Canton, Mississippi was chartered in 1834 and incorporated in March, 1836, to serve as the seat of government for Madison County. Madison County was organized in 1828 and there were two early settlements which served as the county seats. However, the pioneer residents wanted a more central location.
During the 1850's Canton became a thriving business community with the town square as the center of activity. Rail service enabled further growth and activity in this rapidly developing community.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Canton experienced renewed growth and activity (following Civil War). Rail service was established between Chicago and New Orleans allowing the community to continue growth through the 1950's, even though the remainder of the country, at the time, experienced periods of economic growth and decline.
Madison County experienced growth in the southern half of the county during the latter part of the 1960's and continues to prosper and develop. Canton, on the other hand, has not kept up with the growth of the southern part of the county. Decreased commercial activity and population have given way to the need for a new avenue of marketing and attraction to this once bustling community.
One particular area of concern is the North Hickory Street community, also known as the "Hollow." This area is Canton's traditional African-American commercial district and is a significant part of the downtown. While the area was originally settled as a residential area, and the area still contains several residential units, the area has contained a significant amount of commercial development since the early 1900's. Traditional African-American businesses in the area have included restaurants, a movie theater, a grocery store, general retail uses, and numerous service businesses. While once a thriving commercial and residential area, the North Hickory Street area has experienced a progressive degree of overall decline during the past three to four decades. This decline is characterized today by a large number of deteriorated structures, vacant buildings and lots, inadequate street lighting, deteriorated infrastructure and streetscape facilities and few operating businesses. Based on local discussions and expressed concerns, the area also has a significant perceived--and by local account real--public safety problem.
Thus, North Hickory Street is at a critical crossroad. Through the continuing efforts of the City of Canton, the Redevelopment Authority, the Canton Chamber of Commerce and Main Street and the support of the North Hickory Street business and property owners and local residents and customers, a concerted effort to improve North Hickory Street is not only possible, but near reality.
Realizing another facet to the redevelopment of the Hickory Street Community was necessary, the Canton Redevelopment Authority sponsored the organization of the Canton Community Development corporation (CCDC) in 1995. The objective of the CCDC is to:
A. Target initially the area of the designated National Register District--Hickory Street through the utilization of the project plan strategies to address:
1. Small business development
2. Small business recruitment
3. Improving access to markets
4. Target real estate development
5. Infrastructure improvement (streetscape,
parking, improvements, sidewalks, lighting, etc.)
B. Promote the arts and crafts with art-in-the-park exhibits for local small business artisans/craftsmen.
The CCDC will encourage the purchase and restoration of significant structures in the Hickory Street Area which is also a section of the Central Business District Historic District.
The CCDC will provide for the redevelopment of structures through a) the establishment of a revolving loan
fund for purchase of structures, and b) continuing the facade labor grant program.
The CCDC is a non-profit community development corporation seeking to improve the Canton community, both socially and economically, by implementing programs that address education, housing, small business opportunities and restoration of historic community properties. The CCDC is seeking to improve the quality of life for all residents, especially low and moderate income residents.