For centuries, Main Streets have been the cultural, historic, economic, civic, and emotional hearts of our towns and cities. We’re proud to be part of the movement that brings these things back to life in Laurel! The Main Street organization was founded upon the principle that sustainable, comprehensive transformation of a downtown or commercial district doesn’t happen overnight or with one “big fix.” Laurel Main Street has been at work since 2007 to preserve our historic buildings while revitalizing our local economy. However, the goal of our work goes much deeper than simply creating a beautiful downtown district with businesses and activities to enjoy… We want to provide a solid sense of ownership in the downtown and core commercial district.
Since its inception, Laurel Main Street has been recruiting business owners and private investors to the downtown area. Because of those efforts, our downtown has seen a private re-investment of over $40 MILLION dollars. When you attend or are an exhibitor at Laurel Main Street events, such as Loblolly Festival or Touch a Truck, you’re directly contributing to the LMS Façade and Amenities Grant fund. In the past 36 months, Laurel Main Street has awarded $54,556.94 in façade grants to downtown businesses. The LMS Façade & Amenities grant was created to help downtown business owners refresh and update their buildings. There have been 19 façade improvements in downtown Laurel in the past two years. That’s almost one building a month! Some of the buildings who received a facelift thanks to a LMS Façade & Amenities grant include The Boutique on Central, Mimmo’s, The Loft on Central, and the shops at Sawmill — Quarter Century, Studio R3, Goodness Gracious, Pause Espresso Cafe, and Bella Bella.
Laurel Main Street has raised over $50,000 to improve the downtown area. The projects are too numerous to list, but here are a few you might have noticed: painted murals on the Laurel-Jones County Library and the Marcus Building, the addition of 15 trash receptacles, 2 bike racks, and 4 pet waste disposal stations, as well as the string lights above the streets. Through partnerships with MDOT and The City of Laurel, Laurel Main Street was able to add way finding signage downtown to make it more tourist-friendly and walkable. Thanks to many generous donations to Laurel Main Street, we have been able to clean up and repurpose Trustmark Park into Trustmark Art Park for children and families to enjoy. We have also assisted in the transformation of the Oak Street Pocket Park into a lovely spot for eating lunch, taking an outdoor break, or just walking through to get downtown!
In 2017, Laurel Main Street proposed a Social District Ordinance that would allow patrons to sip & stroll through the streets of downtown Laurel. We appreciate the Mississippi legislature and The City of Laurel for this ordinance. The adoption of the Social District Ordinance has increased shopping, dining, and the overall enjoyment of downtown. We’re more than family fun and festivals. The Main Street movement is the leading voice for economic development and community revitalization of historic districts across the country.
New businesses in downtown Laurel: 34 businesses in 3 years
Apartments in downtown Laurel: 29 Vacancies: 0
Vacant buildings in 2011: 30 Vacant buildings today: 8
Awards and Accolades
Since 2009, Laurel Main Street has racked up 19 Mississippi Main Street Association Downtown Revitalization awards! Did you know that Laurel Main Street has been awarded the Best Adaptive Re-use Project by MMSA three times? The rehabilitation and reuse of the First National Bank Building, Slowboat Brewing Co., and The Burton Building are shining examples of what the Main Street initiative is all about! Small-scale development and adaptive reuse go hand-in-hand. The creative and curated nature of small-scale developments allows seemingly “unusable” buildings to be repurposed into unique places with entirely new formats that bring unique focus to neighborhoods and add new value.
Laurel Main Street has also been recognized by the MMSA for outstanding capital campaigns, public improvement projects, business retention and recruitment, and overall community transformation, just to name a few!
We are always thankful for the gifts we receive through the generosity of our community. Leadership Jones County and Future Leaders of Jones County participants have contributed to our downtown in so many meaningful ways! Thank you for the picnic tables, garbage cans, Imagination Playground, and the beautiful mural at Central Creativity!
The Main Street movement grew out of a recognition that a community is only as strong as its core. This approach has proven over and over again that a small number of committed people can make a big difference in a community.
As we look forward to the new year, we are filled with excitement over the things to come. We want you to know that we hear you loud and clear: you want MORE live music, MORE restaurants, and MORE things to do downtown and it’s our goal to continue recruiting reputable business owners who can deliver what you want. After all, Laurel Main Street succeeds when small business owners succeed. The future belongs to downtowns!