Picayune Main Street has new digs

Published 12:25 am Sunday, June 10, 2007

Picayune Main Street offices now reside at 503 W. Canal Street. The ribbon cutting was Thursday at 6 p.m. with Mayor Greg Mitchell presiding and Main Street Program Director, Reba Bebe cutting the ribbon.

Before they had this beautiful office, they had no place to have board meetings or committee meetings.

“We’d have to meet at each other’s houses and find other places to have functions. We have a bathroom now,” Bebe grinned.

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The house is white with green trim and boasts a lobby, a conference room, an office, a kitchen and a spacious, comfortable area for smaller meetings. The porch is reminiscent of Old South days, and it is wheel chair accessible.

With the new space, the board hopes to be much more accessible to tourists.

“We had a visitor earlier this week,” Bebe said. “She said she came from a Main Street town in Tennessee. She bought some t-shirts and some other things with Picayune Main Street on them. That will go to help the Shay area, the fence and the cover.”

Along with the new offices, Picayune Main Street also has a new secretary, Lee Ann Smith. She’ll be there on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Main Street is often the name of the major retail and business street in most U.S. towns, however this term is given to towns that have put down stakes in revitalizing historical commercial districts. Usually, smaller towns of populations 20,000 or fewer.

Why revitalize downtown?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation says it this way:

“Your downtown or traditional commercial district is the most visible indicator of community pride, along with its economic and social health. It is either an asset or a liability in the effort to recruit new residents, new businesses and industries, retirees, tourists, and others to your community and to keep those you already have. Quality of life is what separates successful cities and towns from declining communities in the new millennium. Finally, your downtown or neighborhood commercial district is the visual representation for your community’s heritage. The architecture of your commercial district is a physical expression of your community’s history. The Main Street approach encourages forward-thinking economic development in an historic preservation context so this community asset and legacy can be passed on to future generations.”

With a revitalized downtown, the merchants draw from an expanded customer base which makes it less of a risk financially. The property owners have stable rents, the property values remain high. An occupied building is better maintained than an unoccupied one.

Location near banks, government buildings, restaurants gives business a broader customer base, and the shoppers easier access to more diverse shopping.

More employment opportunities are available and this preserves the community for future generations. There is a stronger tax base to support schools and local governments.

It encourages youth involvement in civic projects, evidenced by the young man who’s senior project was to fix the Shay fence, which looks very nice.

Main Street programs support each other and this increases visitor traffic to the community. That pumps additional money into the pool which helps to improve municipal services and the pocket book of businesses in downtown.

This improved quality of life makes it much easier for retaining as well as recruiting employable talent to the area.

Main Street is good for everyone.