For the uninitiated, MMSA is a comprehensive revitalization program that promotes the historic and economic revitalization of traditional business districts in the state. With less than a year on the job, MMSA executive director and state coordinator Stacy Pair said her first few months have been rewarding but not without challenges.
The cost of certification is $10,000 for the first year and tapers down to $2,000 annually after the fourth year.
Mayor Rex Smith said that becoming a certified Main Street community will unite his town of 4,500.
Pair believes the important role that historical preservation plays in the Main Street program sometimes gets lost.
Prior to becoming executive director, Pair served as MMSA’s Southern District director, working with 21 certified Main Street associations from Jackson to Gulfport. Restorations and conversions of historic buildings across Mississippi stalled when the state ran out of historic tax credits are back in motion with the Legislature’s $60 million replenishment of the credits. The $60 million allocation is for five years and limits the state credits to $12 million annually.
Barnes noted the new allocation will allow developers to move forward with commercial projects such as conversion of the vacant Eastland Federal Courthouse in downtown Jackson to mixed-use and the conversion of the former Veterans Hospital in Gulfport to a resort hotel and mixed-use development.
Property owners and developers whose projects qualify for the credits can use them to defray 25 percent of the cost, primarily for construction, of a historic preservation. Legislators were unwilling to say why they insisted on limiting the allocations, according to Dent. While Dent figures a number of projects are already certified for the credits and will soon begin taking them, he said he thinks the amount of credits available will be sufficient to allow new commercial projects to move into the pipeline.
Recipients do not get the credits until the project is completed, but credits are designated as eligibility milestones are met. Like Dent, Jim Woodrick, director of historic preservation for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, expects the tax credit allocation is sufficient to allow new projects to move from the drawing boards to actual construction. The Hertz Investment Group plans to promptly seek certification for preservation credits that are a key to converting downtown Jackson’s Regions Building, once the home of Deposit Guaranty, to apartments. Barnes, the Heritage Trust chief, said the decision to keep non-revenue producing residential restorations from eligibly diminishes an holistic approach to preserving Mississippi’s past. Dent said he expects the exclusion of single-family dwellings from the historic tax credits will have particular impacts in such historic cities as Vicksburg and Natchez. Downtown is full of small businesses, and this week those businesses are being highlighted nationally. The speaker for the webinar will be John Shapiro, director of product management and payments for Intuit Quickbooks. Other webinars held this week covered voluntary benefits, the decline of magstripe cards, apps and services that will help grow a business, and capital and business loans. Carly Wilbanks of New Albany, MS, has been named the director of the New Albany Main Street Association. The New Albany Main Street Association was designated a Mississippi Main Street Community in 1997.
Wilbanks attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology.
Wilbanks served as the event coordinator for the Special Olympics at MSU and has experience in retail sales and fundraising.
Since New Albany was designated as a Mississippi Main Street Community, over $1.6 million in private investments and nearly $9 million in public investment have been reported. In addition to being named one of the top Main Street programs in the state, the New Albany Main Street Association boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates state-wide and contributed to 92 new businesses and 227 new jobs. For more information about the New Albany Main Street Association, please call (662) 534-3438. When it comes to food, it doesn’t get any better than fresh, locally produced products. The Mississippi Farmers Market is held inside an 18,000 square foot building, making it one of the largest in the state. Definitely not your usual farmers market, the Starkville Community Market offers cooking and gardening demonstrations, how-to sessions, kids activities, live music, and more. Located in the historic town square, this farmers market is opened every Saturday between April 23rd and October 29th, from 8 am – 1 pm. Reopening less than a year after Hurricane Katrina, this farmers market has truly flourished over the years, and now includes fresh produce, Country Girls Creamery dairy products, pies, breads, jams, jellies, Ms.
This farmers market, which is held in the parking lot of the Olive Branch City Hall, is scheduled to open at 8 am on June 4th, and will continue to be open every Saturday through September 24th. Held at the Corinth Depot, this seasonal market attracts local farmers, gardeners, artisans, and craftsmen, resulting in an impressive variety of merchandise. For the past 13 years, this market has been bringing locally grown fruits and vegetables to downtown Hattiesburg.
