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2018 Recap

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | April 18, 2019
The end of the calendar year gives us the opportunity to look back, before we press on with a busy 2019.  We show our appreciation for your support through service, and the best way to communicate that services have an impact on the community is to show what was actually DONE by the Emporia Main Street organization and through affiliated partnerships.  On a monthly basis, a small staff and wonderful volunteers are constantly producing events, activities, and strategies to make a real difference.  Yes, we market what we do, but we take great pride in creating tangible impacts.  We always have areas where we can improve, but as we approach the last year in this decade, I think everyone can recognize the growth that has occurred.


Here is a monthly listing of some of the work programs initiated during 2019:


Held a Mix and Match event to improve community retention
Unwrapped Christmas lights from downtown lamp posts
Presented a check from Freedom Fest for
Judged the Hult Prize for entrepreneurship
Provided an IWW Loan for The Spectacle
Held a Youth Entrepreneurship preparatory event
Worked with a local food group on focused marketing
Held a Dirty Kanza business workshop
Hosted the first Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge
Placed interns at local business through the Emporia State University CII Program
Launched a “Love your local” campaign to assist in promoting local Valentines Shopping
Held a Cyber Security workshop
Hosted a Quarter Mania event
Assisted in promoting a local pub crawl
Held our first Easter sugar stroll
Presented three times at the Main Street National Conference
Hosted a National Main Street tour of downtown Emporia
Launched a Main Street design contest for t-shirts
Presented to the Kansas State University School of Architecture and Design
Finished a regional comparative market analysis
Held a downtown clean up
Judged the Entrepreneurship Challenge for Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College
Worked with City of Emporia Public Works officials to develop a waste management plan for yearly events
Hosted The Taste
Assisted with elements of the Glass Blown Open
Held the GBO Block Party
Assisted with the Kansas Craft Beer Week kickoff
Hosted the Kansas APA Symposium
Held a Welcome Wagon chalking event
Held a downtown cleanup
Launched a “proof of concept” temporary lighting project
Opened veterans banner lottery applications
Started the 2018 Adopt a Garden process
Reached $100 million in downtown investment over the life of the Emporia Main Street program
Managed several street closure and infrastructure assistance projects related to events
Met with a local videographer (Matt Fowler) to create time lapse video of the Dirty Kanza Finish Line Party
Assisted with the HOTT Cinco de Mayo event
Helped with the first ever “Cinco K” run
Assisted with elements of the Flatland Cruisers car show
Placed temporary outdoor lighting
Assisted with elements of La Grind stage race
Participated in Preservation Month, and received a Preservation Month Proclamation
Lead historic tours
Hosted Welcome Wagon chalking
Launched the early bird portion of the membership drive
Spoke with local middle school students about entrepreneurship
Assisted with various elements of the Dirty Kanza
Hosted the DK Finish Line Party
Launched the formal membership drive
Provided loan funds for the L & L Pets business transition
Attended a Network Kansas funding conference
Facilitated some downtown garden upgrades
Participated in a upper story development tour
Spoke to local service clubs about upcoming events
Presented Big Brothers with DK Finish Line donation check
Co-hosted the first ever “Junior Jam” for the Junior World Championships
Held the veterans banner selection lottery
Hosted the Emporia Main Street annual meeting
Facilitated student art window wraps on a downtown building
Provided a loan to Copper Top
Held the summer Midnight Madness
Announced the Citizens National Bank redevelopment project
Presented to the KACE Conference
Held a How Its Made Tour
Hosted Community Trek tours for ESU Students
Participated in the E-Experience with Emporia State University (3) for new students
Partnered with Lyon County State Bank to provide Emporia Main Street gift certificates to 300 new ESU students
Met with the City of Emporia Traffic Safety Committee to discuss parking lot usage
Assisted with the Emporia Farmers Market and ESB Financial Homegrown Celebration
Held multiple downtown clean ups
Hosted the Welcome Back Block Party for ESU and FHTC Students
Held a Mix and Match event
Held a Donor Preview of the 727 Commercial Street space
Hosted a Kansas Main Street training
Participated in the Community Connections fair
Presented at the Emporia State University Career Services Workshop
Hosted a Merchant to Merchant meeting
Held the Great American Market
Hosted a Quarter Mania
Moved into the new Main Street facility
Placed ESU Interns
Hosted a downtown clean up
Attended Maker Space boot camp
Provided loan funds to AAA Glass for their business transition
Hosted a Class of 1968 Tour
Participated in the annual luncheon with the City of Emporia
Co-hosted the Start Your Own Business Class
Held Haunted Tours
Hosted the downtown Trick or Treat
Held a Costume Contest
Assisted with the first Emporia HOTT Dia de los Muertos event
Assisted with marketing elements of Oktoberfest
Launched the 2018 Veterans Banners
Introduced new Emporia merchandise
Started a new intern (Lanie)
Assisted with the Day of the Dead parade
Held a Halloween/Day of the Dead window decorating contest
Became the permanent host facility for the Language Lab
Held a downtown Clean Up
Assisted with the local Sewer Project announcement
Helped with ESU Student Tours
Hosted Community offrendas in the Incubator portion of the building

Co-hosted Freedom Fest
Participated in the First Friday Art Walk by Kayla Mock and Joel Smith
Held the Public Improvement Auction
Made the Sound System generation announcement
Promoted Small Business Saturday
Held a Sugar Stroll
Hosted the first horse drawn carriage ride of the season
Sent soldier care packages to Kuwait
Held a public open house for the new facility
Given a Distinguished Service Award for support of soldiers
Wrapped lights on downtown lamp posts
Met with Urban Collaborative concerning community planning
Coordinated with KVOE and IM Design to donate $13,500 to local veterans initiatives through the Beyond the Banners project
Presented a Start Your Own Business presentation to local veterans through Kansas Works
Presented at an ESU Business Essentials class
Named one of the 13 Best Places to Live by an on-line magazine
Hosted a Quarter Mania
Held three horse drawn carriage nights
Midnight Madness
SYOB Graduation
Ornaments Results
Banner Cleaning/Storage/Retirement
Assisted in judging the Hult competition
Selected the first business for the Incubator space
Participated in the promotion of the public sewer project meeting
Shot multiple Red Ribbon Merchant promotional videos
Held an ugly sweater contest in conjunction with the Midnight Madness event
Participated in the First Friday Art Walk as an artist host location
Held a volunteer appreciation and vision reception


We have additional economic information (jobs, businesses, housing, etc.) that will be compiled as soon as we procure fourth quarter data (sometime in January).  The economic data highlights the impact of the scope of work, because an organization can remain “busy”, but if they aren’t improving metrics what is the point?  We didn’t include the hours spent in planning meetings with Design, Business Enhancement, Promotions, Board of Directors, or special committee meetings, and we didn’t include individual business recognition events in our listing.  Yes, all the planning and recognition is important, and we appreciate the thousands of hours our supporters volunteer on a yearly basis, but those activities are more related to organizational direction and maintenance than the actual listed projects.


The scope of work listed above go well beyond hosting a meeting, promoting a simple social gathering, offering recognition, or establishing contacts.  The items listed above represent a simple return on investment.  The returns gained sustainable change the community.  We don’t have the same metrics expressed in the same way as a decade ago, and we are facing different problems/opportunities because of a cooperative effort to solve for issues.  Again, we aren’t perfect, but we innovate to improve our community each year.  With your continued support, we can sustainably improve in 2019, and roar into the 20’s!

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.


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