Main Street moving ahead
With a few new events scheduled this summer and a clear link with Main Street Iowa showing growth, Main Street Washington director Sarah Sadrakula said today that the program has nowhere to go but up.
Sadrakula said today that halfway through the program’s fifth year, the program is looking good. She said she is excited about highlighting five years of the Washington Incentive Fund. The Main Street design committee has put together posters showing before and after photos of 15 buildings that have had exterior renovations. The photos will be displayed at the farmers market on June 20. Each of the businesses will also get a copy of the poster.
“It’s kind of a neat gallery walk of WIF grants for the past five years,” Sadrakula said.
She also said for the next few weeks, members of Main Street would be doing a market analysis through Main Street Iowa. Volunteers will be asking people on the square in Washington to take a few minutes to do a business survey of the downtown area. There will also be an online version of the survey. People will be asked where they shop, what products they would like to see and other similar questions.
“The whole goal is not to go out and try to bring in tons of new businesses, but be able to show what we found to the current businesses,” Sadrakula said. “The information can be used to help businesses plan how to grow.”
Sadrakula also discussed a summary of Main Street Iowa, which shows that statewide Main Street communities have maintained $73 of value through volunteerism for every dollar they are given. Sadrakula said that Main Street Washington has an identical ratio. She said that the program has given away close to $300,000 worth of grants over the last five years through the Riverboat Foundation grants to Main Street.
The program has added more jobs in the community than have been lost over the last five years, Sadrakula said. She also said only about 13 businesses in the downtown area have closed in those five years, but most have had other businesses move in to fill the empty space.
“Washington is very fortunate that we have almost full occupancy of our commercial spaces,” Sadrakula said. “There are a lot of communities that are not like that.”
She said that in the future there are some buildings with vacant spaces that the program will be working to fill.