PRESS RELEASE: Laurel Main Street Receives 2017 National Main Street Accreditation

Posted June 14, 2017


Judi Holifield
Laurel Main Street
(601) 433-3255

Laurel, MS — June 14, 2017  Laurel Main Street has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its Coordinating Program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®. 

“It is a great honor to recognize this year’s 828 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs for their outstanding work to transform downtown and neighborhood commercial districts,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Main Streets are the heart of our communities, and the work they do to create quality public spaces, catalyze local entrepreneurship, and support downtown housing is more important than ever. Across the county, Main Street America programs truly strengthen the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their entire communities.”

The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Mississippi Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

Laurel Main Street board president, Lew Yoder says, “2017 has been an exciting year for Laurel Main Street.  We have seen tremendous growth in all of our Main Street events so far this year, and we have seen more participation and excitement in Downtown Laurel.” He went on to say, “We have multiple buildings being renovated currently, and several buildings that will be renovated very soon.  Downtown Laurel is about to see an explosion of new businesses, restaurants, shops and venues.  It is an exciting time to be a part of Laurel Main Street and Mississippi’s Downtown.”

Founded in 2007, Laurel Main Street is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Laurel, Miss., through preservation and economic growth. They recently received accreditation from the National Main Street Program and maintain membership with the Mississippi Main Street Association. To learn more about Laurel Main Street, please visit

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $71.35 billion in new public and private investment, generated 583,869 net new jobs and 131,974 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 267,800 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  ###

PRESS RELEASE: HGTV Pilot “Home Town” Featuring Laurel, Miss. to Premiere January 24th

Posted January 22, 2016


Judi Holifield
Laurel Main Street

HGTV Pilot “Home Town” Featuring Laurel, Miss.
to Premiere January 24th

Laurel, Miss. – Jan. 11, 2016 – HGTV will premiere the pilot episode of “Home Town” on Sunday, January 24 at 11:00 a.m. CT. The show features Erin and Ben Napier showing new residents the benefits of small-town life while finding, buying and renovating a home in Laurel, Miss.

“Ben and I aren’t house flippers,” said Erin. “We’re just two people who want others to see the magic of small town living and everything it has to offer.”

In the episode, the Napiers guide a new family in search of an old home in the historic southern town of Laurel, Miss. With the help local architects, builders and craftsmen, Erin and Ben implement their design and vision to restore the old house. If the pilot is successful, the show could become a series on HGTV. “When you live in a small town, you can make a difference. It’s affordable. You can travel and see the world, but the small towns are important. That’s where most people’s lives begin,” said Ben, who hopes the show could be a catalyst that brings other young families back home to their small towns all over America.

College sweethearts and graduates of the University of Mississippi, this creative couple own several businesses including wedding stationery boutique Lucky Luxe Heirloom Design, Lucky Luxe Dry Goods, and Scotsman Co. which features handcrafted furniture by Ben as well as some of his “favorite things” that speak to masculine vintage style.

For more information and behind-the-scenes photos, fans can visit:

About HGTV

America’s leading home and lifestyle brand, HGTV features a top-rated cable network that is distributed to more than 96 million U.S. households and, the premier source for home-related inspiration, instruction and entertainment, attracts more than six million people each month. The brand also includes the HGTV HOME™ consumer products line which showcases exclusive collections of paint, flooring, furniture, plants, fabrics and other home-oriented products. For more information on HGTV HOME branded products and to find a retailer, go to In partnership with Hearst Magazines, the HGTV Magazine, a home and lifestyle publication, is currently available on newsstands. Viewers can become fans of HGTV and interact with other home improvement enthusiasts through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., HGTV is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI).

About Laurel Main Street

Founded in 2007, Laurel Main Street is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Laurel, Miss., through preservation and economic growth. They recently received accreditation from the National Main Street Program and maintain membership with the Mississippi Main Street Association. To learn more about Laurel Main Street, please visit


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LMS presents at 2015 MS Main Street Back Stage Pass Event

Posted January 27, 2015

2015 Back Stage Pass Mississippi Main Street

Featured Photo & Banner Photo by Mississippi Arts Commission

One of the most important philosophies of Laurel Main Street is to work together with others toward a common goal. We find others in our community who believe as we do and we develop partnerships, strategies and plans to see new ideas come to life. Our purpose, first and foremost, is the revitalization, preservation and economic growth of Laurel’s central business district, or “Downtown Laurel”.

We can’t do it alone.

As a part of the Mississippi Main Street Association we not only have the systems and tools in place to further growth, but we have become part of a network of incredible organizations that work together to see all of Mississippi’s communities lifted up.

