Main Street Maps Out Goals,
Looks To City For Funding
By Alexe van Beuren
Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson, and Bob Barber, Director of Planning, will present a program during the June 5 meeting of the Water Valley Rotary Club. The topic will be what the Main Street Association has accomplished in Hernando over the past ten years.
The meeting will be at noon.
Hernando was the first DeSoto County community to join Main Street; a comprehensive redevelopment program designed to revitalize downtown areas. Olive Branch and Southaven are also members.
Mayor Bill Norris and the Water Valley Board of Aldermen are among the guests invited to attend the presentation.
“Mayor Johnson and Mr. Barber have first hand knowledge of how the Main Street program benefits a city,” said Jessie Gurner, the newly appointed executive director of Water Valley Main Street Association. “Since we will be asking our Mayor and Board of Alderman for City support we want them to know why it will be good for our town.”
But WVMSA isn’t asking for a blank check.
“We will ask to be included in the budget for a year,” said Gurner. “And we will bring a list of goals that we can accomplish during that year, so that we can be accountable.”
Those goals fall into the Main Street Association’s four-pronged approach towards rejuvenating downtowns: organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring.
In the category of organization, which stresses downtown partnerships, Gurner plans to institute a monthly newsletter and a website. As well as promoting Water Valley’s Main Street, the website would also link existing local sites such as the Chamber of Commerce, Water Valley schools, and the newspaper.
Under design, which deals with the appearance of downtown, WVMSA would provide information and services to interested business owners; for example, the Mississippi Main Street Association has a consultant who can analyze your building and draw up virtual sketches of a new look at no cost.
Promotion deals with drawing people downtown. Justin McGuirk, chairman of WVMSA’s promotion committee, has been working with County Extension Director Steve Cummings to institute a weekly downtown farmer’s market; based on the information he has gathered, McGuirk believes that the farmers’ market could begin as early as July.
Lastly, the Water Valley Main Street Association would offer seminars led by Mississippi Main Street experts that would deal with relevant issues to local business owners. Gurner reported that Mechanics Bank had already offered their community room towards this service.
“I’m sure we can and will do more,” said Gurner. “But these are concrete actions we can promise to deliver in the first year if the City chooses to support us.”
(Editor’s Note: The Water Valley Main Street Association is happy to report that donations will be tax-deductible. If interested in supporting a revitalization of downtown Water Valley, please send a donation to Water Valley Main Street Association, P.O. Box 104, Water Valley, MS 38965, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)