By JACK WEATHERLY
A wave of “urban renewal” left many American cities and towns with fewer historic buildings and a reduced sense of place.
A counter-movement has sought to reverse that trend and preserve history.
Main Street America was founded in 1980, and it soon found traction in Mississippi, a state long on history, and, in many places, short on economic vitality.
Vicksburg, Columbus, West Point, Meridian and Corinth were among the first Mississippi municipalities to qualify.
This year, there are among 47 participating in the program, according to the Mississippi Main Street Association.
But the effort goes far below the surface, and is much more than restoring facades, said Jeannie W. Zieren of the association.
In 2015, the Mississippi Main Street cities generated 178 net new businesses, expanded 49 existing businesses, created 1,695 net new jobs, along with 61 facade rehabs and 225 downtown residential units, according to the association.
Since 1993, the association has generated $4.9 billion in investments. Public money made up $2.2 billion of that from state and local government and historic tax credits.
State Historic Tax Credits were replenished this year after being exhausted in 2015. They and federal tax credits are crucial for the Main Street program, according to Zieren.
Unfortunately, non-revenue producing residential properties were not included in the state program this time, non-revenue producing residential properties, meaning association members such as Belhaven will have to do without.
One study shows that for every $1 in the credits, the return is $1.75.
For the 27th year, awards were given for one or more of the following design, promotions, organizations and economic vitality. Recipients were Starkville, Hattiesburg, Gulfport, Vicksburg, Laurel, Clinton, Cleveland, Kosciusko, Hernando, Carthage and Philadelphia.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info