Located on Old Canton Road, this permanent fixture is the place to go for fresh produce year-round. Opening at the end of April, this Pontotoc farm features an on-site farmers market, which sells fresh produce and plants that are grown right on the farm. Whether you’re looking to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables or actually want to pick your own, Prospect Produce Farm has got you covered. Although the 2016 schedule has yet to be announced, preparations for Vicksburg’s spring and summer farmers market are already underway. Beginning on May 7th, the much-anticipated Mid-Town Farmers Market will be opened on Saturdays from 7 am - 11 am and on Wednesdays from 8 am – 1 pm. In compiling the list, the Smithsonian utilized geographical information from Esri to identify towns with populations under 20,000 which were within driving range of a national park of a designated National Park Service location.
I don’t often make things personal in public, but, as I considered what I wanted my Main Street family to hear, it seemed appropriate.
1977 began my teaching career at Northeast Jones High School, and I found my way back to downtown to help Clinton Harrington Piano Co.
In 1989, I returned to teaching, this time at Watkins High School, and worked in the Laurel school district until finishing my music educator career at Nora Davis Magnet School in 2002. Home Town will feature Laurel as a main character, and we are all players on this stage for a season. Mississippi Main Street Association focuses on economic development and revitalization of Mississippi’s historic business districts. Mississippi Main Street Association currently has offices in Jackson, Columbus, Oxford and Gulfport. Imagine that your friends who have come in town to visit, stayed overnight at the beautifully restored Art Deco masterpiece, the Threefoot Building, in one of the new Courtyard by Marriot suites. Your daughter, who is attending the School of Kinesiology at MSU downtown, joins you for the parade, which you view from the balcony of her new BellSouth Building apartment, which faces the beautifully decorated city hall lawn.
You try to remember what it looked like just five years earlier, and it all seems a distant gloomy memory. The next day, after having breakfast at one of the new coffee shops, you show off the new magnificent wonder, the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, to your out of town friends. After experiencing a taste of all the arts of Mississippi, you have a lively discussion concerning where you are going to have lunch, because there are so many options.
After lunch, you indulge in some serious shopping, marveling at how many new stores there are, as well as how many have become downtown traditions, such as The Liberty Shop, Loeb's, and LaBiche. In addition 26 new privilege licenses were granted and an additional $14 million was invested by property owners during 2015.
In January, Mississippi Main Street conducted the Backstage Pass Conference in Meridian for Main Street managers across Mississippi, as well as other event planners. Meridian Main Street has been providing support to the local developers and business owners as part of an Economic Development Program, as well as creating events that bring thousands to downtown Meridian. Meridian Main Street's Promotional Program creates events designed to improve our quality of life, rekindle community pride, improve consumer and investor confidence in our downtown commercial district, and create awareness and excitement about downtown. Our Economic Restructuring Program strengthens our existing economic assets, while diversifying our economic base.
The goal of our design program includes getting Main Street into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors. The Meridian Main Street Board includes Alisha Bailey, Von Burt, Bubba Hannah, Ron Harper, Beverley Hearn, Dustin Hill, Robb Hudson, Tricia LaBiche, Terri McKelviane, Reginald Mnzava and Buster Thomas. Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith began lobbying for the town to join the Mississippi Main Street Association about a year ago. Saltillo formally became the 52nd member of the Mississippi Main Street Association Tuesday morning.
Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith pushed for the city to join MMSA and wants to find a way to pull together the traditional downtown of Mobile Street along with the new business corridor of Highway 145. The mayor wants the city to tap into folks passing through or close by the city of 4,500 people. The cost of joining MMSA is steep on the front end – $10,000 for the first year tapering down to $2,000 annually after the fourth year. According to MMSA, designated Main Street communities receive a minimum of $25,000 in technical assistance during the first year alone. As part of that commitment Smith says the city has already hired a Main Street Director, Lindsey Hines. But, officials admit that the Main Street designation, like the growing business sector, has not happened over night.
Main Street officials say the program provides technical, architectural, and other services.
They say Saltillo is now part of a network of some 1,800 Main Street members across the country. Biloxi is one of 10 cities chosen nationwide that will benefit from the vision and knowledge of experienced planners with the Main Street program.
