Main Street program has lengthy history
By By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 13, 2002
NEWTON The Mississippi Downtown Development Association dates back to 1989.
It was founded after then-Gov. Ray Mabus brought in an economic development expert from South Carolina, Mac Holladay, to be Mississippi's chief of economic development.
Holladay had set up a similar Main Street program in South Carolina under its governor at the time, Richard Riley, a future U.S. education secretary.
Mississippi's Main Street association is a partner with the Mississippi Department Authority, which provides most of the association's funding with a grant.
All Main Street programs in the United States are under the umbrella of the National Trust for Historic Preservation a nonprofit organization which provides leadership, education and advocacy to save the nation's historic places and revitalize communities.
The Main Street program began in the 1970s as a project of the National Trust. A few men were sent out to an economically depressed Midwest and asked to come back with ways to save the nation's historic downtowns.
Today, Main Street associations such as the one in Mississippi offers a team that can evaluate a downtown's strengths and weaknesses and also can offer speakers and workshops.