March 8, 2012
“They Made Main Street Their Own: How four women revived a derelict Mississippi town” is the headline in a March 8, 2012 New York Times article. It profiles four young women and their husbands who moved to Water Valley, Mississippi. Among them, the women have rehabbed three houses and one storefront. They have also brought new life to main street. It is a good story, and one that I highly recommend for anyone involved in economic and community development.
What is happening in Water Valley may be a good illustration of what can happen in small, rural towns that are losing population and have little hope of attracting a big industry. Now not every town has what Water valley has going for it. It is 25 miles from Oxford, Mississippi, where there is a good supply of creative people – even pioneers – who are attracted to nearby small towns that have seen better days. These creative people not only rehab buildings into grocery stores, art galleries, restaurants and retail shops, they bring other people to town for events at their businesses.
This story is one more example of what this thing called Mississippi’s Creative Economy is about. Fortunately, several state organizations, namely the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Main Street Association, are serving as resources and catalysts for small towns in Mississippi just waiting for a member – or four – of the creative class to arrive on the scene.