JACKSON  - The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 30th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson.

MMSA Board President Kevin Stafford of Neel-Schaffer and MMSA Past President Ed Gardner of Entergy presented awards to recipients from local Main Street programs throughout the state.

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.

The 2019 Main Street Heroes Award was presented to Leadership is Servanthood. They are a member of Ripley Main Street and was nominated by Ripley Main Street Director Elizabeth Behm. Rob Hodges, Leadership is Servanthood founder, accepted the award.

Leadership is Servanthood is a non-profit organization that reaches youth through mentorship of core values and servanthood in order to grow the future leaders of the community. The group meets every week after school for their leadership program and then they meet every Saturday morning to complete beautification projects in town.

“These projects include a program of remodeling and maintaining the islands along Highway 15, picking up litter in and around Ripley’s historic square, maintaining the green space created by Ripley Main Street, and assisting in the upkeep of yards of elderly and disabled residents,” said Behm. “The impact has been huge in Tippah County.  The kids have learned a great deal about how to take pride in their community through helping others. The business owners have also learned a lot by watching these kids. They are taking notice of their own islands and wanting to keep them fixed up. “

“The MMSA is honored to celebrate Mississippi’s downtown communities,” said Kevin Stafford, MMSA Board President.  “Our local leaders, partners, and investors are to be admired and commended for their vision and drive to reinvent, rehabilitate, grow, and diversify the downtown experience, all while preserving its historical legacy.”

“I am inspired by their entrepreneurial spirit and impressed by the economic opportunities provided to our communities,” Stafford said.

LPK Architects, neonFROG, inc. and Renovations of Mississippi sponsored the 30th awards luncheon.

Every dollar spent in this organization results in $80 of private investment, the highest return on investment of any economic activity in the state.

Since 1993, MMSA has generated more than $5 billion in private and public investment (including more than $1.2 billion in public investment).

In 2018, Mississippi Main Street Communities generated 247 net new businesses, 68 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,225 net new jobs, 84 façade rehabilitations, 309 downtown residential units, 29 new construction projects and 56 public improvement projects were completed as well as 45,267 volunteer hours.

MMSA currently has 53 active Main Street programs that include 47 Main Street communities and six downtown network members.

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