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Greenville Among Four Rural Communities Chosen to Receive $45,000 in Design Assistance

Four Rural Communities Chosen to Receive $45,000 in Design Assistance 

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Washington, DC— The Citizens' Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD), an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) managed by Project for Public Spaces, is pleased to announce four communities selected to host rural design workshops for the 2018 program year. The workshops will bring together local leaders, nonprofits, community organizations, and citizens with a team of rural planning and creative placemaking professionals to craft solutions to their communities’ design challenges.

Recommended by a review panel of rural experts, the four host communities are: Greenville, Mississippi; Las Vegas, New Mexico; Tuttle, North Dakota; and Valentine, Nebraska. CIRD awardees receive a $10,000 stipend to support the workshop and follow-up planning sessions. Each community also receives in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000, and additional support through web-based resources on and webinars by the Orton Family Foundation.

“It is exciting to witness the bold visions that these four rural communities have for their future,” said NEA Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Jen Hughes. “Design is an important tool to spark economic revitalization and bring new attention to recreational trails and local amenities. We’re thrilled to support the CIRD workshops and deliver design expertise that will ultimately impact the quality of life for rural residents.”


“This year’s technical assistance focus areas - Main Street Revitalization, Healthy Living by Design, and Multi-Modal Transportation - reflect key overlapping issues facing rural communities across the country and provide a great opportunity for sharing hands on practices and applicable lessons learned across multiple sectors” said Cynthia Nikitin, CIRD Program Director and Senior Vice President of Project for Public Spaces, Inc.


2018 CIRD Workshops
Greenville, MS (population 34,400) 
Host: Rural LISC 

Workshop Description:

Greenville, located in the Mississippi Delta, is a rural community of color and a hub for transportation, recreation, arts, culture, shopping, and dining for the region. The workshop will focus on plans to enliven Main Street via the adaptive reuse of vacant commercial storefronts and activation of public spaces that showcase the cultural heritage of the region. Main Street will be transformed into a destination for recreation, play, and public art; attracting people to live and visit the city center. Workshop partners include Main Street Greenville, Greater Greenville Housing, and the Washington County Economic Alliance. 


Las Vegas, NM (population 13,753)
Host: Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance 

Workshop Description:

The Gallinas River Park extends the length of Las Vegas and was at one time a major thoroughfare for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well a place to exercise and a natural draw for tourists. Now degraded and minimally used, the design challenge is to redevelop the park into a safe green space that connects local residents and sparks revitalization of the town. The workshop will focus on recommendations for a section of the trail to reflect the community’s unique cultural heritage, highlight natural resources, and drive environmental stewardship. Workshop partners include the City of Las Vegas, MainStreet de Las Vegas, and West Las Vegas School District.

Tuttle, ND (population 80) 
Host: Strengthen ND

Workshop Description:

Tuttle is developing plans for a new multi-use community space and economic engine, the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center. The workshop will develop design plans for the center featuring a small business and art space incubator, a commercial kitchen, event space, and a maker space for local artisans and crafters. The center has the potential to be a model for adaptive reuse, sparking a renaissance along Main Street. This project leverages community momentum in establishing a community-owned and volunteer-operated grocery store. Workshop partners include Tuttle Rural Innovation Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development – North Dakota, North Dakota Local Foods Development Alliance, and Tuttle Betterment Club.

Valentine, NE (population 2,803)
Host: Valentine Economic Development Board 

Workshop Description:

Main Street in the City of Valentine is slated for a major redesign and reconstruction beginning in 2021. The workshop will initiate the transformation of Main Street from a state highway and thruway into a well-designed street that encourages passersby to linger and attracts residents to support local businesses. The Valentine population is currently stable, but is located in a larger region that is experiencing chronic and severe depopulation. Valentine and Cherry County will put forth plans to stimulate long term economic development and the attraction of new residents by integrating design and creative placemaking into the Main Street revitalization. Workshop partners include the City of Valentine, Valentine Chamber of Commerce, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture and Community Vitality Initiative.


Program Contact: 

Cynthia Nikitin, CIRD Program Director, Project for Public Spaces,

Victoria Hutter, Assistant Director – Press, National Endowment for the Arts,


View the Press Release here. 



Since its inception in 1991, CIRD has convened 83 workshops in all regions of the country with results that range from strengthened local economies, enhanced rural character, the leveraging of cultural assets, and the design of recreational trails.

Read more about CIRD’s successful past workshops and explore the resource-rich website gathered from diverse organizations across the country. It is a place for citizens and practitioners alike to access information and inspiration to improve their own communities.

The Citizens' Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) is a design leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, Inc., and the Orton Family Foundation.



About the National Endowment for the Arts 

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.

About Project for Public Spaces, Inc.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states.  PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about Placemaking. Visit PPS at

Allstate Grant Awarded to Saltillo Main Street

Allstate Grant Awarded to Saltillo Main Street


Saltillo Main Street Association (SMSA)has been awarded an Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grant. The Paul Dunklee Allstate Insurance Agency will present funds to SMSA on Thursday, April 19 at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Allstate office located at 129 Town Creek Drive, Suite B, in Saltillo.


