Seymour Main Street Wraps Up One Year, Ready for the Next.

Authored by Lori McDonald / Published January 2023
The Tribune

The board of directors of Seymour Main Street talked about this past year and offered a peek at what's to come this year during the nonprofit organization's annual meeting.

The mission of the organization, incorporated in 1999, is to plan, promote and preserve historic downtown Seymour.

During Thursday's meeting at Seymour City Hall, Executive Director Bri Roll said the primary words were "refresh" and "refocus" in 2022.

"Seymour Main Street had already developed a strong group of volunteers leading efforts to attract local residents and visitors to the downtown area and to support downtown businesses and organizations," she said. "However, those efforts needed to realign with a focused goal to make measurable effective economic transformation happen in downtown Seymour."

The organization successfully contracted with consultants from Viridis Group and Context Design in 2022, Roll said.

"We developed a streetscape master plan, which will guide our organization to take action steps toward implementing a cohesive foundational plan for our downtown," she said. "This plan includes identifying standard amenities so the downtown area will be defined through not only beautiful historic architecture but also synchronized site furnishings, like light posts, benches, trash cans and crosswalks."

She said there was a gain of 12 new businesses downtown in 2022, but unfortunately, three businesses closed and two businesses opted to relocate outside of the district.

Last year, Seymour Main Street partnered with more than 50 area businesses and organized 14 events, including the CityJam summer concert series, Soak Up the Suds brew fest, Jingle All the 5K, Ghouls and Goblets, Downtown Shop Arounds and the Happy Glamper vintage camper show.

Seymour Main Street was able to support a few other events with its partners, including the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department's golf outing and Tea for Two event, Seymour Noon Lions Club's annual Pig in the Park and Seymour High School mock interviews.

"We were able to present to the Mayor's Youth Council, Jackson County Young Professionals, Leadership Jackson County as well as Aisin," Roll said. "I was able to further education efforts by attending a P3 workshop through the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, which focused on public/private partnerships to accomplish property development."

Seymour Main Street also was selected as one of the communities to take part in a transformation strategies workshop, offered through the national organization Main Street America, which took place in June 2022. Results were used to feed into the streetscape plans.

"In the 2022 renovation category, we did see two spaces undergo significant rehabilitation, the first of which being the smaller single-story building on the corner of Tipton and Chestnut streets, which used to be an extended home of another campus for Jackson County Bank," she said. "It was purchased privately and has received a beautiful facelift and the interior has been redone, so we're just waiting on that to find its partner, and either one or two businesses could go into that space."

She said there also has been significant improvement in the three-story building that's located just south of city hall and was once the home of a barbershop.

"It's a three-story building where the architecture is beautiful but unfortunately had seen significant deterioration due to squatting and break-ins," Roll said. "That owner has completely restored the first floor and the basement and is now moving this year into the second and third stories to extend residential opportunities."

So far in 2023, Roll said she is already aware of four buildings that are undergoing renovation that will be activated this year as well as one building recently vacated in late 2022 that will now be reactivated with new tenants in 2023.

"In streetscape enhancements, we did see some new crosswalks in the downtown and really want to thank the city of Seymour, the city engineer, Bernie Hauersperger, and the department of public works," she said. "There's one right here in front of city hall and the other is the crosswalk commonly used for the farmers market, and we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community."

Roll said there also was significant repaving and repainting of downtown streets and repainting of curb and parking spaces.

As far as marketing efforts, the organization was able to support eight businesses with marketing and advertising grants in 2022.

"We have our reports almost finalized from last year, and with over 60 volunteers in Seymour Main Street, they've put forth over 1,000 volunteer hours in 2022, which translates to almost $30,000 in value," Roll said.

She said in 2022, there were more than 180 active members, which includes individuals, businesses and other nonprofit agencies, up from 152 in 2021 and 114 in 2020.

Shaney Smith"We were also able to extend the Main Street staff by gaining executive assistant Shaney Smith, who is wonderful and joined us in late 2022, and we're very excited to have her on board," Roll said.

She said Seymour Main Street uses a four-point approach with the following committees: Design, economic vitality, organization and promotion. There were several reports from those committees during the annual meeting.

Roll said 2022 paved the way for Main Street to concentrate on the word fulfillment for 2023, and each committee is dedicated to implementing the streetscape master plan with a focus on the identified transformation strategies.

Melody Hageman, chairwoman of the design committee, said the plans for this year are to do more flower planting in the pots placed in the parking lots and also some painting maintenance on the mural located on the side of the Edward Jones building along Tipton Street. Some of the mural has been damaged.

Jason Bukowski, who also is a board member, gave the report for the economic vitality committee. He said some of the rehab, construction and rebuilding of downtown buildings is partially funded by grants issued by the committee.

Through Thursday's meeting, the organization had awarded more than $115,000 to 16 downtown businesses. Six received funds for buildouts, five for awnings, fa├žades and/ or signage, two for rental assistance and three for roof stabilization.

"As we look forward to 2023, we have a budget again this year of $125,000 for our grants and special projects and have already received some applications, which we appreciate and will be reviewing soon," Bukowski said.

Brian Terrell, chairman of the promotion committee, said some attendance at Main Street events was down in early 2022 due to effects of COVID-19. That changed by mid-year, and by the end of the year, numbers were up to pre-COVID status and surpassing those numbers, he said.

Treasurer and board chairwoman Leah Branaman talked about the work of the organization committee, which includes filling board vacancies.

"Our board took on Jessica Nierman to fill a position for us, and we also just recently brought on Jordan Richart from the Jackson County Visitor Center," she said, noting there are two open board positions to be filled.

Branaman said the biggest and most exciting accomplishment from the committee was hiring Smith as executive assistant, which was needed because the organization has been growing, and she brings a lot to the table.

She also gave the 2022 financial review and said Main Street was able to meet the budget last year and even saw a surplus due to a couple of factors, the first one being the annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars, which is the biggest fundraiser.

"It's usually held once a year, but due to COVID restrictions, we had two Dancing with the Stars events in 2022," Branaman said. "The one for 2021 was pushed back and held in January 2022, so we had double the fundraising efforts there, which was very nice."

Another factor for the budget surplus was a $50,000 grant the organization received from the city of Seymour to compensate for the 2021 events that didn't occur because of the pandemic.

Branaman said there was a trend in 2021 and 2022 of an increase in memberships, which shows business owners and the people in the community are seeing the value of Seymour Main Street and want to be part of it.

She said Seymour Main Street has set a general campaign goal of $32,000 for the 2023 budget.

"We have two new events planned for this year, and one is a Kids Christmas Stroll, and coming up very soon is a Bourbon Night event added, as well," Branaman said.
The proposed officers for 2023 are already serving in those roles from the previous year: Melissa Acton, president; Tyler Thias, vice president; Branaman, treasurer; and Hageman, secretary.

There also was special recognition for outgoing board members Monica Hartung and Ashley MacTavish.