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The Homegrown Initiative

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | November 17, 2017
Emporia Main Street (EMS) is an economic and community development philosophy that operates within the City of Emporia and Lyon County. Using an effective four point approach, adopted from the National Main Street Center, Emporia Main Street works to create a dense and sustainable community where business, properties, developments and people can thrive. After 26 years, Emporia Main Street needs a new home. Our New Space will grow local business and employment in Emporia, foster entrepreneurship, and innovate to build a stronger community
The Home Grown Campaign
Located at 727 Commercial, directly across Commercial Street from the Granada Lofts, the new EMS space will house the EMS Business Incubator, Dirty Kanza 200, and the Emporia Main Street offices.
1. The location provides a premier space for the Business Incubator program. The visibility on

Main Street, the access to parking, and the technology incorporated into the new space will give a start-up business 18 months to create a viable and sustainable business before moving to an appropriate existing space.

2. Business incubator programs have proven to be powerful tools in communities with the size and dynamics of Emporia. Homegrown businesses have the benefit of local control, decision making and investing more robustly in the life of the community they call home.
3. Dirty Kanza 200 has become an Emporia brand thanks to the thousands it draws annually to its signature event-the Dirty Kanza 200-and its growing national and international presence. The EMS New Space will be home to this organization which makes an annual economic impact of more the $3 million in Emporia and the region. Its home in the space serves to add a more professional atmosphere that will improve connectivity with national companies that will impact the regional economy.
4. The growth of Emporia Main Street programs requires larger and more functional space and access to a modern office environment. As an advocate and facilitator for community development, the new location will meet future needs of EMS as we grow beyond the more than $94 million of investments that have occurred in downtown Emporia since Emporia Main Street’s formation.
EMS has raised $700,000 toward our $750,000 campaign goal.  This includes a dollar-for-dollar matching gift opportunity for up to $80,000 to help us close the final gap of funds needed. All gifts received between now and December 31, 2017 will be applied to our matching opportunity.
Ways to make a charitable gift
A fund has been established at the Emporia Community Foundation to accept and direct funds to the Emporia Main Street Home Grown campaign. EMS’s annual operations are funded through individuals and business membership programs, special event fundraising, major gift solicitation, and city and county support.
Cash can be pledged over five years.  All cash donations made by December 30th, 2017 match a City and County allocation dollar per dollar up to $80,000.  To make a gift by check and complete a pledge form please stop by the current Main Street Office at 12th East 5th. To make a gift electronically, CLICK HERE.
Important: If you wish to receive a tax receipt for your online donation, make sure to check the box that says “Share my mailing address with Emporia Community Foundation” when prompted. 

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.