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2019 Year In Review!

Casey Woods by Casey Woods, Executive Director | January 6, 2020
A brief look back before we begin 2020!
Emporia Main Street doesn’t spend a lot of time looking backward in time. We’ve found that too much time looking behind you causes organizations to miss the opportunities in front of them. However, the change of a year (or decade in this instance) gives us the opportunity to briefly pause and look back over a busy 2019. This was the first full year in our new home at 727 Commercial Street, and we did our best to take full advantage of new resources to push our region forward. The following is a brief record of 2019.

January- Hosted a holiday gathering for Board and Committee members, started on our Vision 2030 project, offered multiple tours of the new Main Street facility, executed several planning activities for 2019 events, participated in some regional media interviews, held two board meetings, shared proceeds with partners from the Presbyterian Church from a cooperative activity, hosted a Promotions Team meeting, met with officials from Hewlit Packard about emerging technology, hosted a Design Team meeting, held CII interviews for business interns, hosted a Merchant to Merchant meeting, and held a Business Enhancement meeting.

February- Participated in a few building Code Team visits, joined the I-6/THINK/CORI team with a series of calls and visits, held ESU Intern interviews, added two new Board members, assisted EPA’s Smart Growth division with a data collection project, held two Board of Directors meetings, hosted a Mix and Mingle for new area residents, held a Promotions Team Meeting, participated in engineering infrastructure meetings for sewer project planning, hosted a Design Team meeting, met with USDA Field Office officials concerning alternative finance options for area projects, hosted a Business Enhancement Team meeting, promoted local retail Valentines specials, met with ESU Career Services, hosted/led a National Main Street webinar, worked with Lifetime on Dirty Kanza planning, met with ECKAN concerning volunteer opportunities, and started some event infrastructure meetings with Emporia Public Works.

March- Attended the National Main Street Conference in Seattle (and had two national presentations), conducted a downtown cleanup with ESU GIVE, participated in a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality tech integration meeting, judged a couple of entrepreneurship competitions, worked with several area partners on I6 grant writing, held two Board of Directors meetings, conducted garden and pre/post event cleanups, hosted a Promotions Team meeting, assisted in marketing St. Patrick’s Day activities, held a Design Team meeting, gave a presentation to the local Rotary Club, hosted a Business Enhancement Team meeting, participated in a Kansas Army National Guard activity, hosted an American Sign Language teaching session in the incubator space, held a Youth Entrepreneurship Competition, acted as the host site for weekly Spanish Speakers meetings, began Speakeasy event planning, and provided Mike’s Sporting Goods a loan to allow for their business expansion.

1st Quarter Economic Development: Private and Public Projects initiated in the core had a monetary investment value of $1,598,105.30.

April- Organized the Glass Blown Open Block Party, conducted several downtown clean up activities, organized Welcome Wagon activities to welcome disc golfers to the community, participated in interviews related to the I6 and rural innovation that became a part of a couple of national news stories, hosted the disc “lost and found” for the GBO, acted as the host site and business communication office for the sewer project, shot multiple social media business videos, were part of a NPR news story, hosted two Board of Directors meetings, gave a speech to the local PEO, hosted a Promotions Team Meeting, attended the Business Advisory Meeting for Emporia High School, held a Design Team meeting, participated in a City of Emporia Census information session, hosted a Business Enhancement meeting, held The Taste, acted as an artist host site for First Friday Art Walk, continued with I6 Grant writing and submission, and submitted city and county appropriations information.

May- Hosted the Americorp group that worked on several public improvement projects and events, conducted some site/business visits out of state, coordinated with partners from Public Works on event management, started Food Truck Friday placements, worked with Audio Lite to install the downtown sound system, attended a Network Kansas fund meeting, hosted weekly sewer project update meetings, offered logistical assistance to the Flatland Cruisers for their car show, held two Board of Directors meetings, assisted HOTT in their Cinco de Mayo event, hosted a Promotions Team meeting, held a social media workshop, held a Design Team meeting, hosted a First Friday Art Walk artist, hosted a Welcome Wagon for Dirty Kanza participants, worked the Dirty Kanza Expo, provided a loan to Brusrs (a local automotive shop), and authorized a loan to Ken’s Sharpening service (a graduate of the Start Your Own Business Class).

June- Held a Board special information session, provided space for the Tallgrass Prairie Retreat, held the Dirty Kanza Finish Line Party, acted as an E-Experience stop/speaker, hosted a Quarter Mania, collected Veterans Banner applications, hosted sewer project update meetings, managed the Adopt a Garden program, held two Board of Directors meetings, hosted multiple downtown cleanup activities, held a Promotions Team meeting, sent out Early Bird membership materials, hosted a Design Team meeting, began Freedom Fest meetings, held a Business Enhancement meeting, finalized downtown sound system installation, housed Food Truck Friday vendors, and met with officials for PDGA Junior Worlds.

