achievement," said Bob Wilson, MMSA Executive Director. "Main Street programs play a strategic role in stimulating economic development in our local communities, our state and the entire nation."
Accredited programs will be recognized on June 18 at the Mississippi Main Street Annual Awards Luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson.
Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated nearly $4.7 billion in private and public investment (which includes more than $1 billion in public investment).
In 2014, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 292 net new businesses, 76 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,173 net new jobs, 92 façade rehabilitations and 127 upper floor housing units. More than 65,117 volunteer hours were recorded.
Main Street programs in Mississippi leverage an average of $485 for every public/private dollar invested.
Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts. Working in more than 2,000 downtowns and urban neighborhoods over the last 35 years, the Main Street program has leveraged more than $61.7 billion in new public and private investment. Participating communities have created 528,557 net new jobs and 120,510 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 251,838 buildings, leveraging an average of $26.52 in new investment for every dollar spent on their Main Street district revitalization efforts.
|Bigger and better Ham Jam planned|
BY DUNCAN DENT
The Neshoba Democrat
The 14th annual event, sponsored by Main Street, is set for April 17 and 18 featuring arts and crafts, musical entertainment, a Memphis Barbecue Network-sanctioned barbecue contest, a Jesus Jam, and a "Hog Wild" fun run and walk.
There will also be food concessions and numerous children's activities.
First-time coordinator Jamie Griffis had observed Ham Jam happening in the community in the past but did not realize how big of an impact it had until she got involved last summer.
"They were needing someone to pick up the slack," Griffis said. "Going in I didn't know the impact it had on the community. My goal going in was to make improvements."
She admitted that it was "uncharted territory" for her, but that hasn't stopped her from diving in head first.
In the past, Ham Jam has attracted about 10,000 people, but Griffis hopes to double that number. Her specific goals are to improve fundraising and bring in more demonstrations.
"Ham Jam is Main Street's number one source of funds," she said. "It is directly related to everything we do. Without it, it would be impossible to do most of the things we do."
She wants to educate the community about all the good things Ham Jam offers in family entertainment as well as how it benefits the community through the funds raised each year.
"I have been trying to make people aware of the ongoing improvements that we have around town," Griffis said.
She always wants to educate people about such things as which streets will be blocked off during the festival.
She realizes that people get frustrated in the congested traffic around town.
"I was one of those people," she said.
Main Street Director Tim Moore said Griffis has been doing a great job with the festival and described working with her as a pleasure and a thrill.
"It's been great. Jamie is a big, big asset," Moore said.
Griffis said it has been fun talking to vendors and finding new arts and crafts demonstrators. A long-time goal for Ham Jam has been to get a chainsaw sculpture demonstration.
Back in December, Moore and Griffis teased a special demonstration made possible by the grant they won with their "Selected to Serve" award from the Mississippi Development Authority. They have now confirmed that Artistry in Wood, a demonstration that Moore said would be "new and exciting," will be creating detailed wooden sculptures with a chainsaw, live at Ham Jam this year.
We went to a festival out of town where we were able to meet Artistry in Wood and close the deal," Griffis said.
She was also in charge of securing music for the Friday night performance. She said the search was frustrating at first but once she learned that there was a wealth of talent in the area, she had plenty of options.
The bands Pinnishook and Blues Generation will perform on Friday.
"I really wanted to find someone that was 'local local' and they are all from around here," she said of band members.
Griffis is friends with members of Pinnishook and has been to their shows where she felt it was really something the community responded to.
Blues Generation is a group of local music students along with musician Chuck Ethridge, their instructor.
Altar'd and Muddy Water will perform for Ham Jam's Jesus Jam on Saturday.
Griffis said that she has appreciated how this event has gotten her involved in the community.
"I definitely want everyone to come and support the event as a whole," Griffis said. "I have been excited to see how Ham Jam has gotten me into the community."