Downtown Strong Grant April Update: It's All About Image!

April 29, 2022 | MO Main St.

The pandemic has been a true test of the resiliency for communities across Missouri. As we continue to navigate a world still battling various strains of the Coronavirus, many communities across Missouri have started to make a comeback. They have adapted their business model, implemented health and safety protocols in their business, and have received aid from private and public sources to get the help they need to take their business to the next level meeting the needs of today’s consumers.  This is true for Earl “Chip” Smith Jr. who is a recipient of the Downtown Strong Grant that Missouri Main Street Connection provided in partnership with the Economic Development Administration in 2021.


In early 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic, Chip quit his job to start his own business, Cross Grand, in a building in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis. He anticipated a robust business of interior photography and video shoots of weddings, sports, and special events using his honed skills of narrative building, photography, videography, and other mediums to tell people’s stories well! His plan was to use his indoor space at 3304 Meramec as a multi-purpose space to facilitate shoots and consultations. These dreams were soon halted as the pandemic took over and most in person events were postponed or cancelled. Yet Chip didn’t let the pandemic squash his dreams and successfully pivoted to virtual videography as a new revenue stream.  

As the pandemic continued through 2020 and into 2021, Chip knew that his pivot to include virtual videography would not be enough to continue to sustain him for much longer and he needed to set himself up to take advantage of the market as soon as things started opening up again. That is when he took advantage of Missouri Main Street’s new Downtown Strong grant that opened in 2021 to Missouri Main Street programs, of which Downtown Dutchtown was a part of the new St. Louis Main Streets pilot program. Chip saw this grant opportunity that would provide direct business consultations to support downtown businesses through a variety of services.  He applied and was awarded the grant. Chip was paired with BOLD Marketing to rework his website in order to take his creative agency to the next level and increase his sales.  He also needed help to rethink creative ways he could increase his return on investment and better utilize his space.

BOLD Marketing has worked with Chip to revamp his website and rethink what he was doing and how he was doing it. Setting him up for success by teaching him how to market himself and his new refreshed website. They had quickly figured out Chip needed to up his game – Chip said “They helped my business by simply giving me confidence in showing off my website. In the world we are living in now it’s all about image and I think my new website represents what Cross Grand is – Quality!”  As part of the grant, Chip received training on managing his website and utilizing marketing tactics to grow his business.

This article was prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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