The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) hosted its first Main Street Legislative Day at the Mississippi State Capitol. Special guests included Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who made remarks as the organization shared its economic impact on the state economy and highlighted ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.
Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sibonie Swatzyna represented the city at Thursday’s event.
“Local Main Street Associations across the State are making our communities a great place to live and raise a family,” said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. “These thriving, yet quaint communities are showing the world that Mississippi is a great place to visit, and it exhibits the pride our residents have to be Mississippians.”
In 2022, Mississippi Main Street’s 48 designated communities helped generate 495 new businesses, 841 new jobs, 56 business expansions, and catalyzed $82 million in private investment, and $160 million in public investment in Mississippi’s Main Street districts.
In addition, there were significant projects completed in the downtown districts in 2022, including 183 rehabilitation projects, 79 public improvement projects, 1,817 downtown residential units, and 24 new construction projects. More than 42,255 hours were logged by Main Street volunteers in the 48 designated Main Street communities that contributed to the annual report.
“Dollar for dollar, Main Street has proven to be one of Mississippi’s most successful programs at bringing new jobs and businesses to our downtowns,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. “Main Street helps attract visitors to our state and provides quality of life for Mississippi residents, which in turn, drives Mississippi’s local economies.”
Main Street is a nationwide preservation-based economic development program, with more than 1,200 local Main Street organizations across the United States. Mississippi’s Main Street program began in 1984 and helps create hundreds of new jobs and new businesses each year in downtowns throughout Mississippi.
MMSA organized the event, which included directors from Main Street organizations all over the state, state and local board members, state legislators, and other statewide partners, who celebrated Main Street and its positive impact on Mississippi communities and small businesses.
“As our reported 2022 economic impact numbers reveal, Main Street is an effective economic development program, with an impressive record of success in creating small business growth and sustainable jobs, all of which catalyze public and private investment in Mississippi’s communities,” said Thomas Gregory, MMSA Executive Director.
“We are so thankful for the Mississippi Legislature’s support of our work, and we look forward to continuing to be Mississippi’s premier statewide organization for downtown revitalization and local economic development,” Gregory continued.
As a statewide non-profit organization, MMSA is led by a board of directors, and Michelle Jones, owner of The Cottage Industry in Starkville, is currently serving as the association’s president.
“Main Street is more than festivals and beautification projects, although those are certainly important quality of life endeavors,” Jones said. “Main Street builds strong local economies through its revitalization work.”
“Looking at the number of new businesses and jobs created across Mississippi just this past year, Main Street truly is one our state’s most successful local economic development tools,” Jones added.