April 17, 2024

Creston to explore a Main Street Iowa designation

The city of Creston and the Update Uptown Committee are exploring the Main Street Iowa program.

Dozens of cities around the state are designated as Main Street Iowa (MSI) locations. Now Creston is exploring becoming one of these communities.

Tuesday at the Creston City Council meeting, the council approved submitting a non-binding letter with the intent for the community to apply for a Main Street designation.

The decision wasn’t unanimous as Richard Madison spoke of concerns he has with the potential costs associated with MSI. Mayor Waylon Clayton also was also unsure.

“What kind of burden is this going to put on our budget for the future?” Clayton asked. “What kind of commitment from the city?”

Jill Hoakison with the Update Uptown Committee and Housing Director Ethan Standard are spearheading the application. Hoakison answered questions Tuesday.

“This is just the exploration phase,” Hoakison said. “We can have those conversations once we even get to that point. This has been recommended to us with everything we as a community have been putting in place over the past handful of years.”My main concern is when the handout comes to the city.

Madison still wasn’t sold. “My main concern is when the ask of a handout comes to the city.”

Councilwomen Kiki Scarberry and Jocelyn Blazek both agreed the benefits far outweigh any risks.

“I would say it would be an asset and an investment in our city,” Scarberry said.

According to MSI, main street districts have experienced significant social, civic, physical and economic impacts. More than 5,000 downtown businesses have been created, employing an additional 16,000 people. More than 13,000 building improvement projects have leveraged more than $2.5 billion dollars in private investment.

Each Main Street program is locally powered through human resources and has documented more than 3.7 million volunteer hours.

The MSI program works with a select group of communities that successfully complete a competitive application process and commit to exceptionally high standards for downtown economic development. As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, more than 50 communities in Iowa are connected to a network of 40 programs across the country representing over 1,200 communities.

Locally, Osceola, Corning and Greenfield all boast main street designations received in the 1990s.

But the process is a slow one, and the council only approved the Update Uptown Committee to enter the exploration phase of the program. Through this process, there will be workshops and meetings with local businesses to determine if the move is right for Creston and its inhabitants.

“This application is essentially exploring the option of what it would look like if we became a main street district,” Hoakison reiterated.

According to Iowa Economic Development, utilizing the Main Street approach, communities capitalize on the unique identity, assets and character of their historic commercial districts. “The Main Street approach consists of tightly integrated components making up a common-sense, strategy-driven framework that guides community-based downtown revitalization efforts. Locally developed strategies are implemented through comprehensive work in four broad areas, known as the Four Points: economic vitality, organization, promotion and design.”

At any point, the application is able to be withdrawn, and application does not guarantee selection.

Cheyenne Roche

CHEYENNE ROCHE

Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.