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Monday, May 2, 2016

Main Street program kicks off

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jeanine Rann, Missouri Main Street Connection communications development coordinator, met with the Monett Main Street Board prior to the public meeting on Thursday. From left are: Monett City Administrator Dennis Pyle, Rann, Kathi Skaggs, Sharon Garrett and Keith McCracken. [Photos by Suzy McElmurry]
The Monett Main Street program took organizational steps last week by forming committees and starting budget plans. Twenty-six business owners, downtown stakeholders, city leaders, Monett Chamber of Commerce representatives and community members participated.

Jeanine Rann, community development coordinator for Missouri Main Street Connection, the state umbrella organization for the national Main Street program, coordinated the session, which was held at the Monett chamber's community room. Prior to the meeting, Rann sat down with the Monett Main Street Board that includes representatives from the city, the chamber and the Downtown Betterment Group.

Unlike many cities starting the Main Street process, the Monett effort already represents a partnership between the city and the chamber. City Administrator Dennis Pyle and Chamber Executive Director Suzy McElmurry reviewed the progress made to date.

The Drury University Vision 2030 effort identified the need for better signage for downtown. Gateways, leading people to downtown Monett, are targeted for Broadway and Central and on Kyler. Pyle said the well house on the triangle at Central and Second Street, which was painted recently by volunteers with the First United Methodist Church, is suitable for signage directing traffic to downtown.

A newsletter, Broadway Beat, has been published in September and in January. So far the newsletter has been delivered by hand to downtown merchants. Pyle said a link to the promotional tool will be placed on the city's web site.

McElmurry discussed how the chamber used its Festival of Lights this year to help attract traffic into the downtown area. Lighting displays were placed on Broadway for the first time, in addition to lights wrapped around trees and utility poles. Signage at Dairy Street and Waldensian Road directed motorists to view more lights downtown.

Main Street Connection has awarded Monett Main Street a two-year grant. The effort will focus on training Monettans in the methods and strategies of the national organization.

Committees organized

Rann started the public meeting with a 30-minute presentation on Main Street's philosophy and four-point approach. The group broke into committees formed around each of the points and spent an hour developing the top three priorities for each.

Pyle was selected as chairman of the organization committee. The group will focus on recruiting, retaining volunteers, establishing partnerships, communicating with the public and fundraising.

Kathi Skaggs, business owner at Blessings Books and Gifts, was chosen as chairperson for the design committee. The group will concentrate on building improvements, design education, public spaces and enforcement.

Sharon Garrett, president of the Downtown Betterment Group and business owner at The Trunk, was chosen to head the promotion committee. The group will tackle creating a marketing and retail strategy, shaping a brand or logo and organizing special events and regular activities.

Keith McCracken, realtor and chamber board member, was picked as chairman of the economic restructuring committee. The group will focus on market information, business retention and expansion, business recruitment and property development.

The fiscal year for Monett Main Street will begin on April 1 to coincide with the city's fiscal year, Pyle said. Committees were tasked with developing a work plan that specifies tasks, completion dates, costs and work assignments.

The work plans and proposed budgets will be submitted to the Monett Main Street Board by March 1. Committees were asked to meet as often as necessary to complete their strategies.

The Monett Main Street Board will review the plans and budgets and propose changes if necessary. Any revisions will be sent back to the committees by March 15, so that a budget can be finalized by April 1.

Organizational issues

One of the challenges facing the Main Street effort is how to separate it from other existing entities.

According to Pyle, the board will have to decide if Monett Main Street should establish a separate 501 (c)3 not-for-profit corporation. The Downtown Betterment Group has 501(c)3 status and has received donations specifically for the Main Street effort.

Rann said Monett Main Street needs to develop a self-sustaining revenue stream. At the present time, the city is providing 80 percent of the funds at a rate of $20,000 a year.

Rann also stressed that the work of Monett Main Street must be comprehensive. Ongoing initiatives are important. Completing small projects will contribute to the big picture. She urged the group to pick achieveable goals and to meet them.

The Main Street approach has worked in other communities, Rann said. Main Street succeeds as a self-help effort in a public-private partnership.

Pyle said the two-hour public meeting was very productive and a good start for the year.

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