HATTIESBURG/JACKSON (June 16, 2023) — Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated the achievements of Mississippi Main Street communities yesterday during its annual meeting and awards luncheon, where Hattiesburg was recognized with two statewide awards. Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) earned the Outstanding Public Arts Project award for its contributions to the HBURG Public Art Trail, and VisitHATTIESBURG’s Marlo Dorsey was presented with the Main Street Revitalization Champion award.


“Each year, the Annual Awards Luncheon highlights the people, projects, and initiatives that drive economic development in Mississippi’s Main Street communities,” said Thomas Gregory, MMSA executive director. “Our local Main Street programs are strategic in their downtown revitalization work, and we are proud to recognize their accomplishments over the past year.”


The Outstanding Public Arts Project Award recognizes public art endeavors that have deliberately integrated arts and culture into community revitalization work. The winning project must show how it enhances the quality of life for residents, increases creative activity, and creates a distinct sense of place.


HAPA won the Outstanding Public Arts Project award for its contribution of nearly 100 pieces of art to the HBURG Public Art Trail. The HBURG Public Art Trail was unveiled in March 2021 and includes nearly 50 murals, dozens of sculptures, and 44 painted utility boxes, which are located throughout the city in high-traffic areas and neighborhoods. The Trail, which has an accompanying brochure, digital map, web page, and branded signage, has had hundreds of thousands of visitors and received international media coverage since its official launch as a coordinated public art initiative.


“As a premier city in the Gulf South, we continue to set the bar on displaying the talent that exists in and outside of our community through public art” said Mayor Toby Barker. “Mural by mural, structure by structure - the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art and initiatives like the Public Art Trail expand the quality of life of our community while telling stories that are richly tied to our culture and way of life. It’s special, and we’re all proud.”


In addition to HAPA’s recognition, VisitHATTIESBURG Executive Director/CEO Marlo Dorsey was named the 2023 Main Street Revitalization Champion for her work creating a sustained positive economic impact on Mississippi Main Street communities. Serving as the incoming president of the Mississippi Main Street board of directors and advocacy chair, Dorsey’s strategic support has helped to secure $68 million in ARPA recovery funds for both statewide tourism and Main Street entities since the pandemic.


“I am humbled by this recognition from Mississippi Main Street Association. Downtowns are the heartbeat of any great city, and it has been my honor to work alongside all our Main Street communities to focus on revitalization and economic development,” said Dorsey. “In Hattiesburg, we continue to build on our strategic vision for the future, gaining momentum as we share Hattiesburg’s story with both visitors and residents.”


During the luncheon, the 2023 Nationally Accredited Main Street programs were recognized, including downtown Hattiesburg.


“Downtown Hattiesburg continues to see tremendous growth and community support, thanks in large part to beautification efforts as well as strong partnerships between DHA, tourism, and the public and private sectors,” said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Downtown Hattiesburg Association. “We are thrilled that Hattiesburg is being recognized at the statewide level again this year as a thriving Main Street community.”


Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) is the catalyst for the preservation and economic revitalization of Mississippi’s historic downtowns and traditional commercial districts. As a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program, MMSA helps lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of more than 40 Coordinating Programs and over 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. For more information about MMSA, visit 


In 2022, Mississippi Main Street's Designated Communities generated 495 new businesses, 56 business expansions, 841 new jobs, 183 building rehabilitations, and 1,817 downtown residential units. In addition, 79 public improvement projects were completed as well as 24 new construction projects in downtown business districts. More than $242 million was invested by the public and private sectors in 2022, and more than 42,255 volunteer hours were recorded.