JACKSON, Miss. (June 23, 2016) -- The following Main Street communities in Mississippi have been designated as accredited Main Street America™ programs for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center:
Aberdeen, Amory, Baldwyn, Batesville, Belhaven, Biloxi, Booneville, Canton, Carthage, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Corinth, Crystal Springs, Greenville, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Holly Springs, Houston, Indianola, Kosciusko, Laurel, Louisville/Noxapater, Macon, Meridian, New Albany, Ocean Springs, Okolona, Olive Branch, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Philadelphia, Picayune, Pontotoc, Port Gibson, Ripley, Senatobia, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West Point and Woodville.
Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.
"Receiving National Main Street accreditation is a prestigious designation and we congratulate each of these programs in Mississippi for this achievement," said Stacy Pair, MMSA State Coordinator. "Main Street programs play a strategic role in making Mississippi more competitive by stimulating local, regional and statewide economic development."
“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents, and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social, and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”
Each Main Street organization’s performance is annually evaluated 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. Evaluation criteria determines 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.
Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated nearly $4.9 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.2 billion in public investment).
In 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 178 net new businesses, 49 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,695 net new jobs, 61 facade rehabilitations and 225 downtown residential units. More than 47,377 volunteer hours were recorded.
MMSA currently has 52 active Main Street cities throughout the state, five Downtown Network members, and numerous Association and Allied professional members.
The Mississippi Main Street Association is a program of the National Main Street Center, Inc., and the Mississippi Development Authority with many allied partners and investors. Main Street is an economic development program based in historic preservation. The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to provide visionary leadership, guidance and counsel to Mississippi Main Street communities through organization, promotion, design and economic development to make our cities and towns better places to work, live and play. For more information, visit http://www.msmainstreet.com
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $65.6 billion in new public and private investment, generated 556,960 net new jobs and 126,476 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 260,000 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Okolona: Coming Together” May 2016
By Jeannie Zieren
Mississippi Main Street Association
"Tell me a success story."
This is something I am asking every Main Street director when I visit his or her community. Why? Because anyone who is proud of their hometown has something good to talk about. And, let's admit, we all could use some positive news in our lives. Life is hard, and we certainly need to celebrate when times are good!
So, I found myself meeting with Perry Grubbs and Annie Gates, the Executive Director and Board President, respectively, of the Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce/Main Street. I was there to conduct a program evaluation, but what I left with was an exciting feeling that good things, some tangible, some intangible, were happening there.
When I drove onto Main Street, my first impression was: This street looks really nice--most of the buildings look fixed up and full, there are nice hanging flower baskets along Main Street and other beautiful landscape treatments, like the area around the roundabout with the statue. I also thought, it's a shame that as many cars pass by Okolona every day, that there is no signage to entice people to actually come in to town.
After talking with Perry and Annie, I soon discovered that getting traffic into Okolona has certainly been identified as a need, and there are plans in process to make these gateway signs and overall wayfinding happen. Continuing to attract new business and market existing business is a major goal for the Chamber/Main Street, along with installing these signs.
One business that stood out to me was Mugs on Main. This coffee shop looked contemporary and cool, a sure sign that things are happening in downtown Okolona. I found out Mugs on Main also serves up some good lunches and were awarded the Main Street Award from the Okolona Chamber/Main Street for this year.
After conveying my initial reactions to downtown, we got down to business.
We talked through the 10 criteria for state and national Main Street accreditation, and then we got to the interesting stuff. I asked Perry and Annie, "What is a recent success story here?"
Perry's eyes widened, and he leaned in, as if whispering a secret, "The Harlem Ambassadors."
Perry said that one thing this small town is known for is raising quality athletes. This town of 2,500 has had 10 professional athletes who have called it home. So, the interest in athletics here is obvious.
He and Annie took turns filling me in on the exciting event that took place in February of this year.
The Harlem Ambassadors, a professional touring basketball team from Chicago, was recruited by the Chamber/Main Street to visit Okolona, and specifically, Okolona's students. Lorene Moore, Chamber/Main Street board member and mother of Washington Redskins Kareem Moore gave great leadership to the project. Once the Board of Education approved the idea, things starting moving quickly.
"It was the talk of the town," Gates said.
The Chamber, Civitan Club, and the Okolona High School Band members sold tickets to the public. The local newspaper built the community's anticipation for the event. Finally, the day arrived.
"The Harlem Ambassadors put on a 'Stay in School, Stay off Drugs, and Don't Bully' program", Grubbs said. "And, the program was targeted to and heard by approximately 600 students."
That was just the day program. That night, the Harlem Ambassadors took on the 2002 Champion Okolona High School Basketball Team to a standing room only crowd.
I asked who won, and Perry told me with a wink, "Well, you know the Ambassadors always win."
"The Harlem Ambassadors came on a Tuesday night, and my kids were still talking about it at church the following Sunday morning," Gates said.
"It was a religious experience," Grubbs said, "And, it happened in Okolona!"
The Chamber/Main Street continues to make working with Okolona schools a priority. They created programs for the high school basketball season and gave them the opportunity to sell them for one dollar. All proceeds went back to the basketball program.
"We have got to bring people together in a positive way," Grubbs said. "We hope the city will come together in all respects."
The Chamber/Main Street continues to bring people together. Membership is at an all-time high of 124 members. Thirty-nine new businesses have started in the past five years. Only 12 of these have closed. For an economically-distressed town of 2,500, those results are pretty dramatic!
"The community is behind the Chamber/Main Street 100 percent," Gates said.
"We have to unite," Grubbs said. "And, that's happening!"
"See why we keep him around?" Gates stated with a smile. Then, Annie got serious. "What Okolona needs is to come together as one. Until we see that, we'll be a town divided. With a town this size, we all should have the same goal to bring Okolona together."
