Monett Main Street making major strides

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Major advances in the Monett Main Street program have taken place since January. Work plans have been defined in advance of this week's board meeting on Thursday.

Monett Main Street is a two-year partnership between the Monett Downtown Betterment Group, the Monett Chamber of Commerce and the City of Monett. The original board included representatives from each group.

According to the organization's guidelines, "The vision of Monett Main Street is a thriving downtown that offers a variety of business, educational and recreational services with opportunities for entertainment that entices people to live and work here."

The mission of Monett Main Street is "to promote downtown Monett as the activity center for the community that encourages development of business and education, staging of special events that highlight the area's culture and history, and the development of parks so that downtown becomes a social gathering place."

Tasks for the organization were divided into committees that met several times during February. Volunteers leading the committees are: Steve Wise, organization; Janell Patton, promotion; Bob Berger, design; and Ann Saunders, economic restructuring.

Committees targeted March 1 to complete work plans and budgets.

"The whole goal of Main Street is a comprehensive structural approach that focuses on incremental change," said City Administrator Dennis Pyle. "We're building on small successes. Then the big picture takes care of itself.

"We've had some concepts in the past that may be really great but normally requires a lot of time, effort and money," Pyle continued. "The result was they fell by the wayside. With Main Street, we've set more limited goals within limited resources of 'This is what we can do now.' They're realistic goals that can be met in one year's time, not things that we'll be working on for the next five years."

The organization committee selected the following goals:

* Adopt articles or incorporation for Monett Main Street Inc., including bylaws and an application for 501(c)3 not-for-profit status.

* Publish a quarterly newsletter promoting Monett Main Street.

* Expanding Main Street's revenue base beyond contributions from the chamber and the city to make the program sustainable for future growth.

The promotion committee selected the following goals:

* Develop a downtown Monett brand.

* Develop a website and promotional material to demonstrate the value of downtown.

* Raise awareness of the unique shopping, dining and events downtown.

The design committee selected four goals:

* Design, purchase and place wayfinding signs that direct visitors to downtown at key traffic locations using a logo and branding strategy developed by the promotions committee.

* Establish a matching grant program for fašade improvements of up to $1,500 each for exterior building repairs or improvements that meet specific guidelines.

* Work with the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative project team to develop design guidelines for downtown.

* Pursue donation of dilapidated properties to Main Street's not-for-profit corporation or purchase properties through a private investment group.

The economic restructuring committee selected the following goals:

* Cleaning up targeted vacant storefronts.

* Establish a prospective business consultant team and supporting materials.

* Recruit new businesses to occupy vacant buildings.

Pyle said overlapping work plans will link ongoing work. For example, the design committee will need the Main Street logo from the promotions committee before proceeding with the wayfinding signage.

The economic restructuring committee has also discussed basic physical work on vacant buildings, such as washing windows and taking down old signs. Pyle said once the Main Street logo is available, the organization will ask building owners for permission to place a sign in the window stating, "Another downtown building available; for information call (a specific phone number)."

Another major Main Street undertaking has involved an outreach to Hispanic business owners to engage them in the process. Norma Ramirez de Miess, a Washington, D.C.-based facilitator with from the National Main Street Center, will be in Monett on April 26 to meet one on one with business owners on April 26 and host a town-hall-style gathering that evening to explain the Main Street four-point approach to downtown revitalization.

"I think we've accomplished a lot in short amount of time," Pyle said. "We have a lot of enthusiasm to move ahead."

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