DES MOINES - The 26th annual Main Street Iowa Awards celebration was held on Friday May 4 at the newly renovated Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center at Veteran's Auditorium in downtown Des Moines. The event was attended by approximately 500 individuals representing communities across the state. Competitive nominations were submitted for 95 projects; 21 were selected for awards and eight received honorable mention. Seven individuals from Hamilton County S.E.E.D. attended the awards banquet and ceremony: Fred and Ann Marcalus, Carroll and Eileen McLuckie, and Debera Fish of Jewell and Catherine Bergman and Jessica Carlson of Stratford.
Governor Terry Branstad and Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority presented the honors. Main Street Volunteer of the Year awards were presented to 48 individuals, couples, and groups who were selected by their community for outstanding dedication and volunteer service benefiting the local Main Street program. Debera Fish, of Jewell, was honored for her service to the Jewell Area Development Enterprise, particularly as the chairperson of the Promotions Committee. Over the past three years, she has helped start and continued to organize Jewell's summer Progressive Dinner with local businesses, implemented the Sugar Plum Walk and Living Windows as part of Yule in Jewell, conceived and implemented the Talking Planters, researched and provided the basic structure for a new Jewell brochure, implemented the Small Business Saturday promotion, and organizes and promoted the yearly Tree Festival.
In its 26-year history, Main Street Iowa has tracked more than $1 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, over two million hours of volunteer time has been logged collectively by local main street organizations.
JADE received a Local Incentive Program Award at the Main Street Iowa Awards May 4. Pictured are Debi Durham, Fred Marcalus, Ann Marcalus, Eileen McLuckie, Carroll McLuckie, Debera Fish, and Gov. Terry Branstad.
JADE took first place in the Local Incentive Program category for its REGENT grant program. The REGENT Grant program, Reveal Jewell's Gems Downtown, is an exterior-interior facade and signage grant. The REGENT Grant is a 50/50 matching program that provides matching grants for permanent exterior and interior renovations Over the past 15 years, the Jewell Area Development Enterprise, part of Hamilton County Main Street, has invested $67,372 in matching money to thirty-six local businesses with their investment of $373,098 in faade and signage improvements. JADE dollars invested represents 9 percent of the organization's total budget over the fifteen years and is a leverage of 550 percent of JADE dollars to private dollars invested in faade and signage revitalization.
"I am proud to have been part of the effort to bring the Main Street program to Iowa in 1985 as an economic development tool," said Gov. Branstad. "It is gratifying to see and hear about the successes your communities have had because of your participation in Main Street. As a result of the hard work of countless local leaders, Iowa's Main Street districts in communities large and small are flourishing."
Executive Director Catherine Bergman was honored for fifteen years of service. Bergman joined the S.E.E.D. staff in 1994 after volunteering on Stratford Promotion Committee for a time. She later assumed the role of Main Street Program director and ultimately the executive director of the organization. Bergman is a Certified Main Street Manager, a designation given by the National Main Street Center for advanced training in the Main Street Four Point Approach.
Director Durham added "Main Street is an economic development model which epitomizes the strength of public-private partnerships. Since 1986, for every dollar the State of Iowa has invested in operating the state Main Street program, the private sector in your communities has invested $79.45 into building improvements and acquisitions.
As a highlight of the evening, two special awards were presented. The "Spirit of Main Street Award recognizes the person, organization, community or project which best demonstrates the true meaning and spirit of "Main Street at work." Living this spirit is the difference between interest and commitment, between mediocrity and excellence. This year's Spirit of Main Street Award winners were the 250 Iowans (including volunteers from Ellsworth, Jewell and Stratford) who volunteered for the 2011 National Main Streets Conference. Main Street Iowa honored the historic Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank in Mason City at the "Signature Project of the Year". This new award is intended to honor a project that rises above our traditional award categories in impact, emotion and significance.