Every year MS Main Street hosts an event that embodies this philosophy of growth – Back Stage Pass. Bob Wilson, MMSA Executive Director, said, “Back Stage Pass focuses on planning for festivals and special events that reveal your town’s authentic character through the sharing of ideas and like experiences with other event planners throughout the Southeast. We invite event planners from towns of all sizes to join us for fun, networking and learning as we explore ways to develop and enhance events that build community character and contribute to the creative economy and overall quality of life.”

This year’s event was a partnership in and of itself, as MS Main Street worked alongside Visit Mississippi and the Mississippi Arts Commission to “nurture and promote creativity and creative development in the state,” said Malcolm White, Visit Mississippi director. “The Back Stage Pass partnership is a great example of how government can work together to provide constituents with training and tools needed to build top-notch events that positively affect budgets and bottom lines.”

The 2015 Back Stage Pass Event

2015 Back Stage Pass Mississippi Main Street

Robert St. John, Keynote at 2015 Back Stage Pass – Photo by Mississippi Arts Commission

The 4th Annual BSP event was held in Hattiesburg January 21st and 22nd, 2015. More than 200 community builders, leaders and planners stepped through the shining glass doors at The Lake Terrace Convention Center, excited to learn how to build and grow successful festivals and downtown events from the shared experiences of their peers and the unique insights of a broad selection of experts and industry leaders.

Robert St. John, Hattiesburg restauranteur and author, opened the event with an inspiring keynote focused on the importance of capturing your town’s authentic character and unique story.

Breakout sessions covered a variety of topics from social media to finding and training interns to the importance of thinking strategically when planning events and festivals.

Judi Holifield, LMS Executive Director, and Bethany Byrd, LMS Social Media Manager and Content Strategy Partner, were invited to present on Laurel Main Street’s signature event: The Loblolly Festival.

Building & Promoting an Annual Event: The Loblolly Festival

Building & Promoting an Annual Event: The Loblolly Festival

The Loblolly Festival is an event like no other – it is the embodiment of Laurel’s unique history and the character of our beautiful city. The lessons learned through the creation and ongoing development of this growing festival are valuable to those who, like us, want to see the unique spirit of their town come to life through an annual event.

Every year, as the last festival-goers head home and the vendors start to pack up their creations, the LMS committees, members, partners and volunteers, led by Judi Holifield, begin to look toward the future. In fact, the most important element of the Loblolly strategy is what happens after the festival – the “post-mortem”.

Building a successful event with the post-mortem

During the BSP presentation, Judi explained the importance of incremental improvement and of the lessons learned each year through this exercise. The post mortem is about more than recognizing each year’s successes and shortcomings, it is about finding ways to improve and grow, year after year.

Through Judi’s implementation of the post-mortem, Laurel Main Street has been able to create:

  • A Culture of Problem Solving – By focusing on solutions rather than problems, LMS is able to strategically improve its festivals and events over time.
  • A Culture of Growth – By focusing on the long-term impact of festivals and events, LMS is able to not only build on previous ideas and successes, but to use the festival to achieve a larger goal – the revitalization and growth of Downtown Laurel.
  • A Culture of Engagement – By being aware and receptive of new ideas, partnerships and opportunities, and by empowering others, LMS is able to build key relationships that lead to the growth and increased impact of its festivals and events.

We hope that the insights and personal experiences Judi shared with the Back Stage Pass attendees will help them to build a festival that will not only represent their town, but that will grow and improve over time through strategic planning.

2015 Back Stage Pass Mississippi Main Street Judi Holifield Presents

Judi Holifield, LMS Executive Director, presents at 2015 Back Stage Pass – Photo by Mississippi Arts Commission

Promoting local events through online marketing

Bethany Byrd presents at Mississippi Main Street's Back Stage Pass Event 2015

Bethany Byrd, Inbound Marketing Expert, presents at 2015 Back Stage Pass – Photo by MS Main Street

“Small town festivals aren’t about the vendors, the funnel cakes or the music – they’re about the people who call that tiny town home, and the celebration of all of the things that make it deserving of the name.” – Bethany Byrd

In early 2014, Bethany Byrd, president of Own Your Hill, partnered with Laurel Main Street to help guide our offline efforts into effective online marketing strategies and to help build relationships with our community through social media, email marketing and content strategy and creation.

At the Back Stage Pass event she presented the 5-step content marketing formula she created to successfully promote the 2014 Loblolly Festival. The formula, based on inspiring the local community to action and building the overall brands of both the festival and the LMS organization, resulted in increased attention, engagement and connection with our audiences both online and off, before, during and after the festival.

Get her full 5-step Loblolly Formula to Local Event Marketing Success here.

We hope that the information presented by Judi and Bethany was useful and inspiring to those who attended their presentation and are thankful to the event organizers for inviting them to share our successes and the lessons we’ve learned.

We know that, through organizations like Mississippi Main Street and events like Back Stage Pass, the future of Mississippi’s downtowns and communities is bright and by helping each other, we will all move forward toward a shining future.

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