New Downtown Natchez Alliance director explains role in revitalization efforts

Published 7:56 am Friday, July 29, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The keynote speaker of Wednesday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Natchez was Diane DuPont, director of the Downtown Natchez Alliance, or DNA for short.

Since its creation, one of the accomplishments of the DNA was giving Natchez back its Mississippi Main Street Association Community designation, which was no easy task, DuPont said.

This opens the way for Natchez to have incentives for moving businesses here, such as property tax credits and tax abatements.  Due to this designation, the DNA was able to receive $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

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What those funds will be used for will be determined by future planning and whether or not the state deems the projects eligible for the grant or not, DuPont said.

“Some of the things we might be able to use that for are a façade renovation program or a wayfinding sign system or things like that,” she said.

So, what is the DNA?

“As your new downtown director, my goal is simple yet pretty lofty,” DuPont said. “To help bring a strong foundation to the development of downtown and to help bring life to the heart of our city. So how are we going to do this? As you all know, it takes a village.”

The DNA is a non-profit organization supported by donations and by City of Natchez funds, she said. The organization works hand in hand with the City of Natchez officials and with community partners such as business owners and Visit Natchez. DuPont said her office is currently located in the Echo Pictures building at 100 N. Commerce St., a business owned by Chesney and Marc Doyle of Natchez. As the leader of Friends of the Riverfront Natchez, Chesney Doyle headed an effort to create a Downtown Master Plan, which the city formally adopted in 2018. Included in this plan was establishing the DNA and hiring a director to lead it.

Other projects of the DNA include taking several city activities under its wing so that there is always something for visitors and locals to do.

Most recently, the DNA took over the responsibility of Natchez’s annual Crepe Myrtle Festival and orchestrated a Christmas in July sales event with local businesses. While there was a Christmas in July sale last year, participation in it when up from three to 17 businesses, DuPont said.

She added another part of the DNA’s efforts was to re-establish a Downtown Merchants Association, which helps local businesses coordinate with each other for a mutual benefit.

The DNA is also working on an information package for prospective new entrepreneurs wanting to open up a new business in Natchez. This package would include a building inventory showing places where the new business could be located as well as guides to the various incentives the city has to offer.

Coming this up fall, the DNA will take over organizing the annual “Trick-R-Treat for Little Feet,” a trick or treat with downtown business participants, and a Downtown Natchez pumpkin patch for kids to enjoy.

For more information about the Downtown Natchez Alliance, visit