WATER VALLEY – Water Valley is one of three cities across the state selected by the Mississippi Main Street Association for a legislative tour to show the benefit of Main Street programs. Water Valley Main Street Association (WVMSA) director Alyssa Benedict shared details of the upcoming Nov. 15 legislative tour during her monthly report to city officials last week.
“They have picked three places to come and Water Valley is one of them,” Benedict told city officials. “They will be here to specifically see what the Main Street Association has done and what we plan to work on in the future.”
Benedict added that developer Meagan Backes will speak to legislators during the tour, explaining the support that WVMSA has provided for Backes’ proposed townhouse development project on Calhoun Street.
Benedict’s monthly report to city officials during the city meeting on Sept. 6 came just a day shy of her one-year mark as director of WVMSA and included an overview of progress during that time.
“Starting from the beginning it has been a rebuilding year, not just for the Main Street Association but for Water Valley after the pandemic,” she noted.
Benedict shared that a year ago WVMSA had little membership.
“We thrive on volunteers and community supporters,” she told alderpersons.
During the last year the association has recruited 16 small business member-partnerships and two bronze member partnerships, two silver partnerships and two platinum partnerships. The larger partnerships range from $1,000 to $5,000-plus annual commitments to Main Street. Benedict added that both the financial and volunteer support enabled WMVSA to implement Main Street’s four-point approach – economic vitality, design, organization and promotion.
“It is always going to be the relentless small things that add up to the big things,” Benedict continued.
Her overview included WVMSA promotional events starting with the Wine Down hosted in March.
“We had great feedback from the community… people coming from Jackson to stay here for the event,” Benedict said. She noted also helped attract investors interested in projects in the city including the proposed townhouse development on Calhoun Street.
Benedict also encouraged city officials to focus on preparing the city-owned property on Wagner Street for development.
“We will work to get people who want to develop that property,” she said.
Next Benedict cited the successful Summer Sunset Series in the Pocket Park.
“We had an average of 150 people who attended those concerts, people enjoyed entertainment in downtown Water Valley,” Benedict reported.
Also falling under promotion, Benedict said that WVMSA has developed an on-line presence with a website.
“Through that website, people have come to Water Valley to find me and talk about projects,” Benedict continued.
Other highlights under the Main Street’s four-point approached shared by Benedict included:
• Completed two murals in the city, one above the WVMSA building and a second on the building opposite the Casey Jones Railroad Museum that will be officially unveiled during the Art Crawl. Both murals were funded by grants and are part of a renewed focus on public arts.
• Joined the Mississippi Hills Heritage Alliance and received a $7,500 grant from the organization for work at the Casey Jones Railroad Museum.
“I will meet with the Lions Club and Grant Thompson to finalize plans for the work,” Benedict told alderperons.
Benedict said the partnership with Mississippi Hills Heritage Alliance will provide future opportunities for projects such as Rails to Trails. She also said the organization will have their quarterly meeting in Water Valley on Dec. 13.
• Reported that the WVMSA board will finalize details for projects that will be funded from a $100,000 community revitalization grant. WVMSA was among 48 Mississippi communities receiving the legislative funding through the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA). Benedict added that WVMSA will collaborate with city officials on the projects, which must also be approved by MMSA.
“I really feel like Water Valley is getting bang for their buck,” Benedict added about the city’s annual $25,000 allocation to WVMSA. Benedict also noted that future consideration for increasing the city’s investment in the program would help sustain the level of work
Benedict noted that future consideration for additional city investment is important to the sustainability of the renewed effort underway for WVMSA.
“We don’t want to ask for donations from people constantly with fundraising and sponsorships. We want our requests to be appropriate,” she added about the balance of city support with business and individual support.