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2016 Year in Review

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | December 30, 2016
Emporia Main Street works with a variety of members and partners to push new initiatives and create new opportunities every year.  We appreciate everyone’s support as we work to create a better Emporia, and it is important to occasionally look back at what has been accomplished before moving forward.  The following is a brief look back at some of what was accomplished in 2016:
– Co-Hosted a meet and greet for ESU President Allison Garrett
– Worked towards the reformation of Kansas Main Street through participating in the Director hiring process
– Funded Rolling Hills Bar and Grill in Americus
– Announced the Bourbon Cowboy project, which represented one of thirty-six chronic vacancies that were reverted to new ownership or productive use, in part, due to the chronically vacant property ordinance.
– Hosted a mingle at Twin Rivers
– Started the Destination Business Council for businesses that participated in the Destination Boot Camp


– Hosted a Destination Business Workshop with Jon Schallert
– Assisted in the Start Your Own Business Class
– Spoke at the International Smart Growth Conference in Portland, Oregon
– Hosted a Mix and Match event
– Assisted in the formal Downtown Emporia Bar Association (DEBA) formation


– Held a Quarter Mania
– Hosted a Start Your Own Business Class graduation
– Assisted with the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl
– Held a “How It’s Made” tour
– Participated in a Meet and Greet for Ingrid Pearson
– Released our new “2020” vision
– Began releasing GBO media packets
– Spoke at the City Clerks Conference in Wichita
– Provided funding for the 714 Commercial building acquisition and rehab


First Quarter also saw:
– 1 Expansion
– 2 Public Improvements
– 1 Building Sold
– 2 New Business Openings
– 9 Building rehabilitation’s


– Held a Glass Blown Open Shop Hop
– Hosted “The Taste”
– Began the 2016 iteration of the Adopt a Garden program
– Held the Glass Blown Open Block Party
– Lost Lauren Woolard to North Carolina (and she just had a beautiful baby girl!), and added Jessica Buchholz to the team
– Participated as a judge in the Emporia State University Entrepreneurial Challenge
– Sent out Dirty Kanza Media Packets
– Spoke to the Kansas State University School of Architecture
– Built A LOT of fence for upcoming events
– Assisted in Emporia High School Business Curriculum development


– Assisted with Cinco de Mayo festivities
– Assisted with the Flatland Cruisers Car Show
– Gave two presentations at the National Main Street conference
– Nominated for “Best Main Street” by USA Today
– Participated in the Federal Reserve Entrepreneurial Community Summit
– Built MORE fence for activities that continue to grow…
– Participated in “This Place Matters” activities for National Preservation      Month
– I Heart Emporia merchandise introduced
– Held a series of downtown clean ups


– Assisted with the Dirty Kanza, including “Welcome Wagon” chalking activities and hosting the finish line block party
– Held a historic walking tour
– Participated as a speaker in Symphony in the Flint Hills
– Participated in the second “Coffee with Corky” to promote Emporia State University
– Received recognition as the number one ranked Main Street in the United States by USA Today


Second Quarter also saw:
– 4 Building rehabilitation’s
– 3 Buildings Sold
– 5 Business Openings


– Held the Veterans Banner Sponsorship
– Hosted a Midnight Madness with our first ever “selfie contest”
– Developed an Internship Pilot Program with the ESU School of Business that included an internship workshop for potential employers.
– Held our 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting
– Hosted “Adopt a Garden” Voting
– Participated in a Community Trek with ESU to acclimate incoming freshman to the community
– Announced the Homegrown Campaign for a new Emporia Main Street office and business incubator
– Launched the 25th Anniversary Video


– Hosted the Block Party for the World Championship of Disc Golf and “Welcome Wagon” chalking
– Held a Mix and Match
– Hosted a Welcome Back Block Party for ESU and FHTC Students
– Held “Adopt a Garden” voting
– Hosted a garden clean up with local daycare classes
– Participated in ESU Graduate Student Orientation
– Held a Historic Tour
– Met with Resident Hall Advisers and the Director of Residential Life on Campus to promote local business options


– Held the Great American Market
– Partnered with an ESU Leadership class to market to athletic event fans
– Hosted activities for ESU Family Day (shop hop)
– Held a Quarter Mania
– Hosted a How It’s Made Tour, with special ESU Participation
– Started the Intern Pilot Program
– Coordinated businesses for Destination Boot Camp
– Presented at an ESU Ethics class
– Introduced the I Heart Emporia stickers


Third Quarter also saw:
– 3 Building Rehabs
– 4 Buildings Sold
– 5 Business Openings
– 2 Public Improvements
– 49 Housing Units Created


– Held three “Tailgate and Open Late” activities
– Hosted a downtown Trick or Treat
– Held Haunted Tours
– Assisted with Oktoberfest
– Attended a Kansas Main Street quarterly training
– Worked with the City and Emporia State Facilities crew to get    banners placed downtown and on campus
– arranged fpr a local grop of businesses to attend Desitination  Boot Camp
– Held our first ever costume contest
– Provided funding for Gravel City Adventure and Supply Company
– Provided funding for Mohn Standard


– Held the Public Improvement Auction
– Assisted with Freedom Fest
– Assisted with the first ever “Longest Lunch” activity
– Hosted Small Business Saturday events
– Held the first ever “Sugar Stroll”
– Hosted the first ever Veterans Banner Walk
– Created a presentation for the National Bicycling Conference
– Hosted EHS Stream Day Tours
– Helped decorate downtown lamp posts
– Developed the mobile selfie station
– Provided funding for Prairie Earth Tours


– Hosted Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
– Held a Quarter Mania
– Hosted Midnight Madness
– Procured 2016 Ornaments and other Emporia Merchandise for sale through local merchants
– Produced Red Ribbon Merchant Videos
– Provided funding for Sunflower Gymnastics
– Provided funding for Uncommon Threads


Data is incomplete for fourth quarter development
At Emporia Main Street, we think it is very important to show value to our members and the community at large.  The activities listed are facilitated by roughly 3,000 volunteer hours per year, and hundreds of volunteers.  We’ve worked very hard with all of you to create a nationally recognized community, but we understand there is much more to be done.  The 2016 year was momentous (how many times is your Main Street ranked number 1?), but we are working towards bigger accomplishments next year.  With your help, we will continue our work towards a better Emporia!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.