Four Point Approach
Organization establishes consensus and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups that have a stake in the commercial district. By getting everyone working toward the same goal, your Main Street program can provide effective, ongoing management and advocacy for the downtown or neighborhood business district. Through volunteer recruitment and collaboration with partners representing a broad cross section of the community, your program can incorporate a wide range of perspectives into its efforts. A governing board of directors and standing committees make up the fundamental organizational structure of volunteer-driven revitalization programs. Volunteers are coordinated and supported by a paid program director. This structure not only divides the workload and clearly delineates responsibilities, but also builds consensus and cooperation among the various stakeholders.
Promotion takes many forms, but the goal is to create a positive image that will rekindle community pride and improve consumer and investor confidence in your commercial district. Advertising, retail promotions, special events, and marketing campaigns help sell the image and promise of Main Street to the community and surrounding region. Promotions communicate your commercial district’s unique characteristics, business establishments, and activities to shoppers, investors, potential business and property owners, and visitors.
Design means getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors. It takes advantage of the visual opportunities inherent in a commercial district by directing attention to all of its physical elements: public and private buildings, storefronts, signs, public spaces, parking areas, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, and promotional materials. An appealing atmosphere, created through attention to all of these visual elements, conveys a positive message about the commercial district and what it has to offer. Design activities also include instilling good maintenance practices in the commercial district, enhancing the district’s physical appearance through the rehabilitation of historic buildings, encouraging appropriate new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, educating business and property owners about design quality, and long-term planning.
Economic restructuring strengthens your community’s existing economic assets while diversifying its economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners, and attracting new businesses that the market can support. Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district. The goal is to build a commercial district that responds to the needs of today’s consumers.
Coincidentally, the four points of the Main Street approach correspond with the four forces of real estate value, which are social, political, physical, and economic.
Here’s Our Story
In the early 1980s, there was very little development in downtown Ocean Springs with a few exceptions. Government Street was practically a ghost town and the Mary C. schoolhouse was its anchor, which was set to be torn down, during this time.
It began with Washington Avenue, as its potential was clearly seen with its more than 300 year old, large, live oaks that led the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The growth began “one step at a time” slowly one building was added, one trash receptacle was placed, one bench was included and so on. It did not happen over night but one by one the growth came.
Events were a big start to the growth. Inspired by the Anderson family, the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival was started with card tables and quilts. As its growth moved down the street, so did the commerce. Then the focus turned to Government Street, not too many years ago. The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center turned from being the center of town to the outskirts of town. Through hard work and perseverance, it was brought back to new life, from removing the asbestos, and sponsoring each room, one by one. It was placed on the list of the “ten Most Endangered Buildings in Mississippi” in 2000. And thankfully it has been removed. Today, it is the cultural center of downtown complete with a performing arts theatre, music studio, Viking equipped culinary café, history museum, gallery and classrooms for the education of the arts. www.themaryc.org
With the focus on Government Street, during the years after Hurricane Katrina, a downtown façade grant was administered through Ocean Springs Main Street to restore and improve architectural features to the façade of downtown buildings including storefronts, awnings, decorative fencing, signage and landscaping.
Following that project one of which continues to this day is the streetscape program. Through a match with the City and Chamber, downtown businesses purchase trash receptacles, benches, bicycle racks or other pieces for the outside near their business in downtown. Each piece is green in color and includes the words “Ocean Springs Main Street” on the outside bringing color and uniformity to the public spaces of downtown. Slowly one trash receptacle, one bench, one bicycle rack has been added to the streetscape of downtown.
Behind that project began the downtown revitalization program through the City of Ocean Springs. The project which just finished up late 2012 included the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce – Main Street – Tourism Bureau’s parking lot being redesigned, landscaped, lit, buried power lines on Government Street in downtown, lighting on Government Street has been added, as well as, Oak trees planted. The street corners were paved and green space parking lots were nestled in, one named Myrtle Keys Park, all improving the public spaces of downtown.
The beachfront project has also been a major part of revitalization with the addition of vegetation, walking and biking paths, Fort Maurepas Park, the bridge murals and the bridge itself. The Biloxi Bay Bridge was completed destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After years of work with the City, MDOT and others, the new bridge was built with extra lanes, a walking path from Ocean Springs Front Beach to Biloxi and artwork along the way encouraging folks to “Walk on Water”!!!
Ocean Springs is filled with one of a kind shops, art galleries, restaurants, street festivals and a Saturday morning Fresh Market. There is always something to do in Ocean Springs, downtown, uptown, all around town. Buy local.
2013 Great American Main Street Award Community!