The downtown association is one of 15 Main Street Communities that applied for the grants for 2020-2021 to incentivize development, improvement and revitalization in historic downtown business districts throughout Mississippi. Officials in Hattiesburg will use the funds to buy more hanging baskets and change the variety and color of the flowers in late October for the fall season.

“This is a huge help, particularly this year,” said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Downtown Hattiesburg Association. “We’ve got a very small budget, and we really try to stretch it as much as we can.

“But I wasn’t going to be able to buy the additional planters this year, had I not gotten this funding. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Saffle said she gets regular positive feedback on the hanging baskets, which officials have implemented for the past few years. That’s especially true this year, with the spring’s arrangements bringing some much-needed color during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The flowers were so pretty early into COVID, when they were purple and blooming and streaming over the sides,” Saffle said. “And even last spring, when we had the pansies in them and they had gotten so big and bloomed, everybody loved them.

“We’re looking forward for the weather to change a little bit, so that we can go ahead and get the new color in for the fall. I think it makes everybody happy, and it makes me happy when I come down Front Street and Main Street and see the pretty flowers. It surely brightens your day, especially in these times right now; it’s a little bright spot.”

MMSA Designated Communities were able to apply for individual funds of up to $2,500 with a required matching investment for shovel-ready brick and mortar projects as well as consulting services that may be used to carry out a designated community’s program of work. The Community Development Grant may be used for a wide range of projects as long as the project’s purpose supports the revitalization goals of the community.

Other cities receiving grant funding are Amory, Byhalia, Clinton, Columbus, Crystal Springs, Greenwood, Indianola, Kosciusko, Louisville, Okolona, Ripley, Senatobia, Tupelo and Woodville.

“MMSA is proud to award these communities with community development funds that will help them achieve successful projects in their downtown business districts,” MMSA state coordinator Thomas Gregory said. “We were able to expand our grant program this year thanks to the generous support of our public and private investors, which allows us to assist our communities with their downtown development projects and programs.”


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