Where You Are
Mississippi Main Street partners with Extension
Story and Photos by Michaela Parker
There’s nothing quite like a charming Main Street. Lined with local shops, restaurants, and businesses, these streets are essential to building vibrant communities.
Helping to preserve the treasure of lively downtowns is the Mississippi Main Street Association. The association offers economic vitality assistance by organizing, promoting, and offering design services to towns across the state. Downtowns that were once deteriorating have come back as the heart and soul of their communities with the help of Mississippi Main Street.
To recreate and redevelop vibrant Mississippi downtowns, the association turns to Dr. Rachael Carter, an instructor of community development, tourism, economics, and natural-resource policy for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. According to Mississippi Main Street administrators, Carter plays an instrumental part in the association’s vision.
“The information the Extension Service provides directly helps our downtowns thrive. They assist our Main Street Program in problem solving, meeting challenges, promoting economic growth, and building strong, vibrant downtowns.”
Miller is grateful for the leadership Extension offers to help rebuild and maintain Mississippi’s downtowns. Carter emphasizes that Extension’s focus on using proven strategies to grow communities makes Extension a natural partner for Mississippi Main Street.
“The Extension Service provides the research-based information that Main Street communities need to make positive changes,” Carter says. “The Main Street Association and the local Main Street directors serve as a catalyst and resource to get projects moving and help communities meet their goals. We give communities tools to help them understand potential opportunities and strategies to help them be successful.”
Mississippi Main Street and Extension took the first step toward downtown revitalization in Greenville by conducting an economic impact and market analysis report for the 2018 Hot Tamale Festival. The report identified the overall economic benefits the festival provides its community. Downtown leaders are using the analysis to pinpoint strengths they can expand upon.
Houston is preparing to implement its downtown revitalization. Mississippi Main Street and Extension representatives presented the Houston Board of Aldermen with development and improvement suggestions. The board recently approved a plan to reconstruct city sidewalks, and construction will begin soon.
Kosciusko regularly checks off projects suggested by Mississippi Main Street and Extension. So far, officials have added downtown bike lanes, outdoor exercise equipment, and murals, as well as city-wide branding.
The Ocean Springs Main Street Association has enjoyed the benefits of partnering with Mississippi Main Street and Extension. In 2013, after implementing numerous revitalization initiatives, Ocean Springs won the Great American Main Street Award for its efforts to build a lively downtown area. Town leaders plan to participate again to discover even more ways to attract visitors.