|Hernando Main Street/Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Fernandez orders a cheesecake from Kyle Mansell, a co-owner of City Hall Cheesecake, which has a location in Collierville, Tenn. Photo by Robert Long|
HERNANDO — Hoping to take a page out of the economic success story of neighboring Collierville, Hernando Main Street/Chamber of Commerce officials quickly got on the phone and booked the executive director of the Collierville Main Street program as the Hernando Chamber's featured speaker today at its quarterly luncheon.
The luncheon is slated for 11:30 a.m. today at the Gale Center on South Street in Hernando.
Hernando Main Street/Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Fernandez said she hopes Collierville Main Street Program Executive Director Laura Todd will share a few tips that enabled a town very similar in size and style to Hernando to be named "America's Best Main Street."
"It's a wonderful opportunity to learn from our neighbors," Fernandez said. "It's great to learn from your neighbors."
Collierville, with about 45,000 residents, is just a little larger than Hernando, which in the last U.S. federal Census, registered just under 15,000. The City of Collierville lies on the doorstep of Memphis which has a population of almost one million people.
Small towns offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, according to Fernandez.
Like Hernando, Collierville has a historic town square and, in fact, there are other striking similarities as well.
Both cities actually share a business, oddly enough, located in former city halls.
City Hall Cheesecake in Collierville and City Hall Cheesecake in Hernando are housed in former city halls in those respective cities.
Kyle Mansell is co-owner of City Hall Cheesecake in Hernando and worked for more than a year in the Collierville location.
"They both have that same old town feel," Mansell said as he served up fresh cheesecake to a customer. "The people are the same — very friendly. Hernando, like Collierville, is well kept. It's like the perfect size little town."
The similarities between Collierville and Hernando are also not lost on Fernandez.
"We both have beautiful squares and historical squares," Fernandez said. "We both have worked diligently to preserve the historic part of our squares. We both do a lot of events around the Square. It's a very central location and a big draw to the downtown area."
Like Todd, Fernandez has worked both as a community volunteer and then on paid staff of the DeSoto County Convention and Visitor's Bureau before coming to her Chamber post.
"Laura Todd has worked there for 10 years and she started out as a volunteer," Fernandez pointed out. "To me, that signifies that she puts her heart into what she does. I think that's important."
Starkville Main Street Association organizers concluded the current fiscal year Thursday by recognizing numerous businesses' commitment to the city's economy and setting its sights on increasing the area's ever-growing push to attract new tourists and sales tax collections.
SMSA, a sub-group of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, held its annual awards ceremony Thursday and recognized five local businesses' investments. The winners included Bank of Commerce for best re-investment over $10,000; Dan Camp's Cotton District Parthenon and Savery House for best new development; Stinky Feet Athletics for best new business; Aspen Bay for merchant of the year; and LA Green for best creative window display.
SMSA's Partner of the Year recipient, the Miss. Department of Transportation, has the biggest overall chance to change the face of Starkville's economy after its Miss. Highway 182 resurfacing project changed the face of one of the town's most important thoroughfares.
Announced in April 2013, the almost $2 million project completely overlaid the road's surface within city limits, developed landscape islands and improved sidewalk access. Workers also went about re-pouring numerous driveways connecting various parcels to the highly used road.
Highway 182 -- formerly U.S. Highway 82 -- served as a primary two-lane highway through the state for decades. A portion of the road was widened to three lanes within Starkville. Even though the U.S. Highway 82 bypass was constructed, the road is still heavily used by local traffic.
When the project was announced last term, city leaders touted its ability to spark business seeding and overall economic redevelopment. The previous administration attempted to facilitate growth in the area by creating a redevelopment district, but aldermen nixed the idea before July 2013's board changeover after speculating that the plan would drain tax dollars from the city's coffers.
"Improving the surface and infrastructure of Highway 182 helps revitalization efforts in the area but more importantly improves the appearance of a major corridor and gateway into our community," GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory said. "Revitalization of the Highway 182 corridor has already begun by private investors and business owners, but there's still much work to be done."
Partnership officials also touted numerous successes in the past year, including record tourism tax receipts, its second annual Starkville Restaurant Week and the growing Starkville Community Market, which is maintained, organized and advertised by the group.
Launched in 2013, Restaurant Week targets out-of-town residents who live within a 60-mile radius -- about an hour's drive -- and attempts to bring them to Starkville, show off the culinary scene and plant the seed for future trips.
Organizers added a charity competition, one in which voters help decide the recipient of cash donations, to help spur more local visits to Starkville's restaurants after Mississippi State University's spring break in March, a week where 2 percent food and beverage tax collections typically dip.
Restaurant Week organizers received nearly 10,500 votes for three charities -- one for each appetizer purchased in the seven-day window.
In addition to increased exposure and word-of-mouth advertising, the event gained more participants in part to large crowds in town for MSU's three-day baseball series against Vanderbilt University.
Starkville Community Market launched its first mid-week offering this year, helping visitors who cannot make it to the Saturday morning event find a light produce selection each Tuesday afternoon.
