SPRINGFIELD – Ambassador to the Illinois Main Street Program, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that the program will begin accepting applications next month from communities interested in joining.
Illinois Main Street is administered by the Regional Outreach Division at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and offers its 45 designated communities technical assistance and training in how to revitalize traditional downtowns, neighborhood business districts, and urban corridors. The program, which has not accepted applications since 2009, is part of the national Main Street Program run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street Center.
“I am happy to announce that Illinois Main Street is once again open for business,” Simon said while speaking to community members at the Illinois Main Street rally outside of the State Capitol. “I urge all communities searching for ways to revitalize their downtown areas to apply to Illinois Main Street, which is a proven way to spur reinvestment in a community.”
Nationally, Main Street programs attract $27 of local investment for every $1 spent, according to data from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In Illinois, the Main Street Program attracted an average of 10,000 volunteer hours to each member community in 2010, which represents an investment of over $220,000, according to DCEO.
“Moving forward, we will continue to utilize the strong partnerships that have been developed between the Illinois Main Street communities, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Regional Outreach, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Lt. Governor’s office to offer many mentoring and training opportunities related to business incentives, design services, and a vast array of other topics so crucial to the economic success of the Illinois Main Street Communities,” Illinois Main Street Coordinator Mitzi Brandenburg said.
Communities interested in applying to become a member of Illinois Main Street can visit www.illinoismainstreet.org. The Illinois Main Street selection committee considers several factors when scoring an application, including level of financial support from local government, creation of a Main Street committee, a full-time executive director and existence of historic preservation ordinances. Illinois Main Street may select up to two new communities per year.
Renewal of the application process follows Governor Quinn’s signing last year of the Illinois Main Street Act, which formally placed Illinois Main Street under the purview of DCEO allowing the program to move forward after a transition period.