“Thank you to Saltillo’s local Allstate insurance agent and volunteer, Paul Dunklee, for being a positive force for change in our community,” said Lindsey Hines, SMSA Executive Director. “Paul has given histime and enabled Saltillo Main Street Association to receive an Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grant.”


Saltillo Main Street along with the City of Saltillo created the Reduce. Reuse. Recycle program after the Lee County Solid Waste department donated a recycling trailer to Saltillo in April 2017.  The recycling trailer sits in front of the Saltillo Allstate Insurance office, a centralized location in the city. 


“What began as a once a month opportunity for citizens to dispose of their recyclables has now become a permanent fixture for the community to use at their convenience,” Hines said. “Paul and his Allstate staff immediately jumped on board when they learned about the Reduce. Reuse. Recycle program and helped on the weekends when volunteers were greatly needed.”


The Allstate Foundation supports the causes that Allstate agency owners, financial specialists and employees care about most by providing Helping Hands Grants to nonprofits where they volunteer their time to bring out the good in their communities.


“Special thanks to Paul for applying for and helping Saltillo Main Street with the Reduce. Reuse. Recycle program!” Hines said. “The grant money will go towards enhancing the current recycle trailer along with other recycling efforts in Saltillo.”

Laurel, Mississippi gets national spotlight in Kansas City

Laurel, Mississippi gets national spotlight in Kansas City
Mickey Howley, North Mississippi Herald
Closing plenary sessions at conferences are usually not well attended. Especially if it is a big ole long conference like the National Main Street one. The conference this year had 1,600 Main Street folks from around the country meeting for three days in Kansas City. So, when I walked in a few minutes late to the general closing session, I figured I’d get an easy seat as all the closing sessions in the past were the usual 300 diehards. No easy seat this time. The room was jammed to the last row. I had to stand in the back like some wallflower. Why? Was it because there was a dynamic speaker or a brilliant new idea? Nope, none of that. The room was packed to back doors because everyone was listening to a Mississippi Main Street story of revival.
Laurel is one of those forgotten places in rural America, a place most people outside of Mississippi don’t know about. Or didn’t. Laurel’s story for the last decade has been one of making good and it is a town on the bounce back. For those of us here, in the Mississippi context of size, we might think Laurel is a decent size town. But at 18,000 people, in the big American picture, it’s a small place, in a medium size state, in the middle of the piney woods. In that respect, not unlike a thousand towns across the USA. 
A decade ago Laurel was like many small towns. Seemingly on the ropes. Losing much of its money to a larger town some 30 minutes away. Laurel’s great old homes were not worth much and many neglected, and with a downtown near empty, the place seemed bleak.  The town was not moving an inch forward, hardly a glimmer of hope, as the historic commercial district was virtually locked by the building owners still thinking their properties were worth a million. The nearby Interstate was just pulling the life from downtown. The train was still passing through, but not ever like it was. Young people were leaving there and not looking back. That was Laurel ten years ago, as a barely hanging on faded former glory of a place as there ever was.
That’s not the case now, in the last decade the Laurel Main Street program, with never say die director Judi Holifield, has completely flipped Laurel’s story. People are moving in. Young people are staying. Laurel now has a comeback downtown, with daytime business and night time life, and the surrounding residential area is making a solid return. The future looks bright. They’ve posted big economic numbers. Like 45 new businesses, 150 new jobs, 9.1 million dollars in private investment, and 28 downtown apartments. 
So, in Kansas City last week, all the people who are Main Street directors around the country were listening to Laurel’s young people tell of their success and how their story is told via “Home Town” on HGTV. The people in the room, my guess, were not so much interested in the TV show, but more the reason why early 30 somethings believed again in this Mississippi town. It was story worth standing up for.
For more information about Laurel's comeback story, visit

Nettleton Joins Mississippi Main Street Downtown Network; City hopes to increase their growth from t

Nettleton Joins Mississippi Main Street Downtown Network; City hopes to increase their growth from this recognition

NETTLETON, Miss. – Nettleton, Miss., is the newest member of the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA). 
On Monday, April 2, MMSA will designate the town of Nettleton as a Downtown Network Member of the statewide association. The designation will take place at City Hall at 5:30 p.m.
"Becoming a member of Mississippi Main Street will improve the quality of life for citizens and bring Nettleton up to where it has the potential to be," said Mayor Mem Riley, Mayor of Nettleton.

“The City of Nettleton was in need of revitalizing and growing,” said Dana Burcham, city clerk of Nettleton. “With joining Mississippi Main Street, we are hoping they will give us fresh ideas for new business growth as well as revitalizing current businesses."  
"We are so excited to be working with Nettleton," said Jan Miller, MMSA Director of Field Services. "There is a lot of enthusiasm for revitalizing the downtown, and we look forward to helping guide their efforts."

Nettleton is located on U.S. Hwy 45, approximately 20 miles south of its intersection with Interstate 22. According to the last census, Nettleton has 1,992 citizens, but the number is believed to be higher since the last census. Most of the brick masonry buildings downtown are original to the city, which was established in 1888.

For more information on Mississippi Main Street Association, please visit For more information on Nettleton, visit

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