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The Downtown Resource Newsletter

March 31, 2023

Designing the Downtown Experience

Each downtown has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The downtown that consistently draws in residents and visitors is one with unique qualities and walkability. Appearances, amenities and overall experience can create positive or negative memories, and positive memories are good for everyone – businesses, residents and shoppers. Read More.

Varsity Cinema: Creating Experiences, Preserving History

The Varsity Theater closed its doors on December 30, 2018, after 80 years of operation in Des Moines’ Dogtown commercial district. At that time, the Varsity was the last operating historic theater in Des Moines and, through the decades, became a central element to peoples’ lives throughout the community. Marketing itself as showing ‘movies worth talking about,’ the Varsity represented a trusted theater for independent and art house film. The community trust built by the Varsity created a legacy that people know, trust and remember throughout Des Moines, which is why the details to preserve history in the revitalization were so important.
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Downtown Difference Maker: Compass Memorial Healthcare

Interview with Barry Goettsch of Compass Memorial Healthcare
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Free Google Training for Iowa Small Businesses

Main Street Ottumwa, a designated Main Street Iowa community, recently became a Grow with Google partner and is offering free business training to any Iowa small business owner on a range of topics - from getting their business listed on search and maps, to optimizing their website for searchability and driving online sales with Google Ads. The program teaches digital skills to help reach a wider audience, increase online visibility and drive more sales. Each class with a Grow with Google Digital Coach is 60-90 minutes of interactive and engaging content and businesses may also book one-on-one sessions. Lindsey Newland is now accepting in-person and virtual sessions through 2023. Learn more here or email


Iowa Downtown Forums

The 2023 downtown forums can help communities with “Designing the Downtown Experience.” The Iowa Downtown Resource Center is offering four sessions June 26-29 to learn more about streetscape improvements, how to fund them, creating good pedestrian experiences and wayfinding signage. Learn more about the forum, locations, agenda and registration here.


Iowa Downtown Conference

Save the date and participate in the 2023 Iowa Downtown Conference August 1-3 in Sioux City. It is the only statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in historic commercial district revitalization in Iowa. Online registration will be available soon. To learn more about the conference, including speaker proposals, presenter opportunities and sponsorship information, visit the conference website here.
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Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

May is Preservation Month – a nationally recognized celebration of historic places and an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of preservation. At the Iowa Downtown Resource Center, historic preservation is an integral part of the work that we do. After all, downtown is the core of our communities; a place that tells us about community character, history and culture. The social and economic benefits of historic preservation are evident in communities across Iowa where historic downtown buildings house small, local businesses and provide a backdrop for beloved community gatherings and traditions. Read More.


Celebrate your Volunteers during April for Volunteer Appreciation Month

With April designated as National Volunteer Month, it’s a perfect time to recognize the incredible impacts of service across our communities. The third week in April is also National Volunteer Week, a call to action for Americans to volunteer and a week to inspire by example. Making the effort to celebrate and recognize the volunteers in your orbit is crucial to keeping volunteers and growing your volunteer program. There are countless ways to show appreciation, but we can suggest three ways to get started. Read More.