And that, my friends, is why I left Okolona excited. It felt a little bit like a church service. The kind where you are on your feet and clapping.
Photo: Mississippi Main Street Association
(From left: Perry Grubbs, Annie Gates and Jeannie Zieren)
Downtown Beer Tasting to raise money for Main Street Greenwood
GREENWOOD, MISS. (June, 2016) – Summer may have just started, but Main Street Greenwood is already looking forward to the live music, lights and craft brews at Ramcat Rhythm and Blues in Greenwood’s Ramcat Alley on Saturday, August 6, from 6-10 p.m.
The Third Annual Ramcat Rhythm and Brews is set to tickle your taste buds with samples of craft beers from Capital City Beverages, home brewed beers from throughout Mississippi and the Southeast and a selection of bites from area food trucks.
Admission will be $25.00 per person and includes three beer tokens, home brew samples and live music access. Cyclists riding in Bikes, Blues, and Bayous will receive $5 off General Admission tickets. This year will also welcome back the craft beer tasting event hosted by Giardina's, featuring five tastings with beer pairings for $50 per ticket.
Brewmaster Mason Meeks, who is on track to bring his brewery downtown, believes that "events such as Ramcat Rhythm & Brews will help introduce the Greenwood community to the growing craft beer industry."
Meeks will be heading up the homebrew competition, which will feature four judged categories and a people's choice category, with the winner taking home a custom beer stein. Hombrewers of all skill levels are invited to participate at no cost, but all interested must register by contacting Main Street Greenwood for an application.
"Ramcat has been a great addition to Greenwood's annual events. It has evolved into something locals look forward to each year. Having it on the same weekend as Bikes, Blues and Bayous is a great way to let visitors know about another fun attraction in town," says May McCarty, Marketing Manager at The Alluvian.
Money raised by the event will support Main Street Greenwood in its mission to preserve and promote downtown Greenwood.
For more information visit the Ramcat Rhythm & Brews Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/ramcatrhythmbrews Ticke.ts can be purchased online at: https://mainstreetgreenwood.ticketleap.com/ramcat-rhythm--brews-2016/
Main Street Greenwood promotes and celebrates downtown Greenwood through the preservation of our historic resources and through projects, events, and activities that make downtown a viable place to live, work, and visit. For more information, visit http://www.mainstreetgreenwood.com
By Ron Maxey of The Commercial Appeal
Two North Mississippi cities have earned the Playful City USA designation for efforts to make their communities more family-friendly.
Hernando in DeSoto County and Senatobia, in neighboring Tate County, are among the 257 communities nationwide to make the 2016 list. They're the only two Mid-South cities among this year's selections.
The annual designations are sponsored by KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring play and recreational activities to help children achieve balanced development. It's an honorary title that helps the cities receiving it promote their initiatives.
Being a Playful City is nothing new for Hernando and Senatobia — Hernando won the designation eight times before this year, and this is the sixth consecutive year for Senatobia.
"It's such an honor to be chosen again for the sixth time," Penny Hawks Frazier, a Tate County Economic Development Foundation board member, said of the designation. "This city supports recreation, and Playful City recognizes our efforts and enables us to enhance our offerings for the citizens of Senatobia."
Senatobia is building a $5 million addition to its primary sports complex, and Mayor Alan Callicott said the Playful City tag "validates our traditional commitment to recreational facilities in our town."
Callicott said the city has seen increased corporate sponsorships and voluntarism for building playgrounds in the past few years.
In Hernando, Mayor Chip Johnson said he considers the Playful City designation an affirmation of the improvements the city continues to make to become more livable for families.
"Being a Playful City means different things to different people, but I think it shows that we put an emphasis on livability issues," he said.
Johnson said in addition to venues where organized sports are held, the city has put an emphasis on parks for unstructured play time such as Conger and Lee's Summit parks. Those parks have playgrounds but don't host organized team sports or anything of that nature.
KaBOOM! Chief Executive Officer James Siegal applauded this year's designated cities for their investment in recreational activities for children.
"We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first," Siegal said. "Balanced and active play is crucial to the well-being of kids and the communities that they thrive in.
"By integrating play into cities, the leaders of Playful Cities USA are working to attract and retain the thousands of families that want homes in close proximity to safe places to play."
257 American communities recognized as part of 2016 Playful City USA program
Senatobia, Miss. (May 18, 2016) - The City of Senatobia is being honored with a 2016 Playful City USA designation for the sixth straight year. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable.
Penny Hawks Frazier, City Alderman, EDF Board Member and leader of the local Playful City USA efforts, said "It's such an honor to be chosen again for the sixth time. This city supports recreation, and Playful City recognizes our efforts and enables us to enhance our offerings for the citizens of Senatobia."
Communities across the country are creating innovative ways to bring back play and attract residents through family friendly activities. Interactive sidewalk art, designated play spaces on trails and the transformation of schoolyards into active play areas. These are just a few examples of how cities are becoming more playful.
"We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first," said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. "Balanced and active play is crucial to the well-being of kids and the communities that they thrive in. By integrating play into cities, the leaders of Playful Cities USA are working to attract and retain the thousands of families that want homes in close proximity to safe places to play."
The City of Senatobia is currently constructing a $5 million addition to its primary sports complex. Alan Callicott, Mayor of Senatobia, stated that "The renewed Playful City USA designation validates our traditional commitment to recreational facilities in our town, as we have seen with increased corporate sponsorship and volunteerism for building playgrounds the last few years. Our new commitment for a first-class sports complex will be enjoyed for decades, both by our youngsters and by those who visit from other communities."
To learn more about these cities, see the full list of the 257 communities named 2016 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit http://www.playfulcityusa.org We al.so encourage you to take part in the conversation on #playability with these thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook.
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