Lately, downtown Lee’s Summit has been busy.
That’s what 19 bars and restaurants, a burgeoning nightlife scene, dozens of retail spots, and a thriving workforce will accomplish in a central business district.
And if you think downtown is hopping at 8:30 on any given Friday night, just wait until March 28 rolls around next spring.
The Big Bash will bombard downtown Lee’s Summit that evening — a party that serves as the culmination of the National Main Street Conference’s annual convention, which is coming in Kansas City in 2018.
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The national convention will bring hundreds of like-minded downtown supporters and professionals from all over the United States to the Kansas City area. Having attended National Main Street conferences in Des Moines and Detroit — and the Big Bash events that accompanied each — I can tell you firsthand that these gatherings are not only conducive to keeping our downtown professionals trained and engaged, but they have a tremendous impact, financially and in many other ways, for the cities they visit.
Seeing downtown Des Moines from a perspective beyond that of a tourist was extremely eye-opening to me. The visit to Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines was a highlight for the trip, which I am sure brought new ideas to not only downtown Lee’s Summit, but all the Main Street programs that attended.
A few years later, we found ourselves in downtown Detroit, with stops all along their downtown area and even into Windsor, Canada. These adventures away from our familiar districts are vital to those staff members and board members charged with the day-to-day operations of Main Street programs, big and small.
To have more than 600 planned visitors — with each attendee receiving a $25 gift card to spend at our local shops, retailers, restaurants, and bars — converging on downtown Lee’s Summit next March will be a fiscal boon for our downtown, our Community Improvement District, and to all of Lee’s Summit.
These national showcases of our downtown, much like the well-deserved Great American Main Street Award bestowed on Lee’s Summit in 2010, bring with it infinitely more press and exposure than we could ever imagine.
Each building and business owner in downtown Lee’s Summit will have a unique opportunity to showcase a product, a display, a brew, an appetizer, a service, or just to offer a friendly hello to fellow downtown supporters from Maine to Michigan and California to Connecticut.
Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street is in the process of raising $35,000 to help cover all the costs associated with such a monumental bash.
It seems as if, on an almost daily basis, our downtown makes strides and aesthetic improvements that will correlate to a visually appealing event, not only for the 600 attendees of the Big Bash, but for the thousands who will most likely be downtown on that Wednesday evening — from city hall employees to industry workers, visitors and downtown regulars at our shops, salons and bars.
The Big Bash is our zenith to show off our nationally-recognized downtown.
Considering every resident could or does have a stake in our historic district, this is a night as a business owner, patron, or supporter you simply cannot miss.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.