Jacksonville Main Street Receives National Accreditation, Looks to Future Beyond Pandemic

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 23, 2020 at 9:06am

A Jacksonville non-profit has received national recognition for their efforts in local revitalization.

Jacksonville Main Street has been designated as an Accredited Main Street America program. The accreditation is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition, and Jacksonville Main Street is one of only ten programs to receive the designation in Illinois for 2020.

Jacksonville Main Street’s performance is evaluated by Illinois Main Street, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet ten rigorous performance standards.

Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe says this is the 19th consecutive year they have received the accreditation, and the process by which Main Street programs are measured is just a rigorous each year as it was the very first time Jacksonville Main Street took aim at reaching the achievement.

I’ve been here 19 years, and that was the first thing we had to do when I got here, was go through this accreditation review process. And National Main Street actually sends somebody here, and they spend anywhere from half a day to a day with you and review different things that you’ve been doing, and reporting that you have done, projects that you have done. They talk to committee members and a few people in the community and get reaction and then post their grade.

And so, the rep told me when she left, she’s like ‘yeah you guys are doing fine’ but until you actually get the letter, you never know for sure.”

Tighe says in 2019 Jacksonville Main Street partnered with local agencies, clubs and individuals on various programs and events in downtown Jacksonville, including assisting with five business expansion projects, three building rehabilitation projects, as well as marketing several available properties in the downtown area.

Tighe says the stay at home order and subsequent shut down of many businesses and public events has meant that the organization has had to adapt quickly to finding ways to support local businesses while refining how communication methods during the pandemic.

We are kind of working on doing some things for the future, so I do want people to at least have their eyes and ears out for them. We’ve been focused through this whole time on sharing information about assistance programs and loan opportunities, grant opportunities with all of our businesses, and then sharing all of the business information- who’s open, how they’re open, where they’re open, what they’re offering, with all of the general public. Supporting them and our community is basically what we have been focused on.”

Tighe says the stay at home order was enacted just as Main Street was seeking the public’s input on future plans for the program through a public meeting, which Tighe says is still in the works.

So right now we are looking at, how do we get back to that? In the future, when we can gather, we are hoping to do the public information session, and in the meantime, I’m looking at getting some surveys prepared to go out, getting feedback from the public about the future of what Main Street is going to be doing downtown.

How we are going to continue supporting our community, and all of our small businesses, and what overarching goals are we aiming for, and then what are the smaller projects that all of us can get together and work on to achieve those goals?”

Tighe says Jacksonville Main Street is working on ideas for possible events that could happen in the next few months, but when and how they can happen is still up in the air at this point.