At a city hall news conference Thursday afternoon, the visitors talked about their favorable impressions of Biloxi and the promise and possibilities they see for future progress. Biloxi is uniquely positioned to draw upon its history and geographic location to enhance both tourism and economic development. At a city hall news conference Thursday afternoon, the visitors talked about their favorable impressions of Biloxi and the promise and possibilities they see for future progress and economic development.
The planners will take their suggestions and compile them into a report that will be presented during a future visit in the next 18 months.
Many small town success stories have a difficult time making it past the city limits, but one Mississippi-based documentary film company recently made the first step at changing how these tales of success are told. At the Oxford Film Festival last weekend, Blue Magnolia Films introduced four short documentaries that depict how Mississippi small-town businesses are revitalizing and inspiring their communities. So with the help of state agencies like the Mississippi Main Street Association, Mississippi Film Office, the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission, the couple set out to make 25 films highlighting small-town success stories leading up to the state’s bicentennial in 2017.
One of those business owners, Andy O’Bryan, founder of Yalobusha Brewing Company in Water Valley, spoke about how his company started out from scratch and has grown to selling beer throughout the entire state and in Louisiana and, most recently, Tennessee.
The panel elicited numerous questions from the audience who engaged the entrepreneurs with inquiries about their businesses, and it was just what Griffin and Fast wanted. As Griffin and Fast complete the remaining films in the series, they do so with the mission of spotlighting the small-town success stories that are transforming and inspiring the state of Mississippi.
Kathy LaPlante, Senior Program Officer with the National Main Street Center, and Kennedy Smith, who is best known as the longest-serving director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center, will be conducting the Biloxi Refresh program.
The two days will consist of a tour of the district and community, strategizing sessions with city officials and will close on Thursday with a Press Conference at Biloxi City Hall at 1 p.m. The communities selected will receive 12 to 18 months of free hands-on technical and community assistance from experts nationwide, funded by the John S. Saltillo Community Director Lindsey Roper Hines will direct the Saltillo Main Street program. The two-day conference allowed leaders from various communities both local and state wide, to work together by sharing ideas on how to help their towns grow, but is also brought together professional exhibitors and creative and preforming artists so they can showcase what they have to offer. This conference not only impacts towns across the state, it also impacts our local community. At the end of the day every piece of knowledge learned will help build local community character and help community leaders contribute to the creative economy and the quality of life.
A mural greets residents and guests at the mouth of Main Street in Water Valley, Mississippi.


Hundreds of them sent blue collar working men and women flocking to the Houston area to cash in… literally. Lafayette County already has its version of Houston (Oxford) and we swell and relax as the seasons change and as our UM students dictate. The vigorous downtown development mission (Water Valley Main Street Association) perpetually works to improve the area, spur economic development and provide a plethora of entertainment opportunities for residents and its cousins from the north (Oxford). Arguably, one of the most essential proponents of the Boom Town blitz is 10-year Valley resident Kagan Coughlin who has in the past few years dumped a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources into several ventures in the Main Street district (more on these below). Down the street from the galleries, new dining and drinking establishments have popped up as well. The extremely popular Crawdad Hole (restaurant) opened in 2011 and features seafood and Cajun and Creole foods, definite favorites anywhere you venture in North Mississippi. Reaching deep into its versatile genre art bag, Water Valley Main Street attracts history buffs in droves to the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum located across the street from the Yalobusha Brewing Co.
Many of those communities have distinctive downtown thoroughfares, chock full of awe-inspiring historical architecture, eclectic businesses and hometown pride. According to the National Main Street Center website, the movement collectively is the nation’s leading voice for preservation-based economic development and community revitalization.
MSM staff members collaborate with interested cities and towns, making sure they have a sustainable budget and proper training. Designated Main Street communities also receive an approximated value of $25,000 in technical assistance during the first year alone. The small community near Tupelo became the 52nd member of the Mississippi Main Street Association in March.
Immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she served as chair of former governor Haley Barbour’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Preservation Task Force. Unlike the initial $60 million allocation in 2006, the new round of credits excludes non-revenue producing residential properties.
