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New Officers elected to Miss. Main Street Board of Directors


JACKSON, Miss. – A new slate of executive officers has been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors. The new member and officers were elected at the recent annual awards meeting held in Jackson.

Ed Gardner of Entergy Mississippi in Jackson has been elected as the MMSA Board President for 2018-2019.
“The Main Street program is essential to economic development efforts in Mississippi,” said Ed Gardner, MMSA Board President. “It is one of the key quality of life drivers that attracts new business and industry. I am honored to lead the state organization as we seek to lead and grow the visibility of the more than 50 cities and towns we work in.”

As Director of Business and Economic Development for Entergy, Gardner is an experienced economic developer with more than 20 years at the regional level in both the public and private sectors. 
Before joining Entergy Mississippi in 2015, Gardner served as the economic development representative in Florida for PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, which is a generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in South Alabama. Gardner led the development of a two-year targeted aerospace marketing campaign that resulted in a significant increase in project activity. While in Florida, Gardner served as Chairman of Florida’s Great Northwest and the Chair for Enterprise Florida’s Stakeholder’s Council.

Prior to joining PowerSouth, Gardner worked as Vice President of Economic Development and Workforce at the Birmingham Business Alliance in Birmingham, Ala. In this position, Gardner was responsible for recruitment, workforce development and leading a strategic planning process for the seven-county Birmingham metro area.

Gardner has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master’s Degree from Auburn University in Public Administration.

He is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), as well as a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), with more than 13 years of local economic development experience.

The newly-elected MMSA executive officers are: President Ed Gardner, Director of Business and Economic Development, Entergy Mississippi in Jackson; President-Elect Kevin Stafford, Vice President of Neel-Schaffer, Inc. in Columbus; Treasurer Steven B. Dick, Economic Development Manager for Mississippi Power in Gulfport; and Past President Allison Beasley, Economic/Workforce Development Division Director, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District in Gulfport.

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Ed Gardner
Kevin Stafford
Steven Dick
Allison Beasley

As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, MMSA is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. MMSA partners with the Mississippi Development Authority and many private investors in the state. 

MMSA provides training and technical assistance based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality - to its Main Street communities. For more information, visit

Another luxury hotel to open in downtown Cleveland

Another luxury hotel to open in downtown Cleveland

Posted by: Jack Weatherly in  MBJ FEATUREReal Estate & ConstructionTourism July 24, 2018




The Cotton House. Is there better name for a luxury hotel in the Delta?


Tradition with a wink.


The $17.6 million, 95-room hotel will open early next year in downtown Cleveland, dead center in the region known for the richest soil and earthiest music in the world.


“It’ll be a very high-end product,” said Luke Chamblee, president of LRC2 Properties, whose portfolio contains The Graduate in Oxford and other properties.


Chamblee confirmed that the Cotton House at 223 Cotton Row will carry the Marriott Tribute brand, one of about 40 under that flag in the world.


“We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with the largest hotel reservation system in the world,” Chamblee said. “This says a lot about the community and the development.”


The Delta influences the  — whether it’s art work, wall coverings, fixtures, furnishing. He and the design team explored the Mississippi Delta for a week. We explored all different parts . . . from hole in the walls to major restaurants like Lusco’s,” Chamblee said in an interview.


“It’ll be good for the immediate market and the whole Delta.”


Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said the Cotton House is going to be “a game-changer” for downtown.


Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the hotel will “bring a feeling of place to downtown.”


On a practical note, the city cannot accommodate large groups when they come to town, having to send them to nearby towns for lodging, Thigpen said.


Chamblee’s Cotton House Hospitality LLC was approved by the Mississippi Development Authority, through  state law 57-6-1, which could mean roughly a 30 percent reimbursement over a 15-year period, if certain milestones are met.


Chamblee declined to say how much the investment was, but the  Mississippi Business Journal obtained though an Open Records Law request to the Mississippi Development Authority details about the project.


The city approved a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, by which tax revenues from the project  will be diverted to it for a limited time. The bond issue connected with it will yield $2 million toward financing the building of the hotel, according to records provided by the MDA.


Payroll will range from $1.2 million in the first year to $1.5 million in the 10th year, assuming 100 employees throughout that period.


Suresh and Dinesh Chawla, two brothers who own a chain of hotels in the Delta qualified for a rebate of roughly $6 million for their $20 million Scion hotel under construction in west Cleveland, the first of a luxury chain planned by the Trump Organization.


The special legislation benefits both Bolivar County, of which Cleveland is county seat, and Lauderdale County, where Meridian is located.


The Mississippi Grammy Museum, which opened in 2016, and the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, or MAX, are cited as the reasons for the law.


Ascent Hospitality Management of Coral Gables, Fla. Is resurrecting the historic Threefoot Building in Meridian in a $22 million project.


The Chawlas have got what appears to be a really good development as well, Chamblee said of the West End Scion going up in Cleveland that will be owned by the Chawlas and operated by the Trump Organization.


The Cotton House will employ more than 100, with the vast majority of those jobs being full-time, he said.


The the five-story hotel on Cotton Row will have a rooftop bar and will feature a restaurant operated by Cole Ellis, a James Beard Award-winning chef who is the owner and executive chef of the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland.


Also, the hotel will include Balance Fitness Studio and Delta Blue Jean Co.


Probity Constructon of Florence is the general contractor and the architect is the Renaissance Group of Lakeland, Tenn.


LRC2 Properties is also an investor in the Hotel Indigo, which opened last week in Hattiesburg.


The 100-room Indigo is located at 103 S. 30th Ave. near the main University of Southern Mississippi entrance, according to Chief Financial Officer Seth Miles. It will include a full-service restaurant and bar. It likewise was designed by the Renaissance Group.

