BREAKING NEWS: Downtown Laurel named Top 25 in America. Should they be #1?

ams-logoWe did it, y’all.

For the past few weeks you’ve clicked and liked, shared and commented. You’ve told stories, shared memories and convinced others to take a moment out of their lives to cast their vote for our City Beautiful.

253 nominees from all over the U.S. competed to show the world that they deserved to be named “America’s Main Street.”

Over 150,000 votes were cast, and among them were so many voices from right here in our beautiful home town, in our home state.

You did it. Your voices made this happen.

Downtown Laurel, Mississippi has officially been named among the Top 25 Main Streets in America!

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With you as our champions, we’ve shown the world what the folks of Laurel, the folks of Mississippi, really think of themselves. We’re one step closer to winning $25,000 for our downtown. But there is more to say.

Will you help make Downtown Laurel the #1 Main Street in America?

In just 25 days, the #1 Main Street in America will be named and the $25,000 prize will be awarded.

25 days to cast your vote daily, to share, like and comment. Just 25 days to show the world what Mississippi is about.

Click Here to Vote Now

How will we make it happen?

I believe in the work Laurel Main Street and the folks of Downtown Laurel are doing. This belief is what inspired me to nominate our beautiful home town for this much-deserved title. This belief is what inspired so many of you to cast your vote. And I know that this belief is what will carry us through to the end.

But why do we believe it?

What makes LMS the shining example of “America’s Main Streets?”

Most folks carry with them a sense of “home town pride.” Most folks would vote for their home town. But, we need more than most folks. We need to share a message with the entire state of Mississippi, with the country, that LMS is something special. That the work they are doing is the gold standard, the example of what can happen when folks who truly love their home town get together to tirelessly rebuild, restore and revitalize.

Laurel Main Street is special, and it’s our job to tell the world exactly why.

Laurel Main Street supports local creatives. - America's Main Street

1. They are a champion for local creatives.

This is a message that is very close to my heart. I believe it is the local creatives who help to build the heart and soul of a town. They show us through art, music and design what it feels like to be a part of a place, a part of a community.

Laurel Main Street has sought out these folks and helped them use their talents to achieve something bigger than themselves. By providing them with volunteer opportunities, seeking out their advice and counsel, and allowing them to make their own unique mark on the community, LMS has supported the growth of our artistic communities and creative professionals.

I see the results of this in my business every day. The creative folks I work with are falling madly in love with our city’s message. They see opportunities to help tell a beautiful story. They see a future that respects and utilizes the skills and expertise of the creative community. Laurel Main Street has directly contributed to the great Maker’s Movement that is happening, right here in Laurel.

Laurel Main Street supports local busines owners. - America's Main Street

2. They tirelessly support local businesses and the folks behind them.

Laurel Main Street has truly recognized the power of the problem solver. They’ve worked to support the folks coming into Downtown Laurel to test out a dream.

You see, this is vital for a small business owner. Without the support and companionship of those who face similar struggles, doubts and setbacks, and without someone to share in the excitement of their successes, many new business owners find the mountain of entrepreneurship too steep to climb.

LMS has worked to solve this very real problem. They’ve provided resources, advice and leadership, but they’ve also provided opportunities to become a part of a bigger message.

They’ve brought together folks from different backgrounds, areas of expertise and business models and put them together in a room with an exceptional goal – to build their community while also building their businesses.

This shared goal has been the catalyst for the companionship these folks so desperately need. This shared goals is the glue that holds all of us together as “Downtown Merchants,” with not only a shared goal, but a shared interest in our mutual success.

Laurel Main Street supports home town pride. - America's Main Street

3. They’ve helped us all regain pride in our beautiful home town.

Of course, home town pride isn’t limited to the entrepreneur. From all walks of life the people of Laurel, MS have come together to tell the world one important message – “this is OUR home town.”

Recently, this message has gained tremendous momentum through seemingly unbelievable circumstances. But, would the world believe our message if we didn’t believe it ourselves?

For years now, Laurel Main Street has been telling a story of a small town in South Mississippi. They’ve been showing locals and outsiders alike what it means to be a part of our beloved home town. They’ve shared the stories that made us who we are. They’ve created events and other opportunities to share this story beyond our community.

And they’ve done it all with a singular goal – to help us regain pride in our home town and to make it deserving of the name.

 

Laurel Main Street helps build relationships. - America's Main Street

4. Their focus on building relationships and working towards mutual progress is the driving force behind our success as a community.

Many times I’ve sat and discussed what makes a community successful with LMS’s Executive Director, Judi Holifield. Each time she reinforces the power of a single idea – relationships. For someone like me, a creative geek who tends to prefer the solitude of a computer screen to the roar of a crowd, this has always been a difficult concept for me to grasp. Surely, if we want it badly enough, we can make it happen on our own?

But the wisdom of building relationships isn’t in its appeal to the extrovert, it’s in the undeniable truth of the power of a movement. And a movement, in its very definition, requires the work of many.

On my own, my ideas are simply that – ideas. When I share them with others, when we see a common goal, a common truth, the power of the idea transforms into the power of action.

This is the driving force behind Judi’s work at LMS, and the battle she faces every day. By building relationships with those within the community – the business owners, the residents, the government officials and so many others, LMS has been able to create an army willing to go to battle for the city they love so much.

By extending the message beyond our community to folks throughout the state, to big organizations and policy makers, LMS has extended their reach far beyond the confines of our town.

These relationships not only carry a shared idea, but the ability to act and to see real change happen.

Laurel Main Street uses storytelling to build local culture. - America's Main Street

5. They use our stories to remind us why we fell in love in the first place, and why our home town is the best in the world.

When you look at communities outside of Laurel who are struggling to communicate their value, you’ll begin to notice that the same element is always missing. Without storytelling, without a true connection to an idea, a message lacks power.

From the shared experience of growing up beneath the swaying pines, to the wonderment of a child experiencing the bump bump of the brick streets for the first time. From the towering Masonite water tower, to the train rumbling through downtown throughout the day. These shared experiences are the background of our lives, they are the stage our lives are set on.

Memories of sitting on the grass watching a performance during Day in the Park, or the names and faces we see alongside our memories of the many shops who’ve been located in Downtown Laurel over the years; these are the experiences that define our shared identity. These are our stories.

Laurel Main Street has long recognized that it is our stories that make us who we are, it is our stories that define the culture and the deeper meaning of a place. And it is our stories that inspire us to act.

Will you act?

For the next 25 days, you have an opportunity to tell the world who we are. Yes, it will take all of us.

We are the movement. We have the ability to work together to share our story with the world.

We know Laurel is the shining example of “America’s Main Street,” but it is on us to share this message, to inspire others outside our community to see the power of our story.

It is our job to recognize the work of an organization like Laurel Main Street, of the people who work so tirelessly to give us a stage to set our lives on.

Will you act?

How you can help LMS win $25,000 and the title of “America’s Main Street”

Step 1. Vote, every single day.

Follow Laurel Main Street on Facebook and watch for reminders to vote every day. Take the time to click the link, then click vote, every day.
Click Here to Vote Now

Step 2. Share the call to action with everyone you know, and maybe some you don’t.

Email this post, or the contest link, to your friends and family, no matter where they are. Talk about the contest when you have an opportunity. Share as often as possible on social media and remind others to do the same.

America’s Main Street Contest Link: http://www.mainstreetcontest.com/profile.php?id=176

Step 3. Continue to believe in the power of this, our very own movement.

We can’t do this on our own. We need you, friend. We need your belief that we can make this happen. Stick with us, and we’ll share in something great together.