IUKA, Miss. (WTVA) -- A leap of faith has become a labor of love for Kathy Haataja.
After 30 years away from home, she's back in Iuka and the proud owner of Madison Studio.
She is among those excited about what's happening in downtown Iuka.
"I love knowing that everybody is beautifying Iuka and Iuka is building up and I like every opportunity I can help with the community to do that because I'm just very thankful that I'm here," Haataja said.
She is thankful to also be a part of what's happening in downtown and that's revitalization.
"It's a pretty good variety downtown and we're very proud of it and I think our merchants are proud of it because they are fixing up now for about a year or year and a half," Mayor Jackie Bryant said.
"I moved back in the 80's. We went through a slow period and you could find a parking place on the street. Now you can't find a parking place on the street which is really good," Encore Products owner Charles Emmons said.
"Oh! I love it. The town had gone down for a long time and especially old downtown and now, we're seeing a total revitalization. It's wonderful. Almost all of the shops are open and rented out in downtown," Pennywinkle Station restaurant owner Julie Heinrich said.
A group of business owners and employees formed what's called the IDEA Group a year and a half ago to inspire others to invest in downtown.
Their goal was to revitalize downtown. They say their mission has been accomplished.
"It's a wonderful feeling. This is a fantastic town. It's coming back to life. A lot of folks are re-doing the buildings and the store fronts. As you hear right now, they're working on them and trying to get them ready for the (Iuka Heritage Festival) weekend," Iuka Battlefield Commission Chairman Harold Lomenick said.
"We've got the whole downtown working on their property, cleaning up space and it seems like it's a joint effort," Iuka Heritage Festival Coordinator Lee Ann Robertson said.