Main Street El Dorado is revising its regular meeting schedule to take a more hands-on approach toward economic vitality and to prepare for upcoming changes with the national, Main Street America program.
Beth Brumley, MSE executive director, said the new schedule will more closely align the group with other Main Street programs across the state.
During an annual planning retreat Wednesday, MSE board members formally voted to meet every other month, rather than monthly.
In the intervening months, the four MSE committees -- economic vitality, promotion, organization and design -- will convene for breakout sessions and nontraditional meetings, allowing more time for the group to focus on applicable projects, said Brumley.
Additionally, MSE board members agreed to distribute consent agendas in order to review and approve such items as the minutes and monthly treasurer's and executive director's reports in the months when the full board does not meet.
"We'll mail out consent agendas on the opposite months. Instead of me reading the executive director's report to them, they can read them," Brumley said.
The new schedule will help board members use their time and carry out their duties more effectively, she added.
Brumley said the idea for the change came from a recent Main Street Arkansas meeting that included roundtable discussions with state Main Street officials and other program directors of Main Street communities in Arkansas.
"Some of them said they meet every other month and I was like, 'What?! How do you do that and get anything done?' I talked to other Main Street programs and I learned that we're out of the ordinary by meeting every month," Brumley said.
"I came back and printed out our bylaws and it says we're only required to meet 6 months out of the year," she continued.
Brumley presented the idea to the MSE board, who agreed that committee members could spend more time on special projects.
The committees comprise the Four Points that make up the national Main Street program's community transformation strategy. The Four Points include:
• Economic Vitality, which focuses on capital, incentives and other economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses, catalyze property development and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators who drive local economies.
• Design supports a community's transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the local commercial district apart.
• Promotion positions the downtown or commercial district as the center of a local community and a hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community's unique characteristics.
• Organization involves creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, which includes cultivating partnerships, community involvement and resources for the Main Street district.
"For instance, the design committee may meet in some of the areas downtown and look at (potential) public art projects or grants for funding projects," Brumley said.
"Or, the economic vitality group may meet with a storefront or a business owner to discuss ideas. I figured we could give them an hour every other month to work on extra stuff," she said.
MSE will also spend the year preparing and training for new accreditation standards that will be coming up on 2024 for the Main Street America.
Brumley said more details about the program will be forthcoming.
In 2017, MSE agreed to shift its previously promotion-heavy center to a more balanced focus that fleshes out the other three points of the national program.
The decision stemmed from the opening of the Murphy Arts District and an annual evaluation by Main Street Arkansas, who found that MSE seemed to focus disproportionately on promotional events, such as concerts, festivals and summer events.
MSE board members also said then that they would allow MAD to take the lead on presenting entertainment events in El Dorado as a part of an effort to develop "The Festival City" brand.
The goal of the brand idea, which was unveiled following a branding, marketing and tourism study that was conducted in the late 00s by destination developer Roger Brooks, was to help the city stifle a downward economic trend and population losses by turning El Dorado into an entertainment hub that is positioned in the middle larger cities and destinations in the Mid-South region.
"The Festival City" came with the tagline, "It's Showtime!"
Brumley said she MSE remains event-heavy, noting that the status is hard to escape in a community that has branded itself as "The Festival City."
However, she said MSE has pledged to work more comprehensively on the other three points that are outlined in the Main Street America roadmap toward community-driven revitalization.
"I feel like we've gone in the right direction since 2017 and we've done a good job of telling our story so that we can continue to grow and, hopefully, do a better job in educating people about the benefits of the Main Street program," Brumley said.
The MSE board will next meet at noon on March 14 at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 111 W. Main.