Monett Main Street is initiating a major outreach to the Hispanic business community with a meeting led by a national leader of the program.
Norma Miess, from the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., has agreed to come to Monett to speak to the Hispanic community. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at the grocery market at 13th Street and East Broadway.
Miess typically works as a trainer at state, regional and national meetings on the four-point approach used by the Main Street program.
"It's really unusual for her to come and meet in our community," said City Administrator Dennis Pyle.
Pyle and Monett Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzy McElmurry met Miess at a regional Main Street meeting and asked her about how to broaden the involvement with Monett's Hispanic community.
"Our goal is revitalization of the downtown," Pyle continued. "If we're going to be successful, we have to be able to reach more than 70 percent of the downtown. If Hispanic businesses represent 30 percent of downtown merchants, we can't claim Main Street is a success if we don't reach every one."
Miess is bilingual and offered to come to Monett to help engage the Hispanic community.
"She thought what we were trying to do was important enough for her to come," Pyle said.
Miess will spend an entire day in Monett on April 26. She and Jeanine Rann, with Missouri Main Street Connection, will provide training for the Monett Main Street Board. They will meet business owners in a walking tour and then facilitate a meeting with Hispanic leaders that evening.
Also participating in the effort is a recently organized collection of interested persons in the Hispanic community known as Grupo Hispano IMAGEN.
According to Luis Cecenas, coordinator of the Hispanic Initiative for Drury University in Monett, Grupo Hispano IMAGEN is a group of Hispanic leaders wanting to improve the local image of Hispanics. Adela Garcia, who has advocated more community involvement by Hispanics for several years, is the organization's president.
Cecenas said Grupo Hispano IMAGEN will meet on April 22 to formally elect leadership, then meet one Sunday a month at the Drury campus.
Group Hispano IMAGEN will help bring Hispanics together for the meeting with Miess, which will be conducted in Spanish. A flier in Spanish is being prepared and distributed by the chamber to encourage participation.
Pyle said the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative and the Main Street program have taken numerous outreach steps over the last year. As both programs begin to ramp up activity, the assistance in connecting with Hispanic Monettans becomes very timely.
"To get Norma here from Washington will be a great kick off," Pyle added.