Amanda Pratt, a Sikeston native and graduate of Southeast Missouri State University with a bachelor's degree in history with a historic preservation minor, was chosen for the position following a three-month process that screened candidates from the four-state area. A McNair Scholar, Pratt is currently editing a book for publication later this year and has worked with the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson.
"I'm both honored and excited to be HMDG's first executive director," Pratt said. "From both an historic and retail perspective, our downtown has such potential. In my discussions with HMDG's members, I've witnessed their excitement and commitment to restoring Downtown's sense of place in the community. I'm very pleased to be a part of this effort."
"The focus of Amanda's responsibilities is to coordinate our downtown revitalization efforts," said HMDG Chairman Robin Pace. "We are an organization of volunteers working to improve the economic viability of Downtown Sikeston. Due to the amount and intensity of existing and future projects, we were in need of a full-time staff person to keep things in check."
"It's been a long process," said Jim Bucher, HMDG treasurer, "yet we've made a lot of headway since this all started in February 2005. That's when approximately 40 interested citizens, merchants, and city officials met with downtown revitalization specialists from the Missouri Department of Economic Development to see how to undertake this effort. Out of that meeting a core group was formed. Soon afterward the group formally committed to using the nationally recognized "Main Street" revitalization program and received professional assistance from Main Street Program mentors Gayla Roten of Branson and Bridgette Epple of Washington (Missouri)."
"Our goal is to fill every vacant storefront and lot with retail, restaurant or professional establishments," Pace said. "We want Downtown Sikeston to once again be a center for local activities, shopping and entertainment."
The Historic Midtown Development Group will conduct its Second Annual Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at the St. Francis Xavier Parish Center. Roten and Epple are returning as meeting facilitators.
Pratt can be contacted at HMDG's offices, located at 105 E. Center Street, Suite B, or by calling 380-3801.