Jefferson Matters: Main Street 101
As we begin a new year, I thought I would review just who Jefferson Matters: Main Street is and what it does.
In 2012, the city of Jefferson and community volunteers applied to become a Main Street community — one of 54 currently in the state of all sizes.
There were many requirements that needed to be addressed in the application, but primarily a Main Street District with historic buildings was identified and the program would be a 501c3 funded by investors.
This is not a membership organization, but one that individuals, businesses and government entities can contribute to and participate in as volunteers under the Main Street Iowa program.
Jefferson Matters: Main Street supports economic development within the context of historic preservation with a four-point approach.
These are the four committees that Main Street is required to have active: Design, Promotion, Organization and Economic Vitality.
Of course, Jefferson always goes above and beyond, and established a fifth committee — the Tower View Team.
All of these committees welcome volunteers to lead and participate. The best volunteers are those who love working with others to accomplish something for which they have a talent or passion. Jefferson Matters: Main Street has a lot of them.
The Design committee’s goal is to encourage improvement of the Main Street District’s physical appearance.
This committee under the leadership of Karen Lawton and Mike Palmer has worked on the banners, hanging baskets, pillar planters, empty window displays and supports businesses through offering mini-grants for facade improvements and signage. Free design assistance through Main Street Iowa is available, too.
The Promotion committee’s charge is to market the Main Street District by establishing a unified image and encouraging a variety of activities for the community.
This group led by Lynda Cochran, Ian Wilkinson and Angie Reese-Hueser has produced Main Street Minute videos to promote businesses and activities such as when RAGBRAI came to town. They oversee the free Jefferson, IA app with updated info. Special events such as the Christmas Tree Lighting, Amazing Race for Charity, Small Business Saturday and their window displays in the Masons’ window are among the creative ideas for this bunch. Their social media posts are a big way to promote shopping local.
The Organization committee’s focus is to establish a strong Main Street organization which utilizes a growing number of participants in the implementation and funding of the program.
Volunteers and funding are the name of the game as they oversee the annual Investment Drive to provide funding for the operations and projects. They have a great time planning volunteer recognition and have raised funds at the Family Feud-Jefferson Edition fundraiser event. Communications such as the website and newsletter are also under their direction.
This fun group works together, with Amy Milligan and Carol Ahrenholtz representing them on the board.
The Economic Vitality committee’s goal is to strengthen and broaden the economic base of the Main Street District.
Ethan Murray and Scott Weber co-chair this committee. These volunteers conduct business visits to determine the needs of the current base. They offer business workshops, Java & Juice events and support the city-acquired buildings through work sessions. This group determines grant opportunities and programs offered through Main Street Iowa such as the Challenge Grant and Open4Business. Ten of them participated in Recruitment Team training in 2018 with the goal of a personalized approach to recruiting traffic-generating businesses to the downtown.
The Tower View Team is our fifth committee to promote and provide artwork in surprising places in Jefferson’s Main Street District.
This creative bunch has instigated rooftop art, painted pianos, sidewalk art, yarn-bombing and more. The Ring Out for Art sculptures and the Mini-Bell Tower project are their idea to bring people to the community. They finished Sally’s Alley and are now working on Arch Alley on the north side.
Deb McGinn and Angie Gingery are board reps from TVT. Public art in a community adds vibrancy and encourages creativity.
The board of directors is made up of several members from each committee along with President Jamie Daubendiek, VP Amy Milligan, Secretary Carol Ahrenholtz and Treasurer Megan Wilson.
As JM:MS has completed six years in the Main Street program, they hope you have seen the progress and understand why they do what they do.