Supporting the heart: Picayune Main receives national honor
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016
On June 16, The Mississippi Main Street Association announced that Picayune Main Street was once again designated as an accredited National Main Street Program.
This marks the eighth year the program has earned this designation, Picayune Main Street Director Reba Beebe said.
“The heart of any community is the downtown area,” Beebe said. “If the heart’s not in good shape, neither will the rest of the body. It’s important to keep that heart alive.”
According to a release from the Mississippi Main Street Association, programs must meet 10 performance standards based on their ability to cultivate strong public-private partnerships, secure an operating budget, record programmatic progress and preserve historic buildings.
“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center said in the release. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”
Picayune Main Street is composed of 11 Board members, 115 members and 140 volunteers, Beebe said.
The non-profit’s mission includes preserving the historic character of downtown, promoting locally owned businesses and events and marketing Picayune as a tourist destination.
Throughout the downtown area on West and East Canal, visitors and residents will see many contributions from Picayune Main Street, including benches, cement planters and magnetic metal signage. The organization also contributed funds to the city’s purchase of ornate lamp posts installed downtown, Beebe said.
Main Street themed signage is also located at the intersection of Highway 11 North and Highway 43 and near the I-59 and Highway 43 South intersection. These signs are used to promote local festivals and attractions, Beebe said.
Picayune Main Street sponsors many events including the fall and spring Picayune Street Festivals, Shop by Candlelight/Christmas on the Rails, Blues and Heritage Festival, Rockin’ & Grillin’ Palooza and the Relay for Life Cancer Survivor Celebration, just to name a few.
In addition to signage and banners hung throughout town, Beebe also utilizes social media to promote events, including those sponsored by local civic organizations.
The Shop Small promotion has grown since its establishment in 2010, Beebe said. The event is held on the Saturday between two of the biggest shopping events of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Beebe said.
In 2015, at larger retailers, Black Friday sales were down to about $15 billion and Cyber Monday sales increased to about $3 billion, Beebe said.
However, sales increased by about 14 percent in 2015 for small businesses nationwide, she said.
“Small businesses were reported to make $15 billion in sales, which met Black Friday’s sales numbers,” Beebe said. “The Shop Small promotion is helping and we need more people to shop locally.”
In order to become a nationally accredited community, Beebe said she must submit an annual program of works and a plan of events for the year. Picayune Main Street utilizes a four-point approach: design, organization, promotions and economic vitality, Beebe said. She also submits the same program to Picayune’s city officials.
“The goal is to help business become more active and bring energy back downtown,” she said. “There are four committees responsible for planning events and for each category of our four-point approach.”
Picayune is also included in coastal Mississippi’s Main Street Association statistics, Beebe said. During the first six months of 2015, just from the coastal area, $51.1 million private dollars were invested, $334,500 public dollars were reinvested, 359 jobs were created and 2,525 volunteer hours were recorded, Beebe said.
Beebe said Main Street has plans to purchase more planters and interested parties can purchase plaques to honor or memorialize someone. She also plans to garner more local interest in Main Street programs and Main Street is always looking for more volunteers for events.
“If we don’t have support from the city, we don’t have a Main Street program,” Beebe said. “I’ve very proud we received this. We do work hard to promote our city, events and all organizations that bring tourism into our community. We also want to get our local people involved and to realize there are things to do at home. We work hard to meet our vision statement for an active community and vital downtown.”
Learn more about Picayune Main Street at www.picayunemainstreet.com and through Facebook at Picayune Main Street for up-date-information about events.