Main Street Agenda Is Purely Economic
If you follow business news, and I mean news sources like the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Forbes, the early reports indicate sales for the holiday season are up. That’s a good sign, in general. The biggest jump is in online sales, depending on the source, a significant jump in volume, up 15 percent from last year. But just a moment please, it is those brick and mortar shops with sales in small businesses that are keeping this downtown going strong, so please consider shopping the Valley first for your gifts and seasonal needs.
This coming weekend on Friday night and during the day on Saturday, there will be a big retail push on Main Street. The Chamber of Commerce has been knocking out of the park in recent years with their “Christmas in the Valley” event on Friday night. Saturday is the annual parade and that will also be great time to be out and about downtown. The weather looks good, make plans and come enjoy a night and a day downtown.
Last week’s paper had a letter to the editor from former Ward 4 alderman Larry Bell. In the letter, he suggests that this Main Street Association has made Water Valley “turned completely around from the loving and sedate city we have known”.
I’m a little bit flabbergasted, as one of the founding board members and the current director of the WVMSA, as how to respond to that. Let me repeat what I’ve said multiple times at city council meetings during Mr. Bell’s eight-year tenure as an alderman. The Water Valley Main Street Association is a public–private partnership for the purpose of downtown economic development via historic preservation. This association sees the preservation, history, and re-habilitation of Water Valley’s center as essential to Water Valley’s economic future.
This association is supported and funded by four sources; its 180 members, local businesses, local institutions, and the City of Water Valley. In that last respect Mr. Bell, when he was an alderman, voted “Yes” 8 times to fund this association. I have thanked him and the past board for those votes and would like again to thank him for those eight years of support.
Let me address the benefits the City of Water Valley taxpayer has gotten in return for their investment in Main Street. In the last decade downtown has gained over 90 new jobs, 27 new businesses, 35 building renovated, and over 10 million dollars in private local money has been re-invested in downtown. Those economic numbers, based on our population, are the best for any small town in the state. That’s a ratio of over 40 private dollars invested for every one public dollar invested. That’s a return on investment better than other economic development efforts and far better than state and nationwide averages for industrial development.
Not included in those figures are several key economic improvements; the 90 paychecks for those jobs, a better than doubling the value of commercial real estate, a near doubling on historic residential real estate, a 30 percent increase in vehicular traffic on Main Street, a significant increase in local sales, and a significant increase in appraised property value. The last of which benefits our schools and helps our city operate.
As far as Mr. Bell’s suggestion in his letter of a “liberal climate”, there is no political agenda other than an economic one. One need only look at the past 8 presidents of the WVMSA; two bankers, four Main Street business owners, one educator, and one countywide elected official. Five of those native to the Valley, one a Mississippi native, and two originally from southern Georgia (people do get lost!). If there is any political climate change we seek, well, it is economic progress for all.
True loving of a place comes from taking care of it and making it a welcoming place for everyone to live, enjoy, and prosper. In that, I believe the WVMSA has operated with a sincere respect and love for this city and those who built it.