Main Street Iowa hosted the 33rd annual Main Street Iowa Awards celebration on Friday, March 8th at Scottish Rite Consistory in Des Moines. The program honored the efforts of those who work day-in and day-out to revitalize Iowa’s downtowns – the heart and soul of communities across the state. The awards honor outstanding accomplishments, activities and people making a difference in the state’s Main Street districts.
This year, 19 projects were selected to be recognized from the 129 competitive nominations submitted. The Mace Family Dentistry building, owned by Dr. Brandi Mace, won the Excellent Exterior Rehabilitation award. The honors were presented by Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham and James Engle, director of IEDA’s Downtown Resource Center.
Sue Pickett, from the Newton Main Street Design Committee, was also recognized as a Volunteer of the Year during the celebration.
“Main Street Iowa has stood the test of time since its introduction in 1985,” said Durham. “We continue to see significant growth in the amount of business, jobs and investment in communities of all sizes due to the program. As a result, these districts serve as inspiring examples of what’s possible for Iowa’s downtowns.”
Two special awards were presented during the event. The community of Mount Vernon received the “Spirit of Main Street” for demonstrating the true program intent. The City of Dubuque and the Dubuque Main Street Program received the “Signature Project” award for the Steeple Square Project in Dubuque’s historic commercial district, which stood out among this year’s projects.
“The Main Street Approach works. Main Street Iowa has been a national model because we are creative, we embrace change, and we demand local initiative and action,” Durham said.
During the event, seven communities were recognized for reaching milestones in the amount of private investment in their commercial districts. Newton was recognized for reaching the $1 million benchmark, and Colfax was honored for $3 million in local investment. Centerville and Jefferson attained the $5 million benchmark. Story City was recognized for achieving $10 million in local investment since being designated a local Main Street program, and Des Moines 6th Avenue Corridor and Marion both reached the $20 million benchmark.
The community of Waverly was recognized for 30 years of program designation, and Ames, Cedar Rapids Czech Village – New Bohemia, Colfax, Davenport Hilltop Campus Village, Des Moines 6th Avenue Corridor and Manning were recognized for 10 years of participation as designated Main Street Iowa communities.
As part of the event, a special partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and Main Street Iowa was highlighted. Carol Harsh, director of “Museum on Main Street” for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service recognized Ames, Conrad, Guthrie Center, Jefferson, Mount Vernon and Ottumwa for hosting Smithsonian’s exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Changed America.”
In 1985, the Iowa Legislature adopted the National Main Street Center's Four Point Approach® to district revitalization by establishing Main Street Iowa within the agency that is now the IEDA. Since inception, the state program and its communities have been considered examples of excellence in the national effort to revitalize historic commercial districts across the country.
Since 1986, local Main Street programs have made a significant impact on Iowa’s economy, resulting in:
- The inception of 4,805 new businesses and a net gain of 14,938 jobs;
- More than 12,000 building projects reported, totaling a private investment of more than $1.96 billion; and
- More than 3 million hours of human capital equating to greater than $81 million in time and talents according to the Independent Sector’s estimated value of a volunteer hour.
For more information about Main Street Iowa and how all Iowa communities can access commercial revitalization assistance through the Iowa Downtown Resource Center, visit iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/idrc, email mainstreet@iowaEDA.com or call 515.348.6184.