Jefferson Matters: Main Street received awards for reaching the $2 Million Benchmark in downtown revitalization and for its Play Me Pleez promotion at the 27th annual Main Street Iowa Awards celebration that was held on Friday, May 2 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (Iowa Events Center) in downtown Des Moines. Jamie and Cindi Daubendiek, Harry and Carol Ahrenholtz, Marc and Deb McGinn, Lynda Cochran, Amy Roberts, Deb Kucerak and Alan Robinson represented Jefferson Matters: Main Street at the event which was attended by approximately 500 individuals representing communities across the state.
Competitive nominations were submitted for 77 projects and activities within the five categories of design, economic restructuring, organization, promotion and overall program. Nineteen were recognized with awards and two received honorable mention.
Promotion winners were honored in three divisions: Image, Special Event and Retail Activity.
Play Me Pleez was selected in the Image division. Play Me Pleez was conceived and executed by the Tower View Team Committee of Jefferson Matters: Main Street. The group secured a used piano that Kathy Hankel, a TVT member, then repainted in bright, vibrant colors in her garage. TVT engaged local volunteer help to secure the piano and move it from the high school to Hankel’s garage for painting, and then to the Bell Tower Plaza on the courthouse square in downtown Jefferson for the duration of the summer.
The piano was placed just outside entrance to the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower, a major attraction in downtown Jefferson, with the intentions of encouraging visitors to stop and “play me, please.” And they did! The project was deemed a major success by both visitors and residents of Jefferson. In late summer, the piano was relocated to a new bakery that opened across the street from the courthouse and the bench was repositioned to the Jefferson Matters: Main Street office at 110 Lincoln Way.
The honors were presented to Jefferson Matters: Main Street by Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).In addition to the competitive nominations, 51 individuals or couples who were selected by their community for outstanding dedication and volunteer service benefiting the local Main Street program were recognized during the awards ceremony.
Hankel was honored as Volunteer of the Year for Jefferson Matters: Main Street for all her work on the Play Me Pleez project and her ongoing support of both Tower View Team and the arts in Jefferson and Greene County. She was unable to attend the awards event, but will be honored for her Volunteer of the Year at a later date in Jefferson.
“In my 1985 State of the State address to the Iowa Legislature, I proposed finding the funds to create Main Street Iowa,” stated Governor Branstad. “We knew from the very beginning that Main Street was not a quick-fix solution, but rather an incremental approach to fostering positive change. In my travels across the state, I have seen the program at work in small towns, mid–size cities, urban centers and neighborhood commercial districts. It has had far greater impact than we ever could have imagined in 1985.”
In its 27-year history, Main Street Iowa has tracked over $1.3 billion in private investment in the purchase, construction and rehabilitation of property in participating commercial districts, significantly increasing the state’s job and business base. In addition, nearly two and a half million hours of volunteer time have been logged collectively by local main street organizations.
“We must all appreciate the fact that healthy historic commercial districts are a key deciding factor for industrial and business recruitment. In order for us to create 200,000 new jobs, we need healthy Main Streets,” commented Lt. Governor Reynolds. “Main Street Iowa was created to bring jobs, investment and new businesses to our downtowns and historic commercial neighborhoods, and taxpayers are certainly getting their money’s worth. Since 1986, for every dollar the state of Iowa has invested in operating the state Main Street program, the private sector in those communities has invested $87.99 into building improvements and acquisitions.”
Jefferson was one of 12 communities recognized at the event for reaching significant benchmarks based on private dollar investments made in the purchase and revitalization of properties within their respective commercial districts. Chariton and Colfax were each recognized for reaching the $1 million benchmark in the last year, with Jefferson, West Branch and West Union honored for $2 million in local investment. Belle Plaine was awarded a certificate for $3 million in local investment; with Hamilton County, Ottumwa and Washington all recognized for achieving the $5 million level. Bloomfield and Conrad both attained $10 million in local investment since being designated as local Main Street programs, and Cedar Falls reached the $50 million benchmark. The communities of Bedford and Dunlap received recognition for their 20 years of participation as designated Main Street communities; and new Main Street organizations in Avoca, Guthrie Center and Newton were recognized and welcomed into the program, bringing our total to 52 active Main Street districts.
As a highlight of the evening, a special award was presented to the community of West Union for their innovative thinking, persistence to accomplish great results and partnerships to enable success in the implementation of the Green Pilot Streetscape Project as the “Signature Project of the Year.” This award honors a project that rises above traditional award categories in impact and significance. West Union’s project leveraged resources from many local, state and federal partners including the Community Development Block Grant program.
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 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.
For more information about Main Street Iowa and how all Iowa communities can access commercial revitalization assistance through the Iowa Downtown Resource Center, visit http://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/IDRC/MainStreetIowa, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515.725.3051.