Main Street Matters kicks off

TUPELO – Officials with Mississippi Main Street Association on Tuesday unveiled their five-year business plan and capital campaign as part of a statewide tour.
The campaign, called Main Street Matters, aims to raise $1.8 million to support economic and community development in downtowns throughout the state.
The campaign also will help MMSA become more self-sufficient, said past board president Suzanne Smith. The organization is partially funded by the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s economic development division that has had its budget cut in recent years.
The cuts have trickled down to MMSA, causing it to realign its staffing and lay off Sam Agnew, who was the organization’s Tupelo-based northern district programs director.
As of Monday, MMSA had raised $750,000 for the campaign, said Executive Director Bob Wilson. He expects the campaign will wrap up at the end of next month.
The money will go toward preparing Mississippi’s downtowns for the future, said BancorpSouth Chairman and CEO Aubrey Patterson, who is the campaign chair for the northern region.
Organizers on Tuesday were quick to say that they don’t want the campaign to siphon money away from local Main Street organizations, such as the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.
“If it comes down to that, we would prefer an entity not to participate with us and to support the local community,” said board President Randy Burchfield.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal