Rejoining Main Street Iowa makes sense
10 May 2017
For 35 years, Main Street America has helped historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts address the challenges of successful evolution in a rapidly changing society. It is a network of programs with the purpose of assisting local communities preserve their unique architectural and cultural heritage while at the same time thriving economically. Main Street Iowa is the Hawkeye State’s affiliate of this innovative and highly successful effort.
Main Street Iowa works with a select group of Iowa communities “capitalize on the unique identity, assets and character of their historic commercial districts.” The program provides an array technical assistance that can include training workshops, architectural and design help and business development support.
Fort Dodge was one of the earliest Iowa towns to participate in this exciting program and was part of the network from 1987 to 2000. Main Street Iowa efforts rely heavily on mobilizing volunteers and developing collaborative efforts with local groups to accomplish their goals. The project ended locally in 2000. Difficulty in finding the right manager for the effort and a decline in volunteer involvement appear to have been contributing factors to its demise according to a story that appeared in The Messenger at that time.
The efforts to bring about a renaissance in downtown Fort Dodge, however, have continued and in the last few years have shown encouraging success. Consequently, now the time is right for our community to redeploy the technical assistance resources Main Street Iowa offers.
With that in mind, the board of directors of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District recently approved a resolution of support for the Main Street Iowa program application currently being prepared city of Fort Dodge staff and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. The Webster County Board of Supervisors has also voiced its support for rejoining Main Street Iowa.