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Becky Nowell named Main Street Hero Featured

Cleveland Main Street took home the trophies Thursday morning at the Mississippi Main Street Awards. The Mississippi Main Street Association celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 29th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson. MMSA Board President Ed Gardner and MMSA Past President Allison Beasley presented awards to recipients from local Main Street programs throughout the state. The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.  Clevelander Becky Nowell received the Main Street Hero Award for all of her hard work in the community and specifically for the 50 Nights of Lights event she initiated. When it comes to service to Cleveland, Nowell has made her mark. In addition to serving as Cleveland's first lady, Nowell serves on many boards including Team Cleveland, Chamber, Grammy Museum MS President, Crosstie Arts Council, and many more. In 2017, when her best friend Lucy Janoush passed away, as a tribute to Lucy's love of Christmas, Nowell put together a committee set out to raise money to purchase holiday decorations to display downtown. In a few months, she raised over $250,000 and in fact not a single business told her no. Nowell's idea for adding lights to downtown Cleveland blossomed into an event called 50 Nights of Lights. Thanks to her hard work, thousands of people flooded into Cleveland for the holidays, giving an economic boost to the city. Nowell said, "It's really a group effort. It took a lot of people, my committee and the people that helped and donated displays but also Ray Bell's team. They did all of the work and I feel like I'm accepting this for our community. "One thing I want to say is, when the Janoush family donated the (Christmas) tree downtown, it dawned on me what we could have. The way Cleveland is set up, you can drive south on Cotton Row then North on Sharpe Street, we had the perfect set up to become a destination place to come look at Christmas lights," she said. "We formed the committee and had to come up with a plan, which was really important. We were all over the place because there were so many things to look at. We came up with the theme of music to fit our Grammy museum and DMI at Delta State. Then we added Candy Land and celebrating the depot and train museum. The south end is for larger decorations," she said. The committee has once again raised over $200,000 for the upcoming Christmas season. "You'll see a lot of new things on the south end to fill in some gaps. We're looking forward to get it all in place and see what we need next. We hope to expand and add every year," she said. Team Cleveland was honored for Outstanding Creative Fundraising for the Cleveland Bites Food Festival and Tasha Huerta accepted the award. The Cleveland Bites Food Festival is an annual event that was created in 2014. This event was created as a partnership between Team Cleveland and Keep Cleveland Boring as a way to bring together all of the area restaurants and showcase their menu items. Restaurants and caterers can serve food but anyone is invited to attend. The admission fee is $15 and with that participants will get to sample food from all of the participating restaurants. More than 200 people attend the event. The event gives people a chance to try food from restaurants they may not normally visit. This is a great marketing tool for restaurants. One hundred percent of proceeds from this event will go to start a facade grant program for Cleveland. This helps provide assistance to merchants and businesses that want to do repairs to the exterior of their building and is a competitive grant process. Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said, "I'm extremely proud of all the hard work Becky has done and proud of Team Cleveland for the if award they got. It’s a great reflection on Cleveland the way people work together and put so much back into our town.
“I feel honored to receive this award on behalf of Keep Cleveland Boring, it feels good to be recognized for all the work that we put into our events. We are glad to be able to partner with Team Cleveland Main Street to keep Cleveland anything but boring. Our purpose of KCB is to entertain, and I would say that the Cleveland Bites festival definitely served that up! Thank you to Cleveland for supporting KCB,” said Huerta. Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, "It's a great opportunity to showcase the people who spend a lot of time working to make our community better." "This is the Mississippi Main Street Association’s most important event of the year," said Ed Gardner, MMSA Board President. "It gives us an opportunity to meet with and celebrate the local directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive, successful and sustainable." "We are thrilled to honor our economic development and preservation heroes in Mississippi's downtowns," Gardner said. Since 1993, Mississippi Main Street Association has generated more than $5 billion in private and public investment, including more than $1.2 billion in public investment. In 2017, Mississippi Main Street programs generated 325 net new businesses, 95 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,458 net new jobs, 109 façade rehabilitations and 86 downtown residential units.  MMSA currently has 48 active Main Street cities throughout the state, six Downtown Network members, and numerous Associate, Allied professional members, and Friends of Main Street.   

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