Destination Downtown to be Held in Ocean Springs

Main Street directors, board members, volunteers, and other downtown enthusiasts are invited to Ocean Springs on Sept. 15th-17th for a regional Main Street conference, presented by the Mississippi Main Street Association (M.M.S.A.). The conference is held annually and rotates among Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

"Ocean Springs was selected to host Destination Downtown because of its successful and active Main Street program as well as its distinct selection as a Great American Main Street Award Winner in 2013," said Bob Wilson, M.M.S.A. Executive Director. "Only three Main Street communities in America received this prestigious honor, and we want our Main Street friends in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and beyond to experience this beautiful, revitalized coastal city."

"We know our conference participants will be refreshed and inspired in their downtown development efforts after visiting Ocean Springs and other strong Main Street cities on the Mississippi coast," Wilson said.

The three-day educational conference attracts more than 200 professionals in preservation-based, commercial district revitalization, including new and experienced downtown and neighborhood Main Street directors, board members, architects, planners, economic development professionals, public officials, volunteers, and consultants.

Attendees hail from communities of all sizes, from small rural towns to urban neighborhoods in large cities.

“What is ideal about Destination Downtown is that you get that hands-on experience and opportunity to find that one great idea for your community," says Margaret Miller, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. "It could happen in the classroom, from whom you sit next to, or when you explore beautiful Ocean Springs.”

“Smaller settings such as this can bring the bigger ideas and opportunities,” Miller added.

The conference kicks off with three tours for participants to choose from to get a good look, feel and taste of what is happening in downtown revitalization on the Mississippi coast.

Tours include the official sight-seeing tour of Ocean Springs and Biloxi, lunch on the grounds of the restored Charnley-Norwood house in Ocean Springs followed by a tour of the Ocean Springs-based Crooked Letter Brewery, and a tour to downtown Pascagoula, including Anchor Square, a retail development created from Mississippi Cottages that serves as a community gathering space and incubator for small businesses.

The Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau will sponsor a welcome reception on Monday evening at the Community Center next to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and the renowned museum will be open for conference participants.

The opening session will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday with a keynote address by Patrice Frey, President and C.E.O. of the National Main Street Center, Inc.

Frey has directed the National Main Street Center since it became a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2013. This will be Frey’s first visit to Mississippi.

Educational sessions covering the Main Street Four Point Approach® will take place all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in downtown Ocean Springs.

Exhibitors will also be open on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, including: Artificial Ice Events, Dig Creative Solutions, ExhibitMasters, Hometown Productions, Inc., Mississippi Development Authority Asset Development and Tourism Divisions, Mississippi Power, Mississippi Prison Industries, Inc., Sanderson Farms Championship, Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District, Resource Entertainment Group, and Webz Advertising.

A downtown street party will be held for conference participants in Ocean Springs on Tuesday evening at Boots and Spurs with food catered by local restaurants and adult beverages sponsored by Blue Moon, Crooked Letter Brewery, and Lazy Magnolia.

The conference will adjourn at noon on Wednesday after a closing session at 11 a.m. featuring Kennedy Smith, Principal of the CLUE Group, LLC and past director of the National Main Street Center.

This year’s conference is sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Asset Development Division and Tourism Division along with the Mississippi Power Company.

Supporting sponsors include Sanderson Farms, Dig Creative Solutions, Webz Advertising, Hometown Productions, Inc., Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Biloxi Main Street/City of Biloxi, Pascagoula Main Street/City of Pascagoula, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, and Hancock Bank.

Registration is $150 and includes a tour, two days of educational sessions, welcome reception, downtown street party, two breakfasts and networking breaks. Check or credit card payment is accepted. Online registration will close Monday, Sept 8th.

On site registration will open at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept 15th in the lobby of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in downtown Ocean Springs.

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