Batesville Main Street Association chosen for state placemaking project

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has secured funding from the USDA Rural Partners Network to embark on an exciting placemaking initiative. The Place: Map + Design + Build Project will be implemented in 11 rural Main Street communities across the state, including the Batesville Main Street Association. The aim of the grant project is to provide vital support, technical assistance, and training to Main Street programs, nurturing the growth of placemaking activities in these rural areas.

Placemaking, a collaborative process that harnesses creativity and vibrant public spaces, lies at the heart of the project. Its overarching objective is to cultivate high-quality environments where people are inspired to live, work, play, and learn.

Thomas Gregory, the executive director of MMSA, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “Creating vibrant, authentic places is what Main Street is all about. Through the Place: Map + Design + Build project, we will equip each of the selected communities, including Batesville, with the necessary planning and design assistance to foster placemaking initiatives in their historic downtowns.”

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To ensure the success of this endeavor, MMSA has assembled a skilled team of professionals specializing in planning, design and economic development. This team will be responsible for creating and implementing innovative placemaking plans tailored to the unique characteristics and needs of each of the 11 rural communities participating in the project.

The 11 Designated Main Street programs selected for the initiative encompass a diverse range of towns, including Amory, Byhalia, Greenville, Greenwood, Pascagoula, Moss Point, Tunica, Woodville, Louisville, Hernando and, of course, Batesville.

In the coming months, each community will engage in a two-day community engagement process. During this period, the planning team, in collaboration with community leaders, stakeholders, and city officials, will work closely to develop strategic and customized placemaking plans. The primary focus will be on enhancing existing assets and improving the overall quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

The project’s placemaking themes will revolve around four key areas: expanding broadband access capacity, preserving cultural and historic structures, boosting economic activity, and supporting the development of vibrant recreational public spaces. By addressing these critical aspects, the project aims to create sustainable and thriving communities.

At the conclusion of the two-day community engagement process, each participating community will receive a comprehensive planning document outlining three to five project designs accompanied by practical implementation strategies. This valuable resource will guide the communities as they work towards transforming their downtown areas into vibrant and inviting spaces.

In addition to the initial grant funding, MMSA has also been awarded an Innovation Seed Grant. This grant will enable each community, including Batesville, to collaborate with the project team in implementing a design of their choice before the grant period concludes. This hands-on assistance will ensure that the selected communities have the necessary support to bring their placemaking visions to life.

Following the completion of the Place: Map + Design + Build project, MMSA remains committed to the ongoing success of the community participants. The association will continue to provide technical assistance and support to help ensure the effective implementation of the placemaking initiatives.

Beyond the revitalization of public recreational areas and preservation of historic sites, the project will also focus on improving access to and deployment of broadband services in the participating communities. This approach acknowledges the growing importance of connectivity in fostering economic development and enhancing quality of life.

The project team, comprised of experts in various fields, includes Thomas Gregory and Lindsey Harris from MMSA, Randy Wilson from Community Design Solutions, Ben Muldrow from Arnett Muldrow and Associates, Andy Kalback from Kalback Design Studio, Leah Kemp from MSU Small Town Center, and Chance McDavid from MSU Stennis Institute.

With the support and dedication of MMSA and its project team, the selected rural communities, including Batesville, are poised to embark on a transformative journey towards creating vibrant and prosperous spaces that will benefit residents and visitors for generations to come.