Thursday, August 2, 2007
Main Street: benefits, responsibilities
By SUE WATSON
About eight years ago the Town of Tunica decided to apply for a Mississippi Main Street Program and was accepted after much self study.
This week The South Reporter talked to Tunica Mayor Lynn Sturgill and Main Street program director Lynn Ryals to see how the Delta town benefitted from participation in Mississippi Main Street and what a program asks of the community.
Two weeks ago the City of Holly Springs Board of Aldermen voted to apply for Main Street status. Learning how other Main Street programs helped to revitalize downtowns across America and to promote economic development gives towns and cities wanting a Main Street more information about the potential benefits and also the responsibilities the community is required to take on.
Tunica attained Small Town Main Street status under the administration of former mayor Bobby Williams in April 2000. Although Tunica County was undergoing enormous development due to the arrival of casinos and the hotel and convention business, the Town of Tunica was being overlooked by the booming casino tourism business.
Sturgill said she believes Tunica is the only town in Mississippi Main Street that funds its program - which this year was to the tune of $250,000.
Tunica is unique in that aspect because of its cut of the Tunica casino industry tax revenue the county so graciously shared with the town.
“Usually Main Street has projects and fund-raisers and businesses pay dues to help fund it,” Sturgill said. “We don’t have that many shops.”
The program brings the community together, she said.
“That’s one of our main goals - community togetherness,” Sturgill said.
Much of the Main Street budget is used for advertising the town’s attractions in regional magazines, on television and on billboards, according to Ryals.
The facade improvement program allows businesses to apply for a grant to pay up to one-half the cost to paint the exterior or replace awnings up to a cap of $2,000, Ryals said.
If the business spends $4,000 on its facade, Tunica Main Street will pay $2,000 of the cost.
The facade improvements have helped beautify downtown, which already benefitted from major landscaping improvements begun under Williams’ tenure.
Sturgill said almost every business in downtown has taken advantage of the facades - attorneys, shop owners, insurance offices, the cleaners, for example.
Sturgill said it takes the whole town to make Main Street work.
Tunica Main Street funds a director and assistant director. But the entire town pitches in to make events a success.
“The town is huge with volunteerism,” she said. “Almost anybody, no matter what age, will help us.”
But merchants have to get on board to make it work, Sturgill said.
“They have to work as a group,” she said. “It can’t be me, me, me, me.
“Main Street cannot advertise just one shop, it has to spread the advertising to cover all. Main Street’s main job is to keep existing businesses downtown viable and to bring in new business.”
Tunica Main Street has three committees - a Merchants’ Committee, an Economic Development Committee and a Promotional Committee.
Tunica Main Street Programs
The program built public bathroom facilities downtown, bought playground equipment for the park, and paid for thousands of dollars in advertising Tunica as a good place to visit and to live.
Some programs Tunica Main Street sponsors include Tunica This Week, which airs on Channel 5 television on Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. The program covers Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee; Monroe, Louisiana; and Greenville, Greenwood, Cleveland and Clarksdale in Mississippi.
Four billboards placed in the casino district in Robinsonville touts Tunica as a good place to shop, dine, and enjoy.
Tunica’s brochures are distributed in Mississippi Welcome Centers and advertisements run in the DeSoto, Delta, Life in the Delta, Mississippi, and Mid-South magazines. The Tunica Times newspaper also publishes the Tunica Visitor which is free in the resort area.
Ads are also placed in seven kiosks built around Tunica by the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
Directional banners were installed along Highway 61 near the city limits, letting visitors know how to get to downtown.
The following activities are sponsored by Tunica Main Street:
Some new businesses or existing businesses were expanded partly due to the Tunica Main Street Program and people are now wanting to live in Tunica, Ryals said.
New businesses include:
Ryals said the business community needs to realize they “really need to help raise the money for Main Street.”
“Advertising is not cheap,” she said.
The beautification of downtown is one of the biggest changes that has been made in Tunica in the last 10 years.
Ryals said people are now moving to Tunica and there are lots of new subdivisions going in.
“They comment on our beautiful downtown,” she said. “Even tourists love our downtown because it’s walkable and it’s beautiful.”
For more information on Tunica, visit www.tunicamainstreet.com.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page