Lee’s Summit’s downtown will be showcased in March as part of the 2018 National Main Street Conference that is expected to bring more than 600 economic development professionals from across the United States. They’re visiting to see how the city revived a blighted and struggling area.
The announcement came at Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s annual meeting, which also included the naming of board members and presentation of awards. Donnie Rodgers Jr., executive director, recapped successes during the past year, noting that the organization was named one of the top 10 in the nation in a contest and also receiving accreditation. He said Donna Furr, a volunteer, was also recognized by the statewide Missouri Main Street Connection as the state’s volunteer of the year.
“We were quite proud of that; there was some tough competition,” Rodgers said.
Missouri Main Street Connection chose a new logo, one designed by Dave Eames, a Lee’s Summit artist who is active in the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street.
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The success and creativeness of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Inc, which has a small staff and depends on several volunteer committees to organize and promote events for the shopping district, led the state organization to lobby for bringing the national conference to Kansas City to particularly highlight Lee’s Summit, said Gayla Roten, director of Missouri Main Street Connect.
“We want to show the world what a great American Main Street looks like,” Roten said.
She said the Big Bash is typically a party that includes a trip to a museum, food and dancing, to celebrate after a day of workshops and meetings. The national organization agreed to let the state and Lee’s Summit group plan that event, she said.
“When we found out that Missouri Main Street Connection was chosen to host the 2018 Main Street Now Conference, we immediately began plans to bring the conference to Downtown Lee’s Summit,” Roten said. “We knew Lee’s Summit was a place we wanted to showcase with The Big Bash event, and now our conference attendees from across the country will get to experience one of the very best communities in America.”
Fundraising has started for the event, which is expected to cost $30,000, but the economic impact to downtown Lee’s Summit from that night is predicted to be $75,000 or more, plus the added benefit of more recognition.
Rodgers said he’d be very excited to see 600 of his peers visit downtown.
Earlier in the meeting, he reported results of the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street’s efforts to promote commerce.
The downtown district had a net of six new businesses added, with $1.3 million in private money was invested in renovations, and 58 new jobs were added, Rodgers said. The district had $33 million in taxable sales, up 20 percent over the previous year, he said.
He said that negotiations with the city for a new performance space and covered farmers market continues. “We hope to have another big announcement this year,” he said.
Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street presents awards
Volunteers, community members and local business owners were honored during the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner, Tuesday at The Aspen Room at the Stanley.
These individuals and businesses were recognized:
▪ Very Violet Boutique, Outstanding Window Display
▪ Smoke Brewing Company, Top Façade Rehabilitation
▪ David Zak, Dale Hartley Service Award
▪ Eric Vospette and Jim Clayton, Downtown Champions
▪ Chad Godfrey, New Member Dynamo
▪ Haunted and Historic Spaces Tour, Top Special Event
▪ Melissa McGhee, Volunteer of the Year
▪ Grains and Taps, Business of the Year
▪ Jen Steller, Award of Appreciation
▪ Donnie Rodgers Jr., President’s Award