Main Street Celebrates Second Anniversary
By Mickey Howley
There are a couple of anniversaries coming up next month. The first one is the two year official chartering of the Water Valley Main Street Association (August 30, 2007). It seems longer ago than that to me.
In that short time, WVMSA has put on two town festivals, started the Farmers Market, completed one grant while winning a state award in the process, started another grant, thrown some pep rallies, shown beaucoup downtown movies, published a downtown shopping guide, put a low interests loan program together, renovated our office, sponsored an architectural and marketing charrette, started an arts council, created an ad campaign, and plenty of other stuff, too.
All these accomplishments do not just happen. It takes effort, organization, desire and drive and yes, some money to get this all done. We are lucky as we have all that. Our volunteers are a hard working bunch, our committees have set goals and meet them, our members see the future of Water Valley and like what they see, and our sponsors pitch in.
We have financial support across the board from the city, the business sector, and private individuals. All is why Water Valley just last month met the criteria and received national accreditation as a Main Street Community. Nationally we are in the top 750 of over 1200 communities, and statewide in the top 37 of 56 Main Street communities in Mississippi. That is after less than two years in the program.
More satisfying than the national accreditation or the state-wide award are the tangible results one sees coming from the program. Buildings are being fixed. I don’t mean patch what’s broken and slap on a paint job. I mean steel, bricks, mortar, and concrete. Also, new wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling, windows and doors and such are being installed.
This lasting work improves the very foundation of our downtown structures, literally putting back strength in the bones of our commercial district. And new businesses and residences are and will go in those buildings as they return to full use. We are just now starting to see the real results of our labor.
The second anniversary is the 20th anniversary of the Mississippi Main Street Association state program as an arm of both the Economic Development Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Mississippi Development Authority. In those 20 years, MMSA has been responsible for 4,161 new businesses, 25,768 new jobs, 3,611 building improvements and $3.5 billion dollars (3,500 million) statewide in public and private investment.
Those are some great numbers; in fact, the Mississippi Development Authority says MMSA is the most cost effective job creation program they have. But this downtown re-vitalization also helps out the businesses that are already there. Anytime you can increase traffic on Main Street all merchants, new or established, benefit.
Congratulations to the just sworn in mayor and board of aldermen. Main Street looks forward to working with you to further enliven downtown.
The Farmers Market is now in full swing and high season. Produce is in and the market is open on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 6 as well as Saturday morning from 8 to 11.
Last week’s survey had a tie between shrimp pink and sky blue as favorite Duncan Street colors. See www.watervalleymainstreet.com for this week’s survey on what is your favorite summertime downtown activity.