A public meeting slated for Thursday, July 28th, will summarize the findings of a Main Street Steering Committee formed last fall. The committee is charged with investigating the Main Street approach and determining the possibility for its success in Jefferson. Information was gathered through on-site tours of three Iowa Main Street communities and by attending workshops at the 2011 National Main Streets Conference convened this year in Des Moines. The benefits of the Main Street program were found to be substantial.
Iowa’s town squares and Main Streets are traditionally the hubs of commerce and culture within each community, and many, like Jefferson, are struggling today. Over the past 25 years, towns across the state and the nation have discovered the benefits of becoming a Main Street community.
According to the Iowa Department of Economic Development website, “In the first three years of a Main Street program, the state of Iowa invests approximately $100,000 in on-site visits, training, and technical assistance. Main Street Iowa, the National Main Street Center and private consultants spend over 40 days in each new community and provide over 30 days of training for local volunteers and program directors during this start-up phase. Following the initial program start-up, the state invests tens of thousands of dollars annually in training and technical assistance to designated communities.”
The proven four point Main Street approach is locally driven and builds upon the unique assets of a community, from cultural or architectural heritage to entrepreneurship and community pride. Four local committees work together and with existing organizations to build a sustainable and complete revitalization effort. The committees help to promote and find investors, and then connect them with interested building owners and renters. They work closely with existing businesses to provide training and services as requested, helping them to respond to current market trends or plan for retirement and resale. Volunteer opportunities are many and varied, as consultants to share professional business expertise, help organize a local festival or clean up a gaping store front for new occupancy. Well-documented results of this concerted effort include renewed community pride, improved city centers and historic neighborhood commercial districts, and a significantly enhanced
job and business climate.
A recent issue of The Iowan magazine highlights the inspiring stories of five Main Street Iowa towns. Complimentary copies will be made available to the first 100 participants at the July 28th public meeting. It is evident from these stories that the accomplishments of the Main Street Approach depend on long-term dedication and cooperation, but that they reap many ongoing rewards.
Because the advantages are so great, the application process is rigorous and only a fraction of applying communities are awarded the coveted Main Street designation. A key component to the success of any application is the demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm throughout the business and residential communities.
Show your interest and have your questions answered at the public meeting scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday, July 28, at the Sierra Theatre in Jefferson.