On Friday, April 10th, Main Street Siloam Springs hosted the 5th Annual Main Event! Just once each year, we host this fundraiser to assist the yearly operating budget for our work of historic preservation-based economic development in Downtown Siloam Springs. We are so deeply grateful to the community of Siloam Springs, Arkansas for their continued investment and support in and of our program. This year’s theme was “Experience the Magic of Downtown Siloam Springs,” and the evening was indeed magical!
Thank you to the staff of 28 Springs Restaurant, to all of our guests for celebrating with us and bidding on incredible auction items, to all those businesses and individuals who donated said incredible items, to our amazing event committee, and especially to our sponsors! Cobb, Cherokee Casino, Simmons Foods, Broadway Contracting, Grand Savings Bank, Innuendos Design Company (who created incredible event materials for us, including our stage and photobooth), Siloam Flowers and Gifts (the flowers were stunning!), Arvest Private Banking, and DanceEnhance (who provided sound and entertainment).
We had the opportunity to recognize Julie Chandler, Owner of Creative Corner on Broadway, Main Street Siloam Springs Board Member and long-time volunteer as Main Street Siloam Springs’ 2015 Volunteer of the Year at the event. We are so thankful for her years of dedicated time and talent!
We spent a lot of time looking back over the last five years of our work and of downtown reinvestment as a whole in preparation for the event (seemed appropriate since it was the 5th annual), so we’ve pasted a copy of the speech from the evening below that includes some impressive details from that review. We also encourage you to download the visual presentation from the evening, which follows a similar outline.
Click this link to view the evening’s visual presentation: Main Event 2015 Powerpoint
Text from Meredith Bergstrom’s speech:
“Welcome to the Main Event! This marks the fifth year that Main Street Siloam Springs has asked our community to come together for a special evening to support our work of preservation-based economic development.
Our theme tonight is “Experience the Magic.” Throughout the evening, our world-class magicians will enchant you with thrilling spectacles that push the boundaries of the possible.
I’m no magician myself, but I assume that learning how to perform magic is hard work. The acts you will see require a precision that can only be achieved through strenuous hours of learning and years of practice. Not to spill the beans or anything, but the magical acts that you will see – they are slights of hand, practiced illusions that surprise us and spark amazement.
Fortunately, the magic you see on our main streets in downtown Siloam Springs is not an illusion. But, like magic, it took hard work – years of it – to make the dramatic changes that also surprise and amaze.
So, allow me tonight to celebrate with you the many “magical acts,” if you will, and magicians, of our downtown revitalization story in Siloam Springs over the last five years.
Our Main Street program has grown since 2010 from a staff of 1 part time director to a full time director, a part time director of promotions and development, a contract Farmers Market manager, and two JBU work study students – not to mention nearly 75 volunteers, including board & committee members.
Collectively, these volunteers have donated 3,901 hours to our work throughout the past 5 years.
Tonight we recognized Julie Chandler as our 2015 volunteer of the year for her dedication and years of support for our work, and she is representative of our daily amazement at the people who come through our doors offering their services, time and passion. People like Kate Crafton, who moved to this town not long ago but dove in head first and without whom this event couldn’t have been a success. People like Bob and Cathie Coleman, who gave far beyond their share in preparation for this year’s Main Event. People like Traci Letellier, who has volunteered with us weekly for the past several months.
Also in the past five years, Main Street Siloam Springs has secured $228,000 in grant funding. These funds have been used to create the Downtown & Connectivity Master Plan, develop a new downtown website, and most recently – for major historic preservation projects. Just this last month we announced receipt of an $88,000 grant through the State of Arkansas to help with two major slipcover removals downtown – one on the old Morris Hotel building right down the street and the other on the old Spot Theater building on East Main. We are only eligible for this funding because of our Main Street Arkansas accreditation. We’ve also distributed $8000 in mini-façade grants for exterior building improvements since 2012. These competitive matching grants have helped businesses like Occasions, Café on Broadway, Dena Dickinson’s Law Office, Dogwood Literacy Council, 28 Springs, the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce, Lokalen Frame Shop, TC Screen Printing, and Honeysuckle.
Main Street takes building and planning seriously, but we also LOVE hosting people downtown for a good time! In the last year alone, 84 event days brought over 11,725 visitors to downtown. From our quarterly Girls Night Out events to Dog Day of Summer, Downtown Trick or Treat, to the Farmers Market: we love utilizing our beautiful public spaces to showcase downtown as a gathering place.
Speaking of the Farmers Market – total commerce at the market has increased 400% since 2010 – from $23,000 to over $90,000. This connection of local producers at the market to the buy local sentiment of downtown business has been an important way to bring people downtown, and we’re committed to continuing to host a quality and appealing market for many years to come.
All of this work that we do creates a framework in which private development can succeed and downtown reinvestment can be not only a passion, but a viable business opportunity.
In the last five years, 30 new businesses have opened and sustained operation in downtown Siloam Springs, including in the past year alone: Joy of Motion, Cross Country Cyclery, Ash & Ember, Inn at the Springs, Threads, Bathe, Cari’s Closet, Red Beard Fitness, La Creperie, Baby & Momma, and Honeysuckle. These businesses have created 91 new jobs.
In the last five years, downtown Siloam Springs has seen 13 major rehabilitation projects, totaling over $4.3M in private reinvestment and restoring over 40,000 square feet of historic buildings from vacant and underutilized space to vibrant and contributing retail, restaurant and living spaces. These projects have included amazing spaces like this one here at 28 Springs, and the Inn at the Springs – a beautiful space lovingly and carefully restored from top to bottom last year by Rosemary Junkerman and her three sisters. 200 S. Broadway is a building that has been developed from one huge underutilized space to 4 retail businesses and 3 loft apartments. Chris Moore at Pour Jons renovated his coffee shop on Wright Street last year to create a better customer experience and add vinyl record sales, and that shop now holds live music at least once a week if not more! Marsha & Mark Adkins bought the old Bible Bookstore, and over many months carefully and completely renovated the building inside and out. Their fun and funky vintage and antiques shop – Honeysuckle – now adds vibrancy and a splash of color to the life of downtown. Our event emcee tonight, Tyler Carroll also recently undertook a major restoration project on the south end of Broadway. Stop in and glance through their beautiful new storefront windows to see his business’ screen printing work in motion.
Some of these major building rehabs accessed important preservation tax credits. Four projects over the past five years have utilized $430,000 in Federal and State Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Terry & Shari Devor’s rehab of the second floor of their beautiful building (which includes downtown staple 2 Gals’ Junk) on the South end of Broadway is one great example of this.
So. That’s a lot. And let me just tell you, sometimes it does feel like we are supposed to be magicians in this work of downtown revitalization. As you can see, the work of a Main Street program is incredibly broad. We are supposed to be professionals in the fields of historic preservation, design, architecture, real estate development, fundraising, grant-writing, business recruitment, economic development, tactical urbanism, community planning, marketing, event organizing, retail promotions, website development, social media.
And here’s the truth. We are professionals, and there is no magician. Every entrepreneur, every property owner, donor, and volunteer committed to this work comprise our community of experts. I define community as a group of people who’ve come together around a singular goal. Our goal is to have a great and authentic place which we can occupy together – a place that we love and in which we celebrate, work, meander, enjoy and mark important occasions, play, run, dance, listen to music, serve each other good food and drink – a place which invites everyone to come to do the same. Thank you for being part of that lofty goal.”