Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Main Street Washington hits milestones

Apr 17, 2018
Projects at the State Theatre and Federation Bank are but two of many projects Main Street Washington has helped facilitate in the downtown area. Since it formed in 2008, it has been involved with $10 million in private reinvestment into the downtown.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

Ten years and $10 million worth of reinvestments into the downtown area.

These were the two milestones that Main Street Washington was honored for during the 32nd annual Main Street Iowa Awards celebration at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines Friday evening. The program honored the efforts of the Main Street communities who work tirelessly to revitalize Iowa’s downtown economies. During the event, the Washington community was honored with Belle Plaine, Mount Vernon and Woodbine for ten years of service to their communities. Washington was also honored with Ames, Greenfield, Marion, Mount Vernon and Woodbine for reaching the $10 million benchmark of private dollar investments made in the purchase and revitalization of properties within their commercial districts.

“I track building acquisition and rehabilitation costs throughout the downtown in my monthly reporting and they keep a cumulative total when you hit milestones,” Main Street Washington director Sarah Grunewaldt said. “We were one of several communities that hit the $10 million mark. It is very exciting.”

In February 2008, a group of interested citizens presented at the Iowa Department of Economic Development offices with the goal that Washington would be selected to become the next Main Street community in Iowa. The group was competing against six other Iowa communities for the distinction. At the time, Washington had been investigating becoming a Main Street community for about two years. A delegation of about 23 people supporting Washington squeezed into the narrow conference room that was right upstairs from the Main Street Iowa offices. Then Sen. Becky Schmitz had attended to show support, as well as Washington County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Miksch and Washington Mayor Rick Cicalo. In March 2008 it was announced that Washington had been selected to become a Main Street community. People who had contributed to the 2008/09 budget for the fledgling organization held a meeting to create committees. During the application process, the committee collected $100,000 in donations from individuals and businesses for the first year’s budget. During the annual Chamber WEDG banquet the following month, Iowa Downtown Resource Center Director Thomas Guzman praised the efforts of volunteers and local leaders for helping to make Washington a Main Street community.

The Main Street Iowa program is an economic development tool that promotes development from the center of a town outward. State incentives to improve the downtown areas of a community include free architecture work and advice on promotion.

“The Main Street Iowa program is a powerful catalyst for local revitalization and community investment, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who attended the event, said. “As I travel across the state I see over and over that the Main Streeters are passionate, innovative and creative. They’re also committed to making their downtowns — and our state — a stronger, more sustainable place to live, work and raise a family.”

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 Agency. Since its 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 1985 Main Street communities have been in involved with: the inception of 4,570 new businesses and 14,348 jobs; nearly 12,000 building projects totaling investment of over $1.85 billion; more than 3 million hours of human capital equaling over $72 million in time.

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