Main Street approach outlined in FD

Program boosts downtowns

Main Street Iowa uses a four-point approach to help downtowns throughout Iowa thrive, a group of state officials explained Tuesday in Fort Dodge, which is one of the newest Main Street communities.

The Main Street approach, they said, focuses on design, organization, promotion and economic vitality.

And although it brings plenty of technical advice to participating communities, it does not provide them with a financial windfall.

“We’re not that truckload of money,” Darlene Strachan, the assistant state coordinator of Main Street Iowa, said during a presentation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1007 First Ave. S.

About 30 people attended the session.

Following the session, Strachan said Fort Dodge residents should understand that the Main Street program is “the partnership to the resources that will help connect the dots for overall success.”

She said the “dots” are the four principles of the Main Street approach.

Stachan added that the state’s Main Street staff will not just disappear from Fort Dodge after it wraps up a series of meetings and tours this week.

“We’re going to be in constant contact, holding your hand as you walk down this path,” she said.

Fort Dodge was previously in the program until 2001. Last month, state officials announced that the city had been readmitted to it.

As part of the process of welcoming Fort Dodge back into the program, Main Street Iowa officials converged on the city.

On Tuesday evening, Strachan; Jim Thompson, business specialist with Main Street Iowa; Tim Reinders, design consultant with Main Street Iowa; Terry Poe Buschkamp, Main Street district specialist with Main Street Iowa; and Carol Lilly, executive director of Community Main Street in Cedar Falls; outlined specifics of the program.

Strachan said a community’s downtown is a symbol of its economic health and quality of life.

While the program provides mainly technical services, its does provide some loans and grants that Fort Dodge can compete for, she said. The program also can provide money to send city representatives to the National Main Street Conference, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, next year.

Thompson said Fort Dodge has a median age of 38.7, which he added makes it “one of the youngest towns we work with.”