They become especially attractive when combined with the 20 percent federal historic tax credits. He agreed they may have wanted to ensure the credits would last for their five-year authorization. The Mississippi Main Street Association focuses on economic development and revitalization of Mississippi's historic business districts. While the financial investment is an important component, Main Street programs are better known for improving quality of life for communities. Located on High Street in Jackson, the market is currently open every Saturday from 8 am – 2 pm. The annual event takes place at Fire Station Park and is held twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from May through August. Check out the Green Market for yourself the first Saturday of the month from April through November. This year, patrons will be treated to another great selection of merchandise as well as donation based yoga classes and live music. Among the fruits and vegetables, customers can peruse Freshway’s large selection of sauces and other condiments, including Mississippi honey and locally made barbecue sauces. Held in downtown Cleveland on Cotton Row, the market attracts vendors and farmers, selling everything from produce and dairy products to baked goods and pickled vegetables. Be sure to check the Vicksburg Farmers Market Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. In addition to a variety of vendors, this farmers market offers fun for the entire family, including a Children’s Day and live music. I coordinated with NBC throughout this time, lobbied the legislature, and spoke to districts encouraging them to walk out.
I was offered a job directing the Whole Schools Initiative; I literally laughed in the face of the person making the offer.
That’s what I told Ben and Erin Napier when they were presented this unbelievable chance with HGTV.
Then all of your friends enjoyed the Meridian Main Street Mardi Gras events all afternoon, and end the evening by attending one of the many live music venues downtown.
Exhausted from shopping, the kids clamor for ice cream at one of the new ice cream parlors. The future is looking very bright for 2016, with exciting plans for 16 buildings in downtown. There are city leaders, county leaders, individual investors, developers and business leaders who have championed the revitalization of downtown Meridian. Events such as Mardi Gras, Merry Meridian, Earth’s Bounty, Candy Crawl, Kid’s Art Crawl, and the Just Start It! All of this activity brings vitality to downtown and has encouraged development and investment.
This is accomplished by retaining and expanding successful businesses and attracting new businesses that the market can support.
MMS has been working with public works on street lighting and working with the police to make sure there is adequate police presence downtown. Our organization goes way beyond our employees, Karen Rooney and Debby Delshad, and intern. 7, John Tampa officially received the keys to the art deco masterpiece, the 16-story Threefoot Building. While he asked to join as an associate member, the Saltillo Board of Alderman decided to spend the extra money to become a full member. In the coming months, officials with the state organization will spend plenty of time in Saltillo, trying to develop a strategy to help the town. A traffic study showed 13,000 cars a day travel Highway 145 and another 40,000 pass by on U.S. Since 1993, MMSA has provided more than $4 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities.
Eventually, O’Bryan wants to market his product in every state that has a Southeastern Conference football program. And by spreading the word through film, they fully expect these documentaries to make a difference in small towns.
Festivals and events that take place along main streets in downtown communities help not only spur economic development but promote tourism. With over a dozen Meridian event planners and organizers in attendance all with the goal of learning how to make our Queen City prosper.
Old Fashioned Grocery on Main Street is yet another Water Valley jewel that must be seen… as well as tasted (see photos and video below). Housed on the site of the former Illinois Central Railroad Depot, the museum is open Thursday-Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
A selection panel judges the process and eventually decides whether a community is ready for certification.
Additionally, Saltillo joins a network of some 1,800 Main Street members across the nation.
But he expects the $12 million cap on yearly allocations to destabilize overall restoration efforts, considering the multi-year undertaking most restorations involve. The Vicksburg Main Street Program has joined in on the fun by showing webinars created by the Small Business Administration. Downtown revitalization promotes restoring those places that make New Albany unique that people connect to as well as fostering a vibrant business climate in the historic core of the town.
The New Albany Main Street Association is a community partner with the Magnolia Civic Center, Union County Historical Museum, Junior Auxiliary, Biscuits and Jam Farmer's Market, Union County Development Association, New Albany Tourism, and numerous organizations. From one of the largest farmers markets in the state to those that are located on actual farms, these 13 Mississippi farmers markets are a must visit.
