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Main Street effort advances

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monett's Downtown Coordinator D.J. Miller will be in Jefferson City on Tuesday pursuing a grant to advance Monett's efforts at downtown renewal.

"One of the objectives when the city, the Monett Chamber of Commerce and the Monett Downtown Betterment Group partnered on the Main Street coordinator position was to work toward establishing a formal Main Street program here," said City Administrator Dennis Pyle.

For the second year, Missouri Main Street Connection is offering grants to help establish a Main Street program. Pyle said Monett did not apply last year. This year the organization is offering a $23,000 matching grant for the first time for revitalization training and mentoring.

In preparation for the workshop, Miller asked 15 downtown property for a building inventory to which he is adding photographs.

"They want to see what downtown has got," Miller said. "They want to see some renovated buildings, like Mocha Jo's, some used by lifelonger business operators, like Brownsberger's and Bruner's, and some that need a little work. Our ability to produce an inventory measures our interest in the program."

Monett is presently an affiliate in the Main Street program with access to design standards and information on how to do a Main Street undertaking. If Monett is accepted in Main Street's two-year program, Miller said the Main Street state organization will send a team to the city and help set up a 503(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.

Main Street staff will help organize the four committees at the core of their program, which include design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring.

According to Sharon Garrett, president of the Downtown Betterment Group, the city, Chamber and downtown merchants agreed to pursue the Main Street program when it seemed unlikely that Monett would be selected for the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative. Now that the city is about to benefit from DREAM, the possibility of gaining ground through both programs seemed worth pursuing.

"DREAM and Main Street have worked together in a lot of communities," Miller said. "Having both works better for the community. The Main Street people will tell us what works best for your town based on what they've seen. They may establish a different group or run what we do through Downtown Betterment. They try to coordinate with DREAM coming in."

Pyle and Miller will be attending a workshop open exclusively to DREAM cities on April 27 in Jefferson City. Among the topics planned for discussion is formation of a non-profit organization, organizational structure, organization finance and real estate finance.

"There should be a lot of information available," Pyle said. "This will be the second DREAM seminar we've attended up there. The last one was in November."

The community kick-off for the DREAM effort in Monett has tentatively been scheduled for May 4.

"Beginning next month, it's all going to start taking shape," Miller added.

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