Downtown Tupelo Selected for National “Refresh” Visit, Aug. 7-8


TUPELO, Miss. – Tupelo will participate in a Community Transformation Workshop with the assistance of a National Main Street Center consultant Aug. 7-8 in downtown Tupelo.  Tupelo was chosen through a competitive application process with the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA). The two-day workshop will help continue the advancement of the downtown area. 

The workshop provides services to assist the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association to define community-informed and market-driven strategies that can direct and strengthen its revitalization efforts. 

“The National Main Street Center selected Tupelo because Tupelo will be a model program for Mississippi," said Matt Wagner, Vice President of Revitalization Programs, National Main Street Center. "We believe Tupelo will be able to implement the recommendations and demonstrate a measurable impact to be a case study for the other Main Street communities in Mississippi. Downtown Tupelo’s community engagement and enthusiasm will make for a dynamic and successful program!” 
“Tupelo has demonstrated the effective implementation of the Main Street Four Point Approach, and this 'refreshed' Main Street Approach will help the community and Downtown Tupelo identify and build on its greatest economic strengths through targeted community development strategies while continuing to use the Four Point Approach," said Jeannie Waller Zieren, MMSA Director of Training and Marketing. “Our goal is for Downtown Tupelo to have a comprehensive plan to guide their work for the next five years.” 

The visit will involve community input by a pre-visit survey, research on market conditions, specific gaps, and key opportunities that can strengthen the downtown district.

For a workshop agenda and meeting locations, contact Reagan Pepper at or 662-841-6598. For more information on the Main Street program, visit Downtown Tupelo Main Street at, Mississippi Main Street Association at the National Main Street Center at

Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has been improving the quality of life in Mississippi for more than 30 years by developing Mississippi's downtowns. 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. Since 1993, MMSA has generated more than $5.2 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.3 billion in public investment), 36,996 net new jobs, 5,673 net new businesses, rehabilitated 3,298 buildings and added 2,921 downtown residential units. MMSA is a program of the National Main Street Center, with many public and private partners.

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 $71.35 billion in new public and private investment, generated 583,869 net new jobs and 131,974 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 267,800 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

Laurel named among the 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018

The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018

From Oregon Trail stops to Mister Rogers’ original neighborhood, these towns are worth seeing this year


(Photo by Pancho Valladolid/Discover Kodiak)

There’s something about small towns that ignite our imaginations. Maybe it’s the charming main streets lined with century-old structures, now filled with artisan shops and cozy family-owned breakfast eateries, or the meandering rivers that run through downtown centers and majestic mountains that rise in the not-too-far distance, offering access to a world of activity. Or perhaps it’s one-of-a-kind museums, attractions and festivities that are brimming with hometown pride. This year, we’re not only highlighting towns that embrace all these qualities, but those that are also celebrating a milestone anniversary, marking a major historic event, or unveiling a new museum or festival (there’s even one town on the list that’s been completely transformed by a television show) that make visiting in 2018 particularly special


As in the past, we’ve once again turned to geographical information company Esri to help sort through the country’s many small towns (those with a population under 20,000). From there, we compiled a list of 20 that combine historic elements with distinct cultural offerings, natural beauty and everything from the country’s oldest whitewater rafting festival to legendary pirate lore.


Our 2018 list includes the Pennsylvania town that gave us Mr. Fred Rogers, a seaside hamlet that sits at the doorstep of Northern California’s coastal redwoods—the tallest living trees on Earth—and an Idaho resort town that’s been recognized for its clear night skies. Get ready to explore!


Laurel, Mississippi (Population: 18,355)

It’s been just over a year since Erin and Ben Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town,” introduced their beloved Laurel, Mississippi, to the TV masses, and since then this Southern small town with big charm has taken off. Situated in southeast Mississippi’s Pine Belt, the former mill city and oil town is today known for its Oak-lined sidewalks, brick roadways and a splendid mix of innovative restaurants and specialty shops.


Laurel is home to A Street Car Named Desire’s fictional Blanche DuBois, as well as the Lindsey Eight-Wheeled Wagon, which native Mississippian John Lindsey manufactured at the town’s Lindsey Log Wagon Company during the turn-of-the-20th century (one is on display inside the Laurel Welcome Center). It’s also where you’ll find the Napiers’ own Laurel Mercantile, a shop that’s home to Scotsman Co., Ben’s own brand of hand-worked, reclaimed furniture and gentleman’s work apparel, as well as American-manufactured heirloom wares that often feature in the historic Laurel homes the couple restores.


At downtown’s Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, housed in a stunning, early 20th century Georgian Revival structure, works run the gamut from Hudson River School paintings to Japanese woodblock prints. The Laurel Little Theatre puts on community-led plays and musicals within a 1927 silent movie house.


Sip sour beers and “spontaneously fermented wild ales” at Slowboat Brewing Company, or dine on New Orleans-inspired gumbo at downtown’s signature Cafe la Fleur. For brown bag lunches of custom-cut meats paired with Knight Sugar Fudge, stop by Laurel’s Knight Butcher.


Each week through the end of June, experience Downtown Thursday, which combines an evening farmers market with a family-friendly outdoor movie night. Other community events range from October’s Loblolly heritage festival to the February Chili Cook-Off, where one type of ticket for the all-you-can-eat stew comes with a keepsake bowl made by a local potter.

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Back Stage Pass in Tupelo

Back Stage Pass in Tupelo

Mississippi Main Street Association
P.O. Box 55747 | Jackson, MS 39296
Phone: 601/944-0113
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District Offices:
P.O. Box 445 | Columbus, MS 39703 | 662- 364-0435
426 Northpointe Lake Dr. | Oxford, MS 38655 | 601-941-5409
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Mississippi Main Street is a program of the National Main Street
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