The Hattiesburg Farmers Market is held in Town Square Park on Thursdays from 3 pm – 6 pm. You-pick blackberries and muscadines are available when in season, so be sure to check with the farm before your visit.
I filmed TV commercials, co-hosted radio shows, did voiceovers, hosted street dances and battles of the bands and talent nights, and got all my choral friends to bring their choirs downtown to usher in the holidays.
Laurel Main Street is working hard to make sure we are all as ready as we can be, and some interesting changes will arrive soon. Pair of Gulfport, Miss., has been named the State Coordinator for Mississippi Main Street Association. 2015 ended with façade enhancements, complete building restorations and new and exciting plans for 19 neglected buildings!
MMS is working directly with developers and building owners to help them move their projects forward. When you walk downtown and see beautiful, large flower urns, you can thank the Design Committee. They are also renovating the Standard Coffee building, on the corner of Constitution and Front Street for Yates Construction.
Leaders from across Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana were doing just that, learning how to build and grow successful festivals and events in various home towns.
The Crawdad Hole is open Thursday-Sunday and can be found on Facebook where they post weekly specials and other gems.
Downtown is often referred to as the heart of the town, the part that encourages newcomers to visit or move to and locals choose to remain here. Some of the many visible projects as a result of the New Albany Main Street Association's efforts include decorative lighting, banners, landscaping, the Tanglefoot Trail plaza, benches, trash receptacles, Cooper Park design and maintenance, and decorative street signs. For several years now, MMS has been consistently promoting and helping to develop downtown.
Each of these events, as well as individual stories about the low crime statistics for downtown, has kept downtown in the spotlight.
Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district. This beautification project for downtown includes more than 30 large flower urns displayed in front of participating businesses. The graduation will bring together hundreds of students, parents, professionals and leaders from the state of Ohio and national leaders in education.A Invited dignitaries include Ohio Governor John Kasich, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Columbus Schools Superintendent Dr.
So our training gears to making your downtown revitalized, sustainable and thriving,” explained Jeannie Zieren, Director of Training and Information Services with the Mississippi Main Street Association. Gene Harris; Westerville Schools Superintendent Dan Good, Southwestern Schools Superintendent Bill Wise, Governors Director of Minority Affairs Lynn Stevens, representatives from the Ohio State University, Ohio University, Columbus State, Denison University, Capital University, Franklin University, Ohio Department of Education, and other county, state and state officials. Somali community leaders and educators including the first African man to receive a PhD from Princeton University and former Ministers will be honored at the event.A In addition to financial scholarships by the Law Office of Russell Flickinger, Presidential Service Awards will be conferred on members of the Somali-American community in recognition of their contributions to the community. Yamamoto, Ambassador Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs Donald Yamamoto's prior assignments included serving as the U.5. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs from 2003 to 2006, where he was responsible for coordinating U. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti from 2000 to 2003 and was the Deputy Director for East African Affairs from 1998 to 2000.Ambassador Yamamoto entered the Foreign Service in 1980.
He attended the National War College in 1996 for senior training and received a Congressional Fellowship in 1991.Ambassador Yamamoto is a graduate of Columbia College and did graduate studies at Columbia University, receiving a Master's degree in International Affairs. If you pass the turn-off ramp, you will enter onto the freeway and will have to get off at the next exit and backtrack. Somalia needs to be united or the ongoing problems will simply be exacerbated, said Abdinur Mohamud, a consultant for the Ohio Department of Education.There has to be a solution that brings all those territories together so regions and communities can function at the local level, said Mohamud, a member of the organizing committee. Global Leadership Coalition.Somalia has been in a state of violence and conflict for over two decades now, Jibril Mohamed, president and chief executive officer of the Northland-based Somali Community Access Network, said last week.
Many attempts were made to bring together the sides that were fighting for power in Somalia. State Department, was invited to be one of the speakers but will not be able to attend, according to Mohamed. But as we do with any policy we look at the situation on the ground and make determinations on when and whether we need to make adjustments to that policy.
It is going to be a painstaking process to move things forward in a positive direction.Malac was invited to give the keynote address last night at the conference, which will conclude today.