2nd Quarter Economic Development: Private and Public Projects initiated in the core had a monetary investment value of $6,182,404.33 (this number excludes events)

July- Held the Veterans Banner lottery drawing, conducted Board Training, met with Americorp officials, managed the Adopt a Garden program, held two Board of Directors meetings, hosted the summer Moonlight Madness, began the formal membership drive, acted as a Homegrown Celebration judge, attended the HOTT Annual Meeting, spoke to a Retired Government Workers group, held a Promotions Team meeting, held the Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting, hosted a Design Team meeting, provided E-Experience assistance with Emporia State University, held a Design Team meeting, generated voiceovers for the downtown sound system, hosted a Business Enhancement meeting, held multiple downtown clean ups, and produced new “Emporia” merchandise for sale.

August- Spoke at an AARP meeting, participated in the Flint Hills Technical College Student Engagement Event, held the Welcome Back Block Party for ESU and FHTC Students, managed the Adopt a Garden program, hosted two Board of Directors Meetings, conducted multiple downtown cleanups, held a Promotions Team meeting, participated in an Opportunity Zone educational session, hosted a Design Team meeting, spoke at a welcome activity for new teachers, held a Business Enhancement meeting, held a Speak Easy event, conducted Freedom Fest planning meetings, spoke at the Emporia State University new staff orientation, hosted sewer project update meetings, conducted Start Your Own Business Class planning meetings, met with Department of Commerce officials concerning the relaunch of Kansas Main Street, hosted a First Friday Art Walk artist, and provided a loan for Heritage Builders & Custom Furniture as they expanded into downtown Emporia.

September- Attended the Center On Rural Innovation (CORI) conference, worked with the Emporia Police Department to utilize the sound system for announcements, held the Great American Market, hosted two Board of Directors meetings, held a Quarter Mania, hosted a Promotion Team Meeting, conducted a How Its Made Tour, held a Design Team meeting, worked with the City of Emporia on potentially adding electric car charging stations downtown, hosted a Business Enhancement meeting, participated in a documentary for an Emporia event, held a Merchant to Merchant meeting, hosted a Board of Directors retreat, held Mix and Mingle for individuals new to the Emporia area, managed the Adopt a Garden project, and held multiple downtown clean up activities.

3rd Quarter Economic Development: Private and Public Projects initiated in the core had a monetary investment value of $2,035,400 (this number excludes events)

October- Held the Haunted Tours, launched the fall Start Your Own Business Class, hosted two Board of Directors meetings, hosted the Downtown Trick or Treat, held a Promotions Meeting, assisted Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow (HOTT) with their Dia de los Muertes celebration, hosted a Design Team meeting, participated in a CORI training, held a Business Enhancement Team meeting, worked with a developer on an infrastructure outreach project, assisted a local business and donor in procuring a downtown sculpture, worked with students on downtown cleanups and chalking, hosted a cyber security workshop, worked with the City of Emporia and ESU to display Veterans Banners, added our intern Aubrey to the staff, and hosted several groups in our conference room.

November- Acted as a “Community Champion” for Small Business Saturday with our inaugural “Elf Hunt”, held two Board of Directors meetings, facilitated incubator presentations, hosted a Promotions Team meeting, collected/cleaned Veterans Banners for storage, held a Design Team meeting, hung Christmas lights on downtown lamp posts, assisted with Freedom Fest, hosted a Business Enhancement meeting, assisted with Start Your Own Business classes, worked with potential investors on housing development programs, held the Public Improvement Auction, hosted some Opportunity Zone Meetings, compiled information for a Brookings study, authorized over $57,000 in loans for business startups/transitions, and launched the new Emporia Main Street website.

December- Sent soldier care packages overseas to area troops, participated in the Kansas Main Street relaunch, hosted some GBO/Cinco de Mayo planning meetings, held two Board of Directors Meetings, hosted a volunteer Christmas Party, hosted a Promotions Team meeting, conducted multiple site selection/finance meetings with potential developers, held a Design Team meeting, hosted the Start Your Own Business Class Graduation event, housed the Police Benefit Association in the incubator space for their food/toy drive, held the holiday Moonlight Madness, announced Trox Gallery and Gifts as our first incubated business (coming in 2020), held three Horse Drawn Carriage Ride nights, hosted a Quarter Mania event, worked with ESU on expanding the internship CII program, conducted some CORI research, added new Emporia merchandise for Christmas, hosted sewer project update meetings, applied for $17,500 in additional funding for a business startup, and wished our much beloved intern (Lanie) congratulations on her graduation from ESU.

Fourth Quarter Economic Development: TBA- We don’t have all of December’s information in quite yet.

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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