The Newton City Council will discuss the possibility of gaining a Main Street Iowa designation when it meets in its monthly discussion-only council format tonight at City Hall.
In a memo to the council included for discussion, Bryan Friedman, Director of Finance and Development and Acting City Administrator, notes that the Newton Chamber of Commerce has been working with other downtown stakeholders to learn the process of applying for the economic development designation from the State of Iowa. Though the designation is only being discussed at this time, an application would be due in the fall and would need to include a commitment for local funding.
The Main Street Iowa program was established in 1985 and is designed to improve the social and economic well-being of Iowa's communities by assisting selected communities to capitalize on the unique identify, assets and character of their historical commercial district.
The program's approach was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center in an effort to combine economic development and historic preservation.
Newton's Preservation Commission is currently working on an application to have the downtown area placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 49 Iowa communities with Main Street Iowa designations, including Colfax in Jasper County, met Friday for its 27th annual awards celebration, an event attended by Gov. Branstad and the state's top economic development official Debi Durham.
Since its inception, Main Street Iowa has tracked more than $1.2 billion in private investment in the purchase, construction and rehabilitation of property in participating commercial districts. In addition, more than 2 million hours of volunteer time has been logged collectively by local Main Street organizations.
"I am proud to have been part of the effort to bring the Main Street program to Iowa in 1985 as an economic development tool," Branstad said in a news release on the awards presented at the banquet. "It is gratifying to see the successes Iowa communities have had because of our Main Street program. As a result of the hard work of countless local leaders, Iowa's Main Street districts in communities large and small are flourishing."
Durham noted that taxpayers are getting their money's worth.
"Main Street is an economic development model which epitomizes the strength of public-private partnerships," she said. "Since 1986, for every dollar the state of Iowa has invested in operating the state Main Street program, the private sector in those communities has invested $71.93 into building improvements and acquisitions. In 2012, estimated sales tax receipts from net new businesses in Main Street communities was approximately 48 times the budget of the state Main Street program."
At Friday's awards banquet, Cindy Van Dusseldorp received the Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of the Colfax Main Street program. Colfax Main Street coordinator Julia Kern received a three-year service award.