Main Street Iowa celebrated 30 years of commitment to downtown and commercial district revitalization during an awards celebration held Friday, April 29, 2016, in downtown Des Moines. Attended by approximately 450 individuals representing communities across the state, the event recognized local Main Street innovation, leaders, entrepreneurship, private investments and the catalytic power of Main Street.
The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), a Main Street Iowa organization, was represented by eight volunteers at the event including Rick and Trude Elliott, Joe Jennison, Deb and Rich Herrmann, Kate and Dick Rose and Margaret Stevens. Rick and Trude Elliott won a community Entrepreneurship Award in the 2,501 to 10,000 population category for their ongoing work with the First Street Community Center, and Deb Herrmann received a Volunteer of the Year Honor for her ongoing community volunteerism.
The honors were presented by Governor Terry E. Branstad and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).
Since 1986, local Main Street programs have made a significant impact on Iowa’s economy realizing a net gain of nearly 13,000 new jobs, 11,000 new businesses and over $1.6 billion private dollars invested into local Main Street districts. As a grassroots program, Main Street communities have contributed over 2.8 million volunteer hours in local revitalization efforts.
“These numbers are only half the story,” stated Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator. “Each number has a real business, entrepreneur, developer, personality and partnership behind it. And most importantly, none of these milestones were reached at once; it has taken years of incremental impact to get this point.”
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 Iowa Economic Development Authority. 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.