Nevada City Council members heard Monday about efforts by a steering committee in Nevada to have this community become part of the Main Street Iowa program.
Main Street Iowa (MSI) has been in existence since 1985, and is now helping more than 50 Iowa communities utilize the “Main Street Approach” to “capitalize on their unique identities, assets and character of their historic commercial districts,” as explained on the official Main Street Iowa page of the Iowa Economic Development website.
The main presenter to the Nevada City Council on Monday was Steve Skaggs, a Nevada Chamber of Commerce board member and an employee of ALMACO. Skaggs was accompanied by Stephanie Badger, who also is on the Chamber board and on the Main Street Iowa steering committee.
Skaggs shared that the current Chamber board wants to be a catalyst for positive change, and with the big downtown infrastructure project coming in 2020, “we want to be able to assist with that,” he said.
Skaggs and others believe the time is right for Nevada to utilize the four focuses of MSI — design, organization, promotion and economic vitality — to see Nevada’s downtown district move forward.
One thing needed for a community to be in the MSI program is a historic downtown. Nevada has that. Skaggs said the MSI program would be helpful in preserving the current history of the Nevada downtown area, while utilizing the program’s design professionals to help all elements of the downtown come together in the best way.
MSI does not offer huge amounts of money to communities, but rather, it helps communities apply for and secure grants and loans to help fund improvements.
“It can help develop leaders throughout the community” as well, Skaggs shared, explaining that volunteers would be an essential part of the MSI program in Nevada.
Those serving on the MSI steering committee in Nevada are moving ahead with their efforts. Skaggs said they plan to attend a training event in April on how to apply for the MSI program. After that training, they will seek a resolution for support from the city, which he said is needed for the application.
“They’re (the decision-makers of MSI) looking for broad-based support,” he said. Part of that is the city committing some funding to an MSI program, which in part will help fund a full-time employee, who will be the director of the program for Nevada.
Skaggs and Badger said the steering committee is looking to basically merge the Chamber of Commerce and MSI in Nevada and house the expanded program at the Chamber office on Sixth Street. The group will be presenting information to service groups and others as they work toward applying for the program, which they will officially do in July. They did not know at this time exactly when Nevada would be notified of acceptance.
The idea of bringing MSI to Nevada is not new. It’s been talked about for the community several times over the years. Skaggs said many remember it being talked about back in 2002. “So this has been a good 15-year process…,” he said. “We feel we can make it happen this time.”
Nearby communities that have been accepted into the MSI program include Story City, Ames, State Center and Marshalltown.