SPRINGFIELD – Delivering on an Opportunity Returns promise to support the rejuvenation of Illinois Main Street, the innovative program that helps local towns and cities revitalize their downtown districts and return them to the centers of cultural and economic activity they once were, Governor Rod Blagojevich today welcomed in four new West Central region communities. Hamilton, Monmouth, Mount Sterling and Nauvoo will all be announced as Introductory Tier members of the Main Street program this afternoon at 1:30pm at the John Wood Community College – Mount Sterling in the DOT Foods Learning Center.
Under the guidance of Governor Blagojevich and Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Main Street is undergoing a monumental renaissance, expanding membership and rejuvenating interest in downtown renewal across the state. 52 Illinois towns are now designated Main Street members, while six others maintain a junior affiliate status while exploring the scope of Main Street services and prepping for future inclusion. Additionally, the list of Illinois towns and cities that have petitioned for inclusion in the program now numbers 80. Governor Blagojevich and Lieutenant Governor Quinn share the belief that Main Street’s proven reputation as an innovative catalyst of economic development makes it a vital component of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s pro-active initiative designed to create jobs and spur economic growth throughout the state.
“The Main Street program is sparking new opportunity and optimism in communities in the West Central region, and throughout our state, by using an innovative model that matches hands-on expertise with dedicated community leadership. This dynamic partnership is overcoming the often daunting challenges of refurbishing old facades, reinvigorating local tourism and restoring civic pride. Through these efforts, the program is successfully returning downtown districts to the epicenter of cultural and economic activity and ushering in a new era of economic vitality,” Governor Blagojevich said.
The essential goals of the Main Street program is to help communities:
- Build an effective volunteer-driven downtown management organization guided by professional staff and broadly supported by the public and private sectors
- Enhance the downtown's design and appearance through historic preservation
- Create a unified, quality image and develop promotional strategies to bring people downtown
- Retain and strengthen existing downtown businesses, recruit appropriate new businesses, and develop economic restructuring strategies to sustain the vitality of downtown
The four communities welcomed into the Main Street family today will be known as Introductory Tier members, meaning they will undergo a sort of basic training in the principles of the Main Street program, getting acquainted with all the program has to offer while building the grassroots network of organization and manpower that must be in place before applying for full-fledged membership. Today’s festivities will serve as an initial orientation for those communities. Later this spring, Main Street representatives will visit each community to provide a detailed assessment of their current landscape, recommending an initial course of action for improvements and laying the early foundation for future success. In July, Main Street will host a seminar in Bloomington for the new communities where more in depth instruction will be provided on Main Street’s four point approach to community revitalization: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring.
"Main Street is ideal for communities such as Hamilton, Monmouth, Mount Sterling and Nauvoo," Lt. Governor Quinn said, noting the unique history and cultural heritage of the towns. "Main Street helps communities appreciate the treasures in their midst, and fosters a spirit of volunteerism, a sense of place and a new civic pride."
Invigorated by the Governor’s commitment, Main Street will be able to continue its restoration and renewal efforts through actions such as historic preservation, business retention and targeted tourism strategies.
Governor Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. This grassroots effort is a product of significant outreach over several months throughout each region, with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials. The 45 specific projects that the Governor announced in January for the West Central region are designed to be flexible and effective. Each plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from.