Rooney Eyes Downtown Revitalization

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Meridian Main Street has a new executive director. The search for a new leader started when John McClure accepted a job as the city's new community development director a couple of months ago.

Karen Rooney has been hired to continue the vision of revitalizing the downtown area.

Rooney is originally from New Orleans and has a marketing and art background. She says she's excited about continuing the revitalization efforts of Meridian's great downtown area.

"To have, instead of empty buildings, full buildings, you know, businesses down here that aren't here currently as well as the ones here, being thriving," said Rooney. "Having people on the street walking around having the energy and excitement. People living life as opposed to viewing life on a screen."

Rooney says although the biggest challenge of the Main Street program will be securing the resources to make everything happen, she's meeting with city and county officials as well as education and tourism leaders so everyone can work together to make things happen.

For instance, she'd like to work with MSU to create an economic incubator for small business. And another thing she'd like to see is a literary festival in downtown Meridian.

"I have a plethora of ideas of things I want to do, so I am very excited about it, and I am just really thrilled about the opportunity to do something positive for Meridian," said Rooney.

Rooney says the upcoming arts and entertainment center for the state will mean big things for downtown.

"You bring in something that big, and it will be the catalyst that will really move us forward to, therefore, all these things that we've been putting in place will have the kick-off that they need to really go," Rooney said.