Iowa Downtown Resource Newsletter

June 29, 2021
Iowa Downtown Resource Newsletter

Sage Advice

The Main Street movement has been going strong for more than 40 years. Before that, local chambers of commerce, betterment organizations and other groups were active in bolstering business activity and doing placemaking (even before placemaking was a word). Of course, challenges to the downtown district were less prevalent way back then - downtown was the “only game” in town.
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2021 Iowa Downtown Conference

The 35th annual Iowa Downtown Conference will be held August 3 and 4 in Iowa City. The event is the premier annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in downtown revitalization in Iowa and neighboring states.

The Iowa Downtown Conference provides opportunities for attendees to make new connections, hear about the latest trends, acquire practical information and ideas, and learn strategies relevant to rural, mid-sized urban communities and urban districts.

For more information about the conference, including the agenda and the three nationally-known keynote speakers, visit

IEDA Celebrates Downtown Revitalization Achievements

The events of the past year forced us to support our communities in different ways; and as a result, we continue to change the way we celebrate our communities and impactful actions. On Friday, May 14, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Main Street Iowa premiered four videos celebrating successes and significant impacts of downtown and community revitalization work throughout 2020. These videos highlight actions in investing, supporting, placemaking and adapting.

“Nearly 200 individual stories were gathered from Main Street programs across the state – from stories highlighting the realities of 2020’s journey to stories illustrating local successes in-spite of COVID-19 and derechos and economic hardship,” commented Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator.

To view the four videos, visit Main Street Iowa's YouTube channel.

Connie Ferguson - Downtown Difference Maker

Community leaders that strengthen the identity of downtown in the eyes of residents and visitors are on the right track. There are countless ways to do that, but what can be more obvious than paying attention to maintenance issues and aesthetics? Downtown Ottumwa benefits greatly from one of those leaders…the latest “Downtown Difference Maker,” Connie Ferguson.
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Downtown Gem - What Cheer Opera House

Porter Wagoner. Ernest Tubb. Hank Williams Jr. Guy Lombardo. John Philip Sousa. They all played at the What Cheer Opera House! Not often does one find a gem like this in a small, Iowa town, but the opera house is still alive and going strong in What Cheer.
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Downtown Development and Diversity

Iowa continues to move through the COVID-19 pandemic recovery and re-opening phase, and some promising trends across the state are being seen. While economic downturns like the one experienced with the pandemic can have a negative impact on downtown commercial districts, they often result in a time when new businesses emerge and serve the market in new and different ways.
Read More.

Community Catalyst Program Helping Transform Buildings

Recently, the Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program made awards to assist communities with the redevelopment or rehabilitation of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community. For more information on these awards, you can view a list of the awards or visit the Community Catalyst web page. Check out the Textile Brewery case study for a look at the amazing transformation of a recent Community Catalyst project in Dyersville.

Director Spotlight - Veteran Director Joyce Glasscock Retires

The Iowa Downtown resource center interviewed Joyce Glasscock, Executive Director, Main Street Keokuk.
Read the interview.

Community Resource Examples

Files available through SharePoint.
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