Paragould's 'One and Only' Downtown Springs Alive (Main Street Preservation | Winner, 20,000+)

Main Street Paragould, a nonprofit incorporation, aids the growth of Paragould’s burgeoning downtown district by assisting investors with opening new businesses, promoting those businesses, acting as a conduit between the local government and private investors, networking with other Main Street programs and even helping put on a zombie parade.

It’s why Paragould walked away as the winner of the 2013 Arkansas Business City of Distinction Main Street Preservation category for cities over 20,000.

Created in 1999 as an affiliate of the statewide Main Street Arkansas program, MSP found its footing with its “One and Only” plan for downtown Paragould, a plan that takes its name from the fact that there’s only one town in the world called Paragould, having been given its blended name as a compromise between railroad magnates J. W. Paramore and Jay Gould.

With that unique history of working together, Main Street Paragould offers a diverse number of roles in developing downtown. It answers intricate tax questions as well as offers ideas about interior design. Free services are offered to merchants and property owners such as networking with other Main Street affiliates. It connects local businesses with each other, acting as a conduit between property managers needing repairs and contractors looking for work. Even entities that make their home outside of the city limits keep a working relationship with MSP. The nonprofit keeps in touch with area banks and industries, making sure everyone stays involved and shares in the success of downtown’s development.

Main Street Paragould goes beyond just phone calls about city code. It also excels at planning and promotion, drawing people into Paragould’s core to enjoy shopping and dining. The “One and Only” is the site of many city events including Art & Stroll, Oktoberfest, Holiday Traditions, an annual Christmas parade, Perking on Pruett, Rummage at the Rains and even the largest zombie walk in the state of Arkansas.

Downtown Paragould is also home to the Collins Theatre, which stays booked with with stage productions, musical performances pageants, dance recitals and is home to KASU’s Bluegrass Mondays broadcasts.

These events are put together for fun, promotion and entertainment, but Main Street Paragould makes no secret of its true intent behind the events: to help remind, entice, invite and bring people into downtown Paragould to see what the district has to offer. Since MSP’s incorporation in 1999, 258 jobs have been added. Downtown has seen 28 new businesses and 54 expansions. The total investment through June 2013 adds up to $5.4 million in improvements, new construction and public improvement projects.

That kind of growth, both in jobs and dollars, shows that investing in downtown Paragould is paying off. The future for Main Street paragould and downtown is bright with growing businesses, residents living downtown and improved visual aesthetics. It inspires a confidence that Paragould’s Main Street area will continue to evolve, improve and attract visitors as well as investors.

Sue McGowan, Director of Economic Development and CEO of the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce, says the benefits of visitors coming into the city’s downtown district has had a ripple effect across the rest of the community.

“They come in to visit the Main Street area, there’s a good chance they’re going to visit other parts of our community,” she said. “They come in for a dining experience, we hope they’ll discover entertainment and shopping experiences in other parts of the city. MSP is very much an excellent partner.”