Downtown: It’s ‘like a big business’

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The state’s Main Street Association would like to develop Main Street-oriented tourism trails, the group’s executive director said Wednesday.
Bob Wilson, who heads the Mississippi Main Street Association, laid out the organization’s five-year strategic plan at the Cellular South Networking at Noon event at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.
The plan emphasizes the national Main Street Association’s goal of serving as an economic development tool.
“Really, look at your downtown like a big business,” he advised the attendees.
Wilson said some of the economic development goals include expanding culinary tourism options in the state’s Main Street communities. He’d also like to see a statewide Main Street Trail, similar to the popular Mississippi Blues Trail that has more than 100 markers at Blues-related destinations.
The organization, which falls under the umbrella of the Mississippi Development Authority, also wants to look at other economic tools such as low-interest loans, municipal tax abatements and a statewide facade grant program.
In addition, Wilson wants the organization to continue working with Main Street communities to help them enhance their festivals, their downtown residential offerings and their downtown branding and signage efforts.
Wilson said the strategic plan will require about $2.3 million in capital funds over the five years. He expects MMSA to kick off a campaign later this summer.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.