The City of Clinton didn’t have to look far to find its first Main Street manager.
Mayor Rosemary Aultman interviewed several candidates for the job, but recommended Clinton resident Tara Lytal. Aldermen appointed Lytal to the position recently.
The Main Street Program is a long-term, incremental comprehensive approach to downtown revitalization for communities with a population of 5,000 to 50,000. It focuses on organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring (business development).
“Initially, Main Street will focus on Clinton’s Olde Towne area and the focus could be expanded,” said Bob Wilson, deputy director, Mississippi Main Street Program.
Wilson believes some results will be evident in the first year of the program because of Clinton’s planning efforts that include a recent charrette. The charrette also focused on Olde Towne. A final report is due from the charrette by Christmas.
A ceremony is planned in January to mark the city’s designation as a Main Street community.
Clinton and Pontotoc County’s inclusion into the program make 49 Main Street communities. An additional application for a 50th community is pending, said Wilson.
“Tara’s background in retail, her service on the architectural review committee, her commitment to Olde Towne and her degrees makes her perfectly suited for Main Street manager,” said Aultman.
Although she won’t begin work until January 2, Lytal has a vision of what she would like to see accomplished. “My hope is that over the next several years owners and residents will come together supporting a shared vision of revitalization and economic development. I hope, too, that the reward for their combined efforts will be a vibrant community with a mix of restaurants, shops, professionals and residents that will draw visitors to our community,” said Lytal.
Lytal’s office will be next door to the former Public Works Department, which is at 200 West Leake Street.
Aultman said Lytal will have to resign from the architectural review committee, but “she will work very closely with them on projects regarding the Main Street area.”
Lytal became interested in the Main Street Program when it came to Clinton several years ago to review the city for possible membership. “The mayor put together a panel of several Clintonians to be interviewed by Main Street and I was one of the panel members,” said Lytal, a resident of Olde Towne.
She said, “Since then I have tried to stay informed on the membership process. This past summer, I asked about our membership status and found we were waiting on a vote from the Main Street Mississippi board, which would take place in September and that a Main Street manager would be hired after that.”
“I sent Mayor Aultman my résumé in August. I was interested in the Main Street job, because of my desire to make a positive impact in my community. Through the Main Street manager position, I can use my degree in public relations and my design experience. I truly believe the Main Street program can be a catalyst drawing business and people to Clinton,” said Lytal.
Lytal grew up in Clinton. Her parents moved to the city in 1965 to teach at Mississippi College. Her father, Billy Lytal, was the department chairman of communications. Her mother, Linda, a counselor, taught psychology at Mississippi College. She has a sister, Heather Lytal Broadwater, who lives in Clinton with her family. Lytal holds an undergraduate degree in interior design and a master’s degree in public relations, both from Mississippi College.
“I am both humbled and thrilled to be the mayor’s recommendation for this position,” said Lytal.
For the past 12 1/2 years, Lytal has been employed by The Cupboard. She said, “It will be a real adjustment leaving a place that feels so much like home, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”
She hopes her commitment and love of Clinton will prove an asset in her job as well as her work and civic experience.
Lytal will receive training through the Mississippi Main Street Program, but said, “at this point I do not know the extent or when it will take place.”
Olde Towne artist Wyatt Waters, a longtime supporter of the Main Street Program, predicts Lytal will do a “great job.”
“You need someone who understands Clinton and this type development,” he said.