Main Street fi­nances down due to COVID

Mar­ket­ing cam­paign fundraiser for or­ga­ni­za­tion rolls out next month

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Tia Lyons Staff Writer

Main Street El Do­rado is ex­pected to roll out a new mar­ket­ing cam­paign next month.

Dur­ing an MSE board meet­ing Tues­day, Beth Brum­ley, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of MSE, said that much of Septem­ber has been con­sumed with work­ing with a con­sul­tant that was rec­om­mended by Main Street Arkansas to de­velop a fundrais­ing strat­egy to help MSE sur­vive the coro­n­avirus (COVID19) pan­demic.

Brum­ley and MSE board pres­i­dent Greg Withrow pre­vi­ously ex­plained that the MSE bud­get has taken a hit due to the can­cel­la­tion of sev­eral 2020 events be­cause of COVID-19.

They said MSE has not been able to host a fundrais­ing event since the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters’ ex­hi­bi­tion show that was held in

Fe­bru­ary in the Wild­cat Arena on the cam­pus of El Do­rado High School.

MSE was count­ing on its flag­ship fundraiser, Mu­sicFest, but be­cause of COVID-19, there were ques­tions about if the fes­ti­val would be held this year.

Those ques­tions were an­swered in early Au­gust when MSE and the Mur­phy Arts District, who part­ners with Main Street to present the fes­ti­val, an­nounced they had pulled the plug on Mu­sicFest 2020 and had resched­uled the event for Oc­to­ber 2021.

In an an­nual con­tract for ser­vices with the MSE, the city of El Do­rado pro­vides $35,000 to help fund the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor’s salary.

MSE kicks in $20,000 to help cover ben­e­fits, such as health in­sur­ance, and pay­roll taxes for the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor’s job.

“In the in­ter­est of full trans­parency, the (MSE) pro­gram is oper­at­ing off of money that was made in Fe­bru­ary and with the city’s con­tri­bu­tion, we have enough money right now to prob­a­bly make it un­til Fe­bru­ary 2021 if we don’t have an­other in­come-driven event,” Brum­ley pre­vi­ously said.

“If we don’t have any spe­cial events … About $8,500 a month is what our bills work out to be with pay­roll taxes, Wi-Fi (ser­vice that is pro­vided for the down­town area) and other things we do on a monthly ba­sis,” she con­tin­ued.

MSE also re­lies on cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships and com­mu­nity sup­port to op­er­ate its pro­gram, which uses the na­tional Main Street pro­gram’s Four Point ap­proach to­ward com­mu­nity trans­for­ma­tion and re­vi­tal­iza­tion, in­clud­ing eco­nomic vi­tal­ity, pro­mo­tion, de­sign and or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“So that’s why we got the con­sul­tant. We will work through a lo­cal ad agency — we’re not sure which one yet — and the con­sul­tant will help with the strate­gic plan and make sure we’re telling our whole story,” Brum­ley said last month.. “They’re more fa­mil­iar with the en­tire Main Street pro­gram and, specif­i­cally, the eco­nomic im­pact it has.”

She told MSE board mem­bers Tues­day, “We’ll do a pre­sen­ta­tion for y’all to see where we’re go­ing fi­nan­cially and what our mar­ket­ing cam­paign will be. So by mid-Oc­to­ber, we should be run­ning on all cylin­ders for that.”

In other busi­ness, Brum­ley said the 2020 Airstreams on the Square, which was held Sept. 10 13, was a suc­cess.

“The airstream­ers had a great time, as al­ways. We had good weather and the com­mu­nity still turned out for that,” Brum­ley re­ported.

The third an­nual event drew more than 30 campers from sev­eral states who camped out around the Union County Court­house for three nights.

Down­town

Airstreams on the Square is part of a na­tion­wide al­ter­na­tive camp­ing move­ment that pro­motes the Airstream life­style and the eco­nomic vi­tal­ity of small­town Amer­ica.

Since 2018, MSE has part­nered with the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs Airstream Club to host the event in El Do­rado. The in­au­gu­ral event was the first ever to be held in Arkansas.

COVID-19 changed up the event this year.

Airstream­ers typ­i­cally at­tend the an­nual SouthArk Out­door Expo, which is held on the grounds of the El Do­rado Con­fer­ence Cen­ter, two blocks south of the court­house, but the 2020 expo was can­celed be­cause of the public health cri­sis.

Tours of the campers were also scrapped this year.

How­ever, MSE board mem­bers planned an­cil­lary ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing a movie night and a sock hop/karaoke night, to help campers en­joy their stay in the city.

The public was in­vited to at­tend both events and fol­low COVID-19 safety guide­lines.

Brum­ley said ap­prox­i­mately 40 lo­cal res­i­dents at­tended the out­door show­ing of “Grease” on the night of Sept. 11 and though they could not tour the RVs this year, many res­i­dents vis­ited with airstream­ers and brought canned goods to sup­port a food drive the airstream­ers were host­ing.

The food went to the St. Mary’s Epis­co­pal Church food pantry.

Brum­ley said MSE is work­ing to ap­ply for a state grant that will fund a public art project, adding that Nov. 9 is the dead­line to sub­mit the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Pamela Grif­fin, MSE board mem­ber and pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of MAD, said MAD is work­ing with the city to hang new ban­ners on se­lected light poles down­town.

“Most of the ban­ners that are down there now are AstroZone ban­ners,” she said, re­fer­ring to the pop­u­lar, in­ter­ac­tive art ex­hibit that was on dis­play at MAD ear­lier this year.

“We’re putting up some new ban­ners. Some are gen­eral El Do­rado ban­ners, some are gen­eral MAD ban­ners and some are spe­cific to shows (for which tick­ets) are on sale,” Grif­fin said.

Added Brum­ley, “We’re work­ing with MAD to put up some ban­ners around The Hay­wood.”

Brum­ley noted that The Hay­wood bou­tique ho­tel, which is a part of the MAD en­ter­tain­ment com­plex, opened Sept. 9 in the block sur­rounded by South Wash­ing­ton, Cleve­land, Lo­cust and Cedar.

She also said Data­max, a tech­nol­ogy/of­fice equip­ment sup­ply busi­ness, opened its doors in June at 106 W. Main, Ste. 408, and a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony was planned for Wed­nes­day.

Brum­ley told MSE board mem­bers that Al­most Blond and Martha’s on the Square, both of whom oc­cupy the space that for­merly housed Larry’s Rex­all at 102 E. Elm, had done some paint­ing and in­stalled new awnings.

The com­mer­cial space that for­merly housed Mr. Tuxedo at 112 E. Elm is also un­der ren­o­va­tion, she said.

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