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Year in Review 2017

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | December 26, 2017

Each year we take one e-news and dedicate it towards looking back over the previous year. We don’t want to linger in the past, but we do want to recognize what occurred as we continue to push forward. A lot was accomplished in 2017, and we anticipate a lot of excitement for new initiatives next year. The following is a brief look back:


Participated in the USDA Funding Workshop

Hosted Mix and Match

Coordinated multiple “Connect Emporia” events

Provided King Liquor with a business transition loan


Held our first ever “Speak Easy” event

Hosted a Social Media Workshop with ESU and EHS

Started Spring Semester internships for local businesses

Saw 923 Commercial finally sell!

Salsa Street Grill (a Start Your Own Business class graduate) opened

Produced a marketing table for the Sunflower Gymnastics Tournament


Held a “How It’s Made” tour

Assisted with the Longest Lunch event with EDBL

Assisted with the St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl

Hosted a Quarter Mania

Spoke to KSU Architectural Students

Sent Glass Blown Open media outreach packages

Created special St. Pats Emporia Shirts


Held “The Taste”

Hosted the GBO Block Party indoors (thanks to Mother Nature)

Assisted with the Kansas Craft Brew week launch event

Helped the Farmers Market with their new outdoor location selection and announcement

Produced new downtown vinyl wrap maps

Held a downtown cleanup

Was one of seven Main Street communities cited in the United States by National Main Street President, Patrice Frey, as part of her #realmainstreet initiative

Hosted a “Community Trek” with ESU

Participated as a judge in the Entrepreneurial Challenge

Worked with local groups on a downtown garden prep for the Adopt a Garden project

Created “Welcome Wagon” chalking for the GBO

Took Veterans Banners applications

Cited by the Brookings Institute as an example of sustainable development


Launched new “I Heart Emporia” shirts

Assisted HOTT with Cinco de Mayo planning and implementation

Assisted the Flatland Cruisers with their carshow

Conducted Dirty Kanza media outreach

Worked with Eat Drink and Be Local on the Plumb Place garden donation and announcement

Obtained a Network Kansas grant for a local business

Conducted EHS business tours

Created new comprehensive event calendars

Provided a startup loan to Big Ben’s Auto

Gave two presentations at the National Main Street conference

Hosted two summer “Work Study” interns with ESU

Provided business tours for students at Northern Heights High School


Created a new conduit for reporting Chronically Vacant Buildings

Presented to the City of Emporia during the Appropriations Process

Provided assistance to the Comprehensive Land Use plan team

Launched the new iteration of the “I’m a Main Streeter” testimonial campaign

Hosted the Dirty Kanza Finish Line Party

Coordinated the first dedicated “Kids Zone” for the Dirty Kanza


Started formal Membership Drive

Conducted the Veterans Banner lottery

Assisted ESU with E-Experience Coupons

Hosted the Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting

Conducted a Downtown Cleanup

Held voting on the Adopt a Garden project

Presented annual Main Street awards

Hosted Midnight Madness

Assisted with Summerfest (judging)

Assisted with Homegrown Celebration (judging)

Announced a new Mixed Use and a new Housing Development

Assisted as two new facade developments began

Held a special “behind the scenes” How It’s Made tour with the Emporia Zoo


Hosted the Back to School Block Party for ESU and FHTC Students

Held a Mix and Match for new community residents

Attended a Kansas Main Street training

Presented information to the planning commission on the Roosevelt Plaza & Lofts and the Legacy Lofts project

Announced the opening of European Antiques

Held a downtown cleanup

Hosted a two day tour with the National Main Street President

Participated in a Fab Lab educational tour


Held the Great American Market

Assisted with the Longest Lunch

Hosted a Quarter Mania

Presented information to the Flint Hills Regional Council

Held a Board Retreat

Placed on the National Main Street Education Committee

Presented to the ESU Leadership Class

Named one of the top seven places to “move to and open a business” by Forbes

Coordinated Fall CII Interns with ESU

Hosted a marketing analytics intern with ESU

Launched new gift certificate designs


Held Haunted Tours

Hosted Trick or Treat downtown

Held a “Beyond the Banners” release party

Promoted Tailgate and Open Late

Launched the Start Your Own Business class

Held an “Eek town costume contest”

Coordinated a Veterans Banners display downtown

Hosted a “Social Media 2.0” conference with ESU and EHS

Provided funding to 3 Fingers BBQ and promoted their “kitchen incubator”

Assisted with Oktoberfest

Held ESU Downtown Tours

Hosted two Emporia High School reunions on community tours

Launched the “Emporia Hearts Hops” special release shirt


Collected items for Soldier Care Packages and sent them overseas

Hosted the Start Your Own Business Class graduation

Held the Public Improvement Auction

Coordinated the downtown lamp post lighting

Promoted Small Business Saturday

Held the second annual “Sugar Stroll”

Wrapped doors and distributed information for Red Ribbon Merchants

Hosted Freedom Fest, with a new disc golf element (thanks Dynamic Discs) and new custom trophies (thanks FHTC Welding).

Worked with an ESU Photo intern

Featured in the Kansas Government Journal for the Veterans Banner project

Cleaned and stored all 258 Veterans Banners. Contacted first year sponsors for renewal.


Hosted Carriage rides

Held Midnight Madness

Hosted Quarter Mania

Provided Loan Funds for Xan-a-Do

Provided Loan Funds for Star Mart

Shot Red Ribbon Merchant videos

Launched the “Give a Gift” portion of Beyond the Banners

Hosted a “My Mainstreet” photo contest

Supervised the demolition of the interior of 727 Commercial Street

Released 2017 Monkey Island Christmas ornaments

Updated Historic Photo album

Participated in check presentations for Kiwanis and Plumb Place

We did a lot more than what is listed, but that is a good overview. Overall, we had about 12,000 volunteer hours donated. Solid work was provided by the Board of Directors, Promotions Team, Design Team, and Business Enhancement Committee. We can always do more, and we are looking forward to a hectic 2018 with a long list of “firsts” for the Emporia community (more on that in an upcoming 2018 preview e-news).

Thank you for all of your support. Without you, the list of accomplishments listed above simply wouldn’t be possible.

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.