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The "jewel" of Main Street

Olde Towne in Clinton is a crown jewel for the Mississippi Main Street Association.

Bob Wilson, executive director, Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA), said Clinton is really one of the “jewels” of the Main Street program.

“There are a lot of things that figure into its success,” Wilson said. “From the beginning, Main Street Clinton was fortunate to have a very supportive mayor and city council. Mayor Rosemary Aultman realized that Main Street is a true public/private partnership. Even though the city is the biggest funder of Main Street Clinton, the mayor understood the importance of locating the Main Street office outside of City Hall and under the umbrella of an independent board of directors made up of some very passionate private sector leaders and citizens.”

Wilson said Clinton is extremely lucky to have a manager who is as committed and passionate as her board and city leaders. “Tara Lytal has a background in design and her touch is visible throughout the Main Street district,” he said.

Mississippi College (MC) is also a great asset for the downtown area.

“There was a separation between the college and downtown when the program first started, but the partnership took hold several years ago and now each is a valuable asset to the other,” Wilson said. A great example of this partnership is the annual Back to the Bricks event, which welcomes MC students to Clinton with a ‘block party’ in Olde Towne Clinton.

“The timing and community partnerships have really created the perfect environment for a successful Main Street effort in the City of Clinton. Tara and her board have developed a successful Farmers Market that can truly be a small business incubator.”

The talent and creativity that exists in downtown Clinton has also been a real cornerstone for Main Street. Wyatt Waters owns an art gallery in Olde Towne and has been involved and supportive since the beginning of Clinton Main Street.

“Not only is Wyatt’s work evident all through Olde Towne Clinton (the green bicycle icon was his brainchild), he is also a fabulous mentor and teacher for the students at MC,” Wilson said. “He has provided hands-on instruction and training in painting murals, which can bring life and vitality to any downtown. At the same time, he preaches the need to give back and the importance of community and quality of place. The Mississippi Development Authority and Mississippi Arts Commission have partnered to promote the creative economy in Mississippi. Clinton is definitely a shining example of what the creative economy is all about.”

Clinton will host a MMSA manager training in October, an event that will bring together managers and local board members from all over the state to learn trends and tips.

“We are excited that they will also experience Clinton and observe Main Street Clinton firsthand, a model program for all of our communities in Mississippi and across the country,” Wilson said. “It is truly amazing what a community can accomplish with a talented manager, a supportive city leadership, a committed private sector, a community-minded higher learning institution and a citizenry that assumes control of their destiny for themselves and their children. The key to this partnership is that the participants do not care who gets credit for all the hard work and leadership that is apparent in this successful community and Main Street program.”

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About Becky Gillette

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