Somalis many thousands of whom live in Columbus have an important role to play in determining policy.We understand that having a connection to them is something we need to do to ensure that we have that flow of ideas or an understanding what the impact of what our policies might be, she said, adding that violence is a major concern among Somalis.


They take every opportunity to try to get that message to us to put pressure on us to keep doing something.Mohamed said he was one of two Somalis invited to attend a 2010 forum at the White House, where the president unveiled his administrations strategy in Somalia. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau.A ****************************************************************************************************************************************************Ohio conference discusses Somalia future, problemsJan.
Issues discussed include the national roadmap, piracy, humanitarian crisis, frontline state military interventions, Diaspora remittance challenges and community development issues. Engagement in Somalia: DualTrack Policy Aims and Implications * Debunking the Roadmap: A Tool for Statehood or Death-knell for Disintegration? His remarks will provide an overview of Americas role in supporting humanitarian, development, and security assistance in Somalia. Ambassador James Swan has served as the United States Special Representative for Somalia since August 2011. He has served with the State Department since 1988 in Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Haiti, and Nicaragua, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2006-2008). Somalis in America are not only active contributors to their newly adopted communities, but also continue to follow, and more importantly, influence developments in Somalia.
So it was a priority for me to engage in a dialogue and learn from the Somalia diaspora in the first few months of my new assignment as the U.S. They see heart-breaking news coverage of malnourished Somali children, read about bright young college students murdered by suicide bombers, or hear reports of wide-scale corruption and say that Somalia cannot be helped.
The problems Somalia faces today, the critics say, are the same problems it has faced for twenty years. Interests in Somalia The answer is simple: Americas national interests require robust engagement with Somalia. As a compassionate society, the United States has an interest in addressing the acute humanitarian needs of our fellow human beings in Somalia.
As part of our global commitment to advancing democratic values and improved governance, we have an interest in promoting political reforms that allow Somalis to be represented by leaders who will govern for the benefit of the people and the development of the country. The combination of instability and poor governance threatens not only the Somali people, but the security of our regional partners in the Horn of Africa and beyond. These factors have led to the most serious piracy problem in the world on key international trade routes. They have also created a dangerous terrorist organization al Shabaab that wantonly attacks innocent civilians and African peacekeepers, has conducted terrorist attacks against Somalias neighbors, and has actively recruited American citizens.A For all these reasons humanitarian, democracy and governance, and cold-eyed security concerns America is committed to helping Somalia regain stability and security.
While Somalia faces enormous challenges, it also has, to quote President Obama, enormous support from the people of the United States.A A Vision for Success in Somalia We are committed to working with Somalis and the international community to help develop indigenous, long term solutions to the countrys ongoing problems. America, as President Obama also said, wants Somalia to succeed.A Success means that Somalis facing drought and famine are helped to survive the current crisis and are given the long-term tools to better withstand future droughts.
Success means that Somalia is free from totalitarian terrorist groups like al Shabaab, which is responsible for many lost and shattered lives not only in Somalia, but in Kenya and Uganda, through its terror attacks and through its policy of banning humanitarian assistance.
Success means that Somalis can turn to their government for the basic services that we take for granted in America. It means that humanitarian and development assistance goes where it is needed and not into the pockets of corrupt officials or the armories of warlords and terrorists. And success means that the Somali people get to decide what form of government and constitution they will have. Poll after poll shows that the Somali people want self-determination, even if they are unclear exactly how that democracy should look.
Our role is to support the Somali people as they arrive at these decisions.A The Current Humanitarian CrisisLet me turn first to the current humanitarian crisis, which has been so much in the headlines in recent months.
Nutritional data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization in early September spoke of 4 million people in need of assistance in Somalia alone, with more than three times that number at risk elsewhere in the region.A To address the immediate crisis, the United States has provided over $750 million to meet ongoing and urgent humanitarian needs in the region. Our dollars and diplomatic leverage are also being used to provide protection and assistance for Somali refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.A While America is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa But, we are not alone. European partners, Turkey, Gulf Cooperation Council countries, China, Japan, and many others have all responded to Somalias urgent need. Together, we have met nearly 80 percent of the $1 billion UN Consolidated Appeal for Humanitarian Assistance for Somalia, the highest percentage reached of any appeal in the world today.
