Mexico accepted into Missouri Main Street program

Dennis Sharkey / Editor
Posted 11/29/23

The city of Mexico got some good news last week for the city’s future development.

Mexico Economic Development Director Amy O’Brien told council members at their regular meeting on …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Mexico accepted into Missouri Main Street program


The city of Mexico got some good news last week for the city’s future development.

Mexico Economic Development Director Amy O’Brien told council members at their regular meeting on Nov. 13, that the city was approved by the Missouri Main Street Program for a grant that will help the city set up its own Main Street program.

In September the council approved spending just over $12,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to apply for the grant. The city’s expense is a 40 percent match to the grant being provided by Missouri Main Street. The total cost of the two-year program is $30,800 with Missouri Main Street contributing close to $18,500 or about 60 percent. City Manager Bruce Slagle recommended the city invest in the plan at the early September meeting.

“We believe this is a way to help us gain some knowledge and some expertise in taking a look at what we can do for the community,” Slagle said.

O’Brien said she and other city officials like Community Development Director Rita Jackson and Chamber of Commerce Director Dana Keller went to a Main Street conference earlier this year and were sold after the presentation. Main Street currently has operations in 54 Missouri communities of different sizes including Washington and Chillicothe. 

O’Brien said one of the most impressive stories she heard was about Albany, a town in the northwest county of Gentry, which has had 13 new businesses come to its downtown since starting a program two years ago. Albany, according to 2020 census numbers, has a population of just under 1,700.

“They’ve had success,” O’Brien said. “There are communities of all sizes.”

O’Brien said the program will initially be for two years with Missouri Main Street overseeing the program until it’s off the ground. The program will form a not-for-profit and hire its own director. The goal of the program will be to market the city with special events, festivals, and initiatives that will provide, “a unique identity for the community.” Jackson was tasked with writing the grant that had to be submitted by late last month. Main Street Missouri officials toured Mexico on Nov. 7 with city leaders.

“The goals of the program are economic revitalization, community engagement, sustainable development, and an enhanced quality of life,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien also spoke to the Village Square Association (VSA), a group of downtown business owners, in September about the possibility of bringing a Main Street program to Mexico. O’Brien told VSA that if successful the Mexico Main Street Program will take over a lot of the duties VSA currently does.

“I don’t know all the answers yet but in my mind, I don’t think we would have both,” O’Brien told VSA members. “It’s kind of an exciting path to go down and as I learn and we learn together we’ll be sharing all of that with you.”

The news was well received by VSA members. Barb Wilson, owner of Kate’s Hallmark and chairwoman of the meeting loved what she heard.

“It’s not kind of, it’s very exciting,” Wilson said.

O’Brien told the Ledger the Mexico Main Street Program will be run by a board of local directors that will include VSA members and other civic leaders from outside the Downtown Square because it will be for the whole community.

O’Brien said the focus of the Main Street director will be finding ways to bring more business to the established businesses while at the same time attracting new businesses that will bring new people to Mexico.

“What you all have been doing was the traditional way downtowns ran but today you have to have someone who is focusing full-time on it,” O’Brien told board members. “You’ve got to have somebody that knows how to do all the things.”