Main Street in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Faye Gilbert.)
New Main Street Communities Announced
February 7, 2012 (Des Moines, IA) – Governor Terry Branstad today announced that three Iowa communities were selected to join the Main Street Iowa program: Chariton, Jefferson and Lansing. The announcement was made during a special ceremony held at the Iowa State Capitol.
“Iowa’s historic main streets are the heart and soul of our communities,” said Governor Branstad. “We will continue to do whatever we can to keep Iowa’s downtowns strong and vibrant for business owners, workers, residents and visitors. I am pleased to welcome each of these communities into the Main Street family and wish them much success in the future.”
For more than 25 years, the Main Street Iowa program and its communities have been looked upon as the “best of the best” in a national effort to revitalize downtowns across the country. The addition of these new communities brings the total number of Main Street communities in Iowa to 48.
“In their applications and presentations, the selected communities demonstrated strong partnerships, a high level of volunteerism, and a commitment to the revitalization of their downtown districts. We are confident that these three cities will thrive and grow for many years to come,” said Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Becoming a designated Main Street Iowa community is no easy task. Community representatives must attend rigorous training sessions before even being eligible to apply. They must demonstrate support from local organizations, businesses, and lawmakers; funding and in-kind support must be secured and documented; strategic plans outlining short- and long-term goals must be in place; and city resolutions and historic preservation ordinances must be passed and signed. Most importantly, community officials, business owners, and volunteers must agree to work together with the common goals of preserving Iowa’s historic buildings and unique commercial business districts, and improving the local economy by adopting and following the Main Street Four Point Approach® to historic commercial district revitalization.
While it may be challenging to become a Main Street community, designated communities reap many benefits. During the first three years of the program, each community receives 40 days of on-site training and technical assistance from Main Street Iowa, National Main Street Center staff and private consultants, as well as 30 days of training for volunteers and local staff, resulting in a state investment of $100,000. Mature Main Street communities each receive continuing training valued at $10,000 annually.
Over the years, by working together with the state, Main Street Iowa communities have realized the benefits of more than two million hours of volunteer time committed to improving their city centers, a significantly increased job and business base, and over a billion dollars in private investment to purchase, construct and rehabilitate downtown property.
For more information, visit www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/community/mainstreetiowa/