Seven Iowa communities were selected this week to participate in the Main Street Iowa program. Thom Guzman with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) says Ames, Fort Madison, Manning and Colfax will participate in the traditional program that helps communities revitalize their downtown business districts.
The other three projects are located in commercial districts in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines. "What’s interesting about these three districts is they’re not downtowns…but they all are historic commercial districts within those communities," Guzman said.
The projects in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines will be part of Main Street Iowa’s new Urban Neighborhood District program. In Cedar Rapids, officials will focus on the Czech Village/New Bohemia district.
That area of town was buried under flood waters last year. "All the more reason for us to say ‘let’s work together and try to bring back what was there once before and make it better,’" Guzman said. The Davenport project will involve the Hilltop Campus Village, while officials in Des Moines will work fix-up the 6th Avenue Corridor, just north of downtown, that includes a number of minority-owned businesses.
Guzman says all seven communities will receive "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in technical assistance from the I.D.E.D. The Main Street Iowa program was launched in 1986 and now includes 47 projects.
Guzman says two examples of the program’s success can be found in downtown Cedar Falls and downtown Dubuque. "You can go there today and be totally impressed with the culture, the arts and the shopping opportunities in both districts that didn’t exist 20 years ago," Guzman said.