Murals and More of Franklin, Tennessee completed this Seymour mural on the side of the Edward Jones building on the southeast corner of Tipton and Chestnut streets in October 2019. Staff photo by Jordan RIchart
Murals and More of Franklin, Tennessee completed this Seymour mural on the side of the Edward Jones building on the southeast corner of Tipton and Chestnut streets in October 2019. Staff photo by Jordan RIchart
It was a record-breaking year in 2019 for Seymour Main Street, and the organization is setting the bar even higher for 2020.

The group, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, is making plans for more investment in the downtown to help attract and retain businesses and bring more people into the community.

“Small business, small-scale development and small steps have definitely been leading to big things in downtown Seymour,” said Becky Schepman, who is in her third year as executive director of Seymour Main Street.

Volunteers are committed to working on several goals to improve downtown Seymour’s physical appearance, strengthen its economy and promote downtown events, she said.

Upcoming projects include another downtown mural, the addition of new kiosk signs, transforming a downtown alley into a pedestrian walkway, painting the Blish Milling Co. grain silos, new hanging flowerpots and the completion of the One Chamber Square streetscape renovations.

On Thursday, Schepman presented the nonprofit’s annual report to a full audience of Seymour Main Street members, volunteers and community leaders at city hall.

The organization, part of Indiana Main Street and now National Main Street, is responsible for promoting events and businesses, creating placemaking and beautification opportunities, fundraising and membership and attracting and keeping businesses downtown.

“We are here to promote, preserve and protect the downtown,” Schepman said.

One way Seymour Main Street is accomplishing its goals is through its economic vitality committee. That group works to provide financial opportunities for downtown merchants and building owners.

Programs include grants for new signage, awnings and building facades and some new initiatives to help with funding for windows and roofs.

“There were just some things that were really causing a hindrance as people were looking to buy a business downtown, so we worked hard to come up with a new program that’s a building renovation program, and it has been wildly successful,” she said.

Anthony Walker, chairman of the economic vitality committee, said a total of $161,000 in grants was awarded to help improve eight different downtown properties.

“We currently have grant requests for $40,000 for this year,” he said.

Schepman said recruiting new businesses and retaining current ones is really the mission that drives Seymour Main Street.

She highlighted new businesses, including Blush and Brush Beauty Bar, CPR Education, The Fussy Pup and Lot Hill Dairy Farm’s ice cream shop. Another new business, Vat and Barrel, will be opening this year, along with an escape room and Schwatzers, a German-themed restaurant.

In 2019, Seymour Main Street was selected to pilot the state’s Project IMPACT Main Street program and continues to work with Ball State University on collecting and using data for strategic marketing of the downtown in order to recruit new businesses.

“One of the goals is to get everybody to drink the Kool-Aid and see that the downtown is cool and it’s what the cool kids are doing,” Schepman said.

Seymour Main Street also rehabilitated two buildings damaged by fire in 2017 and has since sold them to a developer.

“We’re looking forward to some new businesses going in there,” she said. “That developer has also purchased The Tribune building, and we’ll be looking forward to some co-working space going in there.”

Another building that has sold is the former Quirky Living building at 109 W. Second St.

“It’s going to have some upper-level living added there, so we’re really excited to see that happening, as well,” Schepman said.

Creating more upper-level living space has always been a desire of Seymour Main Street, Schepman said, and its current grant and loan programs help support that initiative.

“That’s another thing we’ve seen that helps downtowns to thrive,” she said.

Brandon Hunsley, president of the Seymour Main Street board, talked about the group’s income and expenses for 2019 and its budget for 2020.

“We had a record year for Seymour Main Street in 2019 — our events, our campaign, record earnings,” he said. “This is the first year since I’ve been on board that we’ve had a membership campaign in excess of $20,000.”

The organization brought in a total of $332,615 in 2019, well above expected revenue of $297,000, and had expenses of $326,000. It currently has assets of around $388,000 in its operating budget and grant, loan and assistance programs.

A total of $200,000 came from the city’s redevelopment commission, and more than $50,000 was raised from the annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars event.

Hunsley said the design committee’s budget for 2020 is increasing about $32,000, and the economic vitality committee is planning to spend $100,000 for its new buildout program to assist people with renting or purchasing downtown buildings.

Seymour Main Street also is responsible for organizing several events throughout the year. They include the CityJam summer concert series, Soak up the Suds brewfest, Jingle All the 5K, Ghouls and Goblets, Downtown Shop Arounds and the Happy Glamper Show.

Hunsley said the organization is looking at projected expenses in 2020 of around $280,000.

“If everything goes according to plan, Main Street should end up with about $15,000 in reserve we can use for programs and specific line items this year,” he said. “I think your dollars are going a long, long way in the downtown.”
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