Downtown could become a Main Street

Stephanie Ivankovich
Downtown could become a Main Street

Downtown could become an Iowa “Main Street.”

Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator, spoke to Perry Area Chamber of Commerce board members, Sven Peterson, city administrator and other community leaders on Sept. 17 about the possibility of developing a Main Street Iowa program for Perry’s downtown.

The program’s mission is to improve the social and economic well-being of Iowa’s communities by assisting selected communities to capitalize on the unique identity, assets and character of their historic commercial district. Main Street is economic development within the context of historic preservation.

Main Street Iowa uses a four-point approach to offer a comprehensive and integrated strategy to commercial district revitalization.

Those four points are organization, economic restructuring, design and promotion.

Wagler made three things clear about the program— the street name would not change to “Main Street,” Main Street Iowa would not be giving away any money and the program is a lot of work for people in the community. Wagler said Main Street Iowa isn’t a project for just the chamber. Not only does the city need to be involved financially, but community members need to step up and organize meetings. A director must be named and paid. The director would be required to report back to Main Street Iowa and the city about progress. There are more than 50 Iowa cities that are Main Street communities.

In order to become a Main Street the city must pay $2,500 for a downtown assessment visit then apply. Wagler said the application process is competitive.

In 2012 a downtown assessment by Main Street Iowa was conducted in Perry. Those involved with the assessment never applied. At the city council meeting on Sept. 21, Peterson said there could be interest in becoming a Main Street downtown.

“I think there’s some interest there,” he said at the council meeting.