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Missouri Main Street Connection, Pioneering New Accreditation Standards with Main Street America, Promotes One New Community to Accredited Tier!

August 31, 2022 | Keith Winge

Main Street America has updated the criteria for accreditation of local Main Street programs. Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) has been working with its local programs to ensure they are ready for the official launch of the new accreditation standards in 2024. The national criteria changed from ten standards to only six standards with a consolidation of some criteria and an emphasis on people, collaboration, and impact measurement built into the new criteria. MMSC started introducing the changes two years ago with a self-assessment in 2021 and 2022. An on-site visit took place in August that tested the application of the new criteria which MMSC introduced as a pilot program to test the new criteria in person with Main Street America staff visiting ten Missouri Main Street programs.

Seven Accredited and three Associate tier Missouri Main Street programs were visited during the weeks of August 15 – 22, 2022. While most of the visits were educational and didn’t alter the designation of accreditation, Downtown Joplin Alliance asked to be evaluated for accreditation.

Cape Girardeau, Chillicothe, Excelsior Springs, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Warrensburg, and Washington are currently accredited with Clinton, Independence, and Joplin at the Associate tier, a few steps away from accreditation. 

Each visit to these communities included Norma Rameriz de Miess, Vice-President of Revitalization Services, and Keith Winge, MMSC’s State Community Development Director. The team spent about seven hours with each Main Street program’s leadership, staff, volunteers, partners, and city officials to learn more about the program’s successes and areas for growth or opportunities for advancement. These observations were shared in a presentation to each program’s board of directors and partners to assist in planning and action steps for implementation at the end of the visit. Overall, Norma was impressed with implementation of the new standards reflecting the partnerships and collaboration to make each community’s downtown a vibrant place. Areas that were recommended the most for further development in many of the local programs were related to volunteer engagement, packaging the measured impact of Main Street locally, and partner support efforts.

Downtown Joplin Alliance was reviewed this year with an eye on accreditation. The local Main Street program has been working to impact downtown Joplin since 1989 with some ups and down through the years. The organization reached out to MMSC in 2017 to help them focus their efforts using the Main Street principles. The board was strengthened and the committees re-energized. Now, vacancy is low, partnerships are strong, and a contract for services secured with the city. Downtown Joplin Alliance’s hard work has paid off as Main Street America and Missouri Main Street bestowed accreditation on the eighth Main Street program is Missouri.

Main Street America will be back in 2024 to assess the Accredited and Associate communities once again in Missouri Main Street tier system, when the new standards will be fully implemented nationwide. This timeline allows local Main Street program and their community to further use the standards in improving their downtown revitalization efforts. MMSC will work with its local programs to provide technical and organizational services that help them make a bigger impact for the various stakeholders within the downtown and community as a whole.

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