Main Street program recommended for city

By Russell Hood

The Webster Progress-Times

 

A consultant, following a six-month study, has recommended that the city of Eupora establish a Main Street program.

Dianne Dyar presented her findings to the Eupora Board of Aldermen on July 1. The city contracted with Dyar Communication Strategy in December after discussing the need for retail development at the local level. Dyar, of Madison, was executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce for 15 years.

Her mission was to provide information the city needs to determine if a formalized retail development organization is needed. She surveyed businesses during on-site visits to determine the need for a business organization; reviewed existing organizations and their structure; and researched programs, projects and community development plans, among other work.

In a written summary of her final report, Dyar recommended that the city move forward in establishing a Main Street program to promote Eupora. She said in her recommendation that aligning with Mississippi Main Street will allow for the city to tap into the Mississippi Main Street program and its existing philosophy that addresses the issues and opportunities identified in Eupora:

• A local organization that will promote Eupora

• Create a clear plan for the promotion of Eupora

• Incorporate design elements to enhance curb appeal for Eupora

• Increased economic restricting — a balance of retail and commercial.

“Mississippi Main Street can provide local leaders with the support and resources to move Eupora to the next level of a thriving community, utilizing all of its resources — both natural and created — to be a star community of our state,” Dyar wrote.

She said support of the program at the municipal level will be crucial for its overall success as well as a paid staff person to help drive initiatives as deemed priorities by all involved in the process to protect and enhance the city. A part-time staffer would suffice until the program grows, she said.

The timeline for Main Street Eupora to begin should be no later than this fall, said Dyar, pending city and community financial support and resources.

Eupora previously participated in the Main Street program at the Mississippi Downtown Network membership level. However, the previous Board of Aldermen voted last year to table indefinitely renewal of the city’s annual MDN membership dues.

This came after the Webster County Development Council was disbanded. The $1,000 invoice from the Mississippi Main Street Association has not been paid since.

“You are $2,000 away from joining the Main Street program,” she told aldermen, apparently referring to payment of two years’ worth of dues. Dyar noted that the paperwork for Main Street membership is complete because of the city’s previous participation but may need updating.

“We have a golden opportunity to participate in Main Street,” Mayor Dan Burchfield said, but added that he thinks the city should wait until after Sept. 1 when the next budget is settled.

Dyar, who said she will submit a full report later, based her recommendation on local community interviews, a review of the Appalachian Regional Commission/Main Street charrette of 2009, a Mississippi State University “First Impressions” assessment report, Mississippi Development Authority assets mapping assessment and the Tennessee Valley Authority in-depth master plan.