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Economic development in downtown

Downtowns in Mississippi can be economic development hotbeds consisting of local retailers offering what big box stores can’t.
Picayune Main Street has been working hard to promote the downtown area within this city, and during Thursday’s board of directors meeting they heard good things from Mark Loughman, who is the President of the Mississippi Main Street Board of Directors.
He said when local businesses set up shop they collectively provide more economic development than a large car manufacturing plant.
The aim of Main Street members throughout Mississippi is to create jobs, revitalize communities and preserve the historic buildings within those areas, Loughman said.
While big box stores provide convenience, and many times a lower price on products, their impersonal nature allows small businesses to fill the gap with friendly service and unique merchandise.
Within the state there are 51 Main Street organizations that are full members, including Picayune’s.
The number of empty buildings in Picayune’s downtown area is decreasing. Picayune Main Street Director Reba Beebe said there are currently eight vacant buildings in that area.
Loughman said downtown areas with residential units have the ability to sustain themselves, which can include apartments on the second floor of a business. He said there are about 32 residential units in downtown Picayune.
Picayune became a member of the Mississippi Main Street Association in 1996, and since that time 52 businesses have beencreated, Loughman said. Additionally 10 buildings have seen expansions and 291 jobs were created.
That economic impact includes $247,000 of public money has been invested in the downtown area, $3.6 million of private money has been invested and volunteers have invested 5,500 hours into the organization.
For more on Picayune Main Street visit their website at http://picayunemainstreet.com/.