In addition to aid from governments, there have been significant contributions from private citizens and NGOs from around the world.
In many respects, our core humanitarian challenge is not only to continue to mobilize the necessary resources, but also to ensure that all donors and implementing agencies are coordinating their response for maximum efficiency and effect.The areas worst affected by the famine are not coincidentally those where the extremist group al-Shabaab is most influential.
Though assistance is beginning to reach these areas, coverage is uneven and continues to be impeded by al-Shabab in many places.
We call on al-Shabaab to remove urgently all remaining obstacles to aid delivery in areas where they are present. Although humanitarian access is far better in areas of Transitional Federal Government presence, we believe this could be further improved through efforts to establish more effective TFG aid-coordination systems and address the problem of small armed bands that control entry to some Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) sites.
The TFG should make areas it controls a model of effective aid delivery.A There is also something that you can do. You may be surprised to know that more than 54% of Americans have no idea there is even a crisis in the Horn of Africa region. Today we are asking that 13.3 million people, the same number of people impacted by the crisis, take action to raise awareness for the Horn of Africa. Dual Track Policy after One YearBeyond the immediate crisis, our primary vehicle for advancing broader U.S.
Under Dual Track, our diplomatic engagement and development assistance for Somalia is steadily increasing.
These funds support a vast array of programs, across the entire country, that address security, peace and reconciliation, conflict mitigation, good governance, justice, democracy, education, economic growth, private sector competitiveness, health, water sanitation, food security, nutrition, and protection for vulnerable peoples.A Track one of the Dual Track policy reaffirms Americas continuing support for making the Transitional Federal Institutions more effective, more inclusive, and better able to provide services to the Somali people. Track One is consistent with our support for the Transitional Charter and Djibouti Peace Process. Track one also reaffirms our continued support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers who defend those institutions.A The Second Track of Dual Track broadens our engagement with regional and local administrations, civil society groups, and communities across the country that share the same goal of defeating al-Shabaab and bringing peace and stability back to Somalia. In reality, the Second Track announced last year codified efforts that were already underway to expand outreach to communities and organizations that were creating pockets of stability and improved governance. Key administrations and organizations we engage under Dual Track include Somaliland, Puntland, Galmuduug, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, other local administrations, and civil society groups.A The past year has seen important progress on both tracks of Dual Track.
On Track One, the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM have succeeded in retaking ninety-eight percent of Mogadishu from al-Shabaab.
This is a significant accomplishment in the security arena and one that has led to increased humanitarian access in newly liberated parts of the city. Mogadishu has been the scene of the fiercest battles in the country as al Shabaab struggled to keep its grip on the city that remains the economic heart of the country and has historically been its political epicenter as well. While al Shabaab has lost territory and support over the past year, it remains a very dangerous organization within Somalia and our support to the Somali forces and the Ugandan and Burundian troops deployed alongside them in Mogadishu will continue.
The United States supports the Somali National forces with stipends, training, and equipment, and has also provided the lion's share of equipment and training for the AMISOM troop-contributing countries ever since their first deployment in 2007.A On the second track, we have increased outreach and support to key regional administrations and local governments across the country that are providing stability and services and countering al-Shabaab.
Somaliland, for example, emerged from a successful presidential transition last year, a process the United States supported with over $700,000 in assistance.
Having clearly progressed on democratization, the Somaliland administration has also successfully attracted new investment. That is why the United States more than doubled its assistance to Somaliland under Dual Track, going from about $8 million in 2009 to more than $20 million in 2010.
This funds programs focused on local government administration and planning, education, community development initiatives, and economic growth.A We plan to extend the same type of Track Two community development assistance programs to Puntland, Galmuduug, and accessible areas of Gedo Region in the coming months. Even in Mogadishu, our quick impact community-focused projects are channeled through the Benadir Administration in order to reinforce local ownership and keep the projects close to the people.A We know Dual Track also has its critics. Some claim the policy has undercut the influence of the Transitional Federal Government, but this ignores our continued support to both the TFG and AMISOM.
