Nine Iowa communities are splitting 300-thousand dollars in federal grant money for projects that’ll rehabilitate historic buildings. Senator Tom Harkin says the so-called “Main Street” program is unique to Iowa. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I’m involved in funding many hundreds of programs every year,” Harkin says. “But Main Street Iowa is in a class by itself…and it touches communities and people in very concrete ways.” Harkin says the Main Street grants spawn local investment, because the three-hundred thousand dollars in grants is matched by over three million dollars in local, private investment in the spruce-up projects.
Harkin says the “beauty” of the program is local people dream up the projects, the federal grants are just seed money to help foster teamwork among the local citizens involved. “You won’t find the heart and soul of Iowa at Wal-Mart or Menards or Home Depot out on the shopping strip,” Harkin says. “The heart and soul of Iowa is on family farms. It’s on our main streets…That’s why we need to be as generous as possible and as creative as possible in keeping those family farms and Main Streets not just viable but thriving.”
Bedford got 40-thousand dollars to restore a building that was severely damaged in a 1999 arson fire and turn it into a wellness center and community meeting room. Bonaparte got 40-thousand dollars to turn the third floor of an abandoned, 114-year-old factory into a space for weddings, retreats and other special events. That will complete restoration of the building, which has hotel rooms in the bottom two floors. Central City got 32-thousand dollars to spruce up the exterior of a 115-year-old building that’s been vacant since 1984.
Dubuque got 25-thousand dollars to redo and turn a 130-year-old building into loft apartments and retail space. Dunlap got 25-thousand dollars to restore a 115-year-old building and turn upper floors into apartments. Elkader got 48-thousand dollars to turn a 92-year-old industrial building into a retail and art center. Keokuk got 25-thousand dollars to convert the vacant Eagles Club building into apartments. State Center got 25-thousand dollars to restore a more than 100-year-old, vacant building in downtown State Center’s “Remarkable Row” historic district. Waterloo got 40-thousand dollars to convert the upper floors of the 92-year-old Blacks building in downtown Waterloo into 11 apartments.