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Main Street Iowa Celebrates 30 Years of Outstanding Achievements

Main Street Iowa celebrated 30 years of commitment to downtown and commercial district revitalization during an awards celebration held Friday, April 29, 2016, in downtown Des Moines. Attended by approximately 450 individuals representing communities across the state, the event recognized local Main Street innovation, leaders, entrepreneurship, private investments and the catalytic power of Main Street.

The honors were presented by Governor Terry E. Branstad and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

“We knew from the very beginning that Main Street was not a quick-fix solution but rather an incremental approach to fostering positive change. It has had far greater impact than we ever could have imagined in 1985,” stated Governor Branstad. “Main Street Iowa’s 30th Anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on challenges overcome, the successes and the areas of opportunity that exist on the horizon.”

Since 1986, local Main Street programs have made a significant impact on Iowa’s economy realizing a net gain of nearly 13,000 new jobs, 11,000 new businesses and over $1.6 billion private dollars invested into local Main Street districts. As a grassroots program, Main Street communities have contributed over 2.8 million volunteer hours in local revitalization efforts.

“These numbers are only half the story,” stated Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator. “Each number has a real business, entrepreneur, developer, personality and partnership behind it. And most importantly, none of these milestones were reached at once; it has taken years of incremental impact to get this point.”

“Healthy, historic commercial districts are a key deciding factor for industrial and business recruitment. Main Street brings jobs, investment and new businesses to our downtowns and historic commercial neighborhoods,” said Durham. “Taxpayers are certainly getting their money’s worth. In FY15, for every dollar the state of Iowa invested in operating the state Main Street program, the private sector in those communities invested $54 into building improvements and acquisitions.”

In 1985, the Iowa Legislature adopted the National Main Street Center's Four Point Approach® to district revitalization by establishing Main Street Iowa within the agency that is now the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Since inception, the state program and its communities have been considered examples of excellence in the national effort to revitalize historic commercial districts across the country.

For more information about Main Street Iowa and how all Iowa communities can access commercial revitalization assistance through the Iowa Downtown Resource Center, visit, e-mail or call 515.725.3051.

A list of the awards presented during the ceremony follows. Photographs will be posted at after May 4.