There are those who claim Dual Track further Balkanizes Somalia, pointing to opportunists who quickly self-declared newly independent states states that often represent little more than a hastily-posted website in a foreign capital.A The Second Track is in no way an open-ended commitment to assist any regional entity. We are focused on looking for opportunities to help political structures that enjoy real legitimacy with their constituents and have a record of building pockets of stability within Somalia and responding to the people. We want to help Somalis living in such communities, even while Somalis as a whole decide what sort of relationship they want between their central and regional governments. When it comes to recognizing new African states, America follows the African Union lead -- and the African Union supports a single Somali state.A On both tracks, we will continue to provide training to local authorities and targeted Transitional Federal Institutions to promote credibility and confidence in the peace process.
This includes funding activities to support constitutional and democratization processes across the country. It also includes training, often with the expertise of Somali diaspora like yourselves, to promote government transparency and responsiveness.
A great recent example includes a member of the diaspora who returned to work with the TFG. He identified $1 million dollars in lost assets, funds which belonged to the defunct Somali national airlines that were sitting unused in banks, and restored these assets the national budget.A Road Map Let me turn now to the national political process. If Somali political leaders want to garner credibility with the Somali, they must capitalize on the improving security environment to make significant progress in both the political and governance realm.A Many Somalis still express a deep skepticism about the Transitional Federal Institutions ability or willingness to govern in a representative, responsive and accountable manner.
Much of their frustration comes from the perception that the Transition Federal process begun in 2004, which was supposed to provide the constitutional, electoral and parliamentary foundation for a new Somalia, has become hopelessly stalled. In the eyes of many of their constituents, the political leadership in Mogadishu has become complacent with the status quo, and the benefits it affords those in power, rather than committed to progress that will help the average Somali.A On September 6, however, these Somali leaders created a unique opportunity to change that perception. On that day, Somali leaders from the Transitional Federal Government, the regional administrations of Puntland and Galmuduug, and the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa movement signed the Roadmap for Ending the Transition in Somalia. The terrible suffering of the Somali people, particularly during the current famine, underscores that the signatories must make rapid progress toward representative and effective governance that can meet the basic needs of all Somalis.
We will continue to support the efforts of those who strive to achieve its goals and bring stability back to Somalia. Equally, we will work with our regional and international partners to hold accountable those Somali officials who obstruct progress.A Final ThoughtsFor all the challenges Somalia continues to face, we have seen positive though still fragile results from the efforts that we and our Somali, African, and international partners have expended. This years humanitarian response has been massive, and now needs follow-through and improved coordination to ensure the necessary effect. In the security arena, momentum has shifted from al-Shabaab to the TFG and AMISOM -- although al-Shabaab still remains dangerously capable of asymmetric attacks. Politically, the Roadmap offers a positive vision for the end of the transition and also the prospect of convergence between the national government and regional entities, but it needs strong direction by Somali political leaders and active regional and international engagement to keep it on track.
He wants the United States to provide more humanitarian support to help stabilize the country.
We need an American action immediately, said Issa, who is a village council member in Urbancrest. That includes $175 million to Somalia.A Swan said the transition period for the government must end if the many needs of the Somali people are to be properly addressed. Yesterday, I led a community roundtable in each city, home to the two largest Somali diaspora communities in the United States. The UN has declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia where humanitarian access has been limited by Al Shabaab. USG is urgently supporting partnersto provide food, health, water and sanitation assistance wherever they can access communities desperate for help.I was also able to listen and learn from this dynamic community.
Somali Americans are a vital lifeline of supportfor their communities and families throughout Somalia. I heard from dozens of community leaders who have mobilized their friends and neighbors to raise money for the drought through car washes, bake sales and fund drives.
A young woman in Minneapolis, choking back tears, described her Facebook page where she is raising money for drought relief and posting stories of families struggling to survive. As I heard from Jibril Mohamed in Columbus, In 1992 I was a boy who fled the conflict and drought of southern Somalia and did the same long walk to the border that families are doing now. The Somali American community is a critical partner in identifying ways to help save lives.
We need urgently to ensure life-saving assistance reaches people now and are committed to doing so.



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