By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – About $675,000 dollars has been invested in the City’s downtown since the Water Valley Main Street Association has been active.
And another $210,000 of investment is planned during the next year, Bill Taylor, President of the WVMSA said during the group’s annual general membership meeting Thursday, Oct. 21.
Taylor, who serves on the economic restructuring committee, spoke of the economic impact of the Main Street Association. “Since we’ve been active, 30,300 sq. ft. of Main Street space has been renovated or is the process of being renovated.”
He said that 9,500 sq. ft of that is upper floor development that has not been used in the past. And, 10,800 sq. ft. of the ground floor renovation was previously empty. “The total reinvestment on Main Street has been about $675,000 dollars,” he continued. “And there are 14 new full or part-time jobs in those buildings.”
“How much of that would have happened without Main Street I don’t know. But, I like to think that Main Street had at least some part in it.”
“In the next year, if everything goes according to plan, there’s about another $210,000 of investment planned on Main Street. Four new businesses are going to open up that are going to occupy about 7000 sq. ft. and produce about ten new jobs.
Taylor said that the group had also been the moving force behind a number of other projects which have drawn a lot of attention to downtown. “Y’all have been involved in the pep rallys, the movies on main; you’ve seen the annual shopping guide; bought produce at the farmers market; you’ve read Mickey’s Street Talk column in the paper every week.”
“We have a monthly ad in the Oxford Home Guide touting Water Valley. We have a Facebook and Twitter presence. The Driving the Valley tour is ready to go. The façade grants…we got that program up and going.”
He also praised the Art Crawl and the summer Art Camp, both projects of the Arts Council.
“You’ve probably seen the plans for the Streetscape project,” he added. “We’re chomping at the bit to get going on this.”
Taylor said that some small parts of the project would be done in the near future.
Mickey Howley, Director of the WVMSA, followed Taylor and talked about the first person to get a façade grant, Betty Ruth Swear-engen. He described her as a member of the town’s establishment; an alderman and a civic group leader.
Howley said that when Swearengen asked for the grant, he knew the young organization was beginning to make some headway in Water Valley. “To have her wholeheartedly on our side really meant a lot.”
He told the story behind the renovation of her downtown building located next door to the WVMSA office and her death before the project was completed. “It’s a shame that she’s not here to see it.”
Howley and Taylor presented the group’s yearly awards including Volunteer of the Year that went to Bill Warren, described as a “hard worker” who has been involved in almost every project in some way.
Mayor Larry Hart spoke earlier and praised the work of the WVMSA. “We appreciate you and look forward to the city being a part of what you have going. Any way we can help, we are ready.”