Jennifer Prather, the Partnership's market manager and special events coordinator, previously said SCM almost doubled its amount of vendors and maintained about $4,000 in business each week.
SCM received Mississippi Magazine's Best Farmers Market designation this summer. The Partnership was also recognized in the same publication for its wayfinding signage initiative.
"We're very fortunate of all of our partners here in Starkville, from Main Street and Russell Street all the way to Highway 182 and Highway 12," Gregory said. "It's because of their continued support and investment in Starkville that our city continues to grow as an economic and tourist destination in Mississippi."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
Master Plan Charrette Announced for Cleveland
September 23-25, 2014
Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and Team Cleveland Main Street to Host Master Plan Charrette for Cleveland
Cleveland – Community Design Solutions (CDS) has been hired by the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and Team Cleveland Main Street through grants from South Delta Planning and Development District and Mississippi Main Street to conduct a planning workshop or “charrette” in Cleveland from September 23- 25, 2014.
A charrette is an intensive design-oriented revitalization program open to the public. A charrette combines creative, intense work sessions with public input sessions over a three-day time period.
“The results of the charrette program have been pretty phenomenal,” said Randy Wilson, President of CDS. “All across America we have seen where they have created new businesses, jobs, private and public reinvestment, as well as landscaping and streetscaping enhancements, not to mention a newfound pride and enthusiasm in the community.”
The charrette process identifies tangible and intangible assets, presents design recommendations, preservation projects and promotional opportunities to the community and creates excitement for citizens in both the private and public sectors.
The ultimate goal for a charrette in Cleveland is to provide the community with on-going, flexible work plans that will guide the continued revitalization of Cleveland and stimulate further economic growth.
For the charrette, CDS will bring in a team of consultants from the following organizations.
Community Design Solutions
Randy Wilson established Community Design Solutions (CDS) as a community-based planning firm devoted to delivering creative, asset-based design services for community building. The firm specializes in charrette facilitation, photo re-rendering, Main Street services, and general design, planning and preservation services. Prior to forming CDS, Mr. Wilson served as the full-time architect for the South Carolina Main Street program. In 2008, Mr. Wilson became the Director of Design Services for the Mississippi Main Street Association. In this role he played an instrumental role in leading design and planning teams along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. To date he has facilitated over 200 design and planning charrettes nationwide.
Arnett Muldrow & Associates
Arnett Muldrow & Associates is an Urban Planning, Economic Development, and Historic Preservation firm based in Greenville, SC. The firm was created to help communities that want to rebuild their aging downtowns, reinvigorate their urban neighborhoods, and create economic development opportunities. Arnett Muldrow & Associates works very closely with their clients to define the planning issues for their communities. Whether their solutions focus on economic development strategies, retail market research, urban design, or historic preservation, they craft custom processes for each community built around three strategies: a commitment to stakeholder involvement, economic-development based solutions, and plans that get implemented. Tripp Muldrow, Ben Muldrow, and Tee Coker will represent the firm in Cleveland.
Mahan Rykiel Associates
Tom McGilloway of Mahan Rykiel, based in Baltimore, Maryland will develop the urban design and master plan for the project. Mahan Rykiel is a forty-person firm specializing in urban design and landscape architecture. Mahan Rykiel brings the particular talent of understanding the close correlation between the needs of the private sector investment with public improvements. Mahan Rykiel brings extensive experience with downtown planning, campus planning, and revitalization projects.
Kalback Planning & Design
Andy Kalback, based in Oakland, Maine, is a talented designer with over twenty years of professional experience. His diverse abilities include urban design, land planning, landscape architecture, illustration, and graphic communications. Andy has a specific expertise in quick and collaborative conceptual design, particularly within the strategic development of downtown and waterfront master plans and revitalization projects. In this capacity, he has extensive experience in working with and assisting downtowns in the creation and communication of their future vision through master plans, design charrettes, and developmental strategies.
For more information about the Master Planning Charrette, call Lisa Cooley at the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce at (662) 843-2712.
Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail Project Breaks Ground in Downtown Tupelo
[Tupelo, MS] – September 19, 2014 – Local development officials broke ground today 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.
“It has taken years of planning through the partnerships of the Downtown Main Street Association, City of Tupelo, Community Development Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Transportation to make this project possible,” said Downtown Main Street Association Director Debbie Brangenberg. “A revitalized setting will enhance the commerce, community and tourism experience of Main Street as well as promote economic development projects along the route.”
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.
“Tupelo is well known as an All-America City, but we’re also a first class city with first class citizens. From the Medical Center, to our schools, to Fairpark, Veterans Park and beyond, everything Tupelo does is first class and this project is nothing less,” said Ward Five Councilman Buddy Palmer.
“The new sidewalks, ramps, crosswalks, street lighting and other enhancements will not only provide a unified corridor connection between two of Tupelo’s greatest historic landmarks, but will also create a safer environment for people who work, live and shop in this area,” said Ward Four Councilwoman Nettie Davis.
The $11.5 million project is funded by the City of Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Program and a $2.3 million transportation enhancement grant awarded by the Mississippi Department of Transportation made available by the Federal Highway Administration.
For more information about the project visit tupelomainstreet.com.