Jacksonville Main Street has now been recognized as an accredited program for more than two decades.
National Main Street has again recognized the Jacksonville organization for an “exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.”
Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe says Main Street’s performance is annually evaluated by Illinois Main Street, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet rigorous national performance standards.
Tighe says being an accredited Main Street program for now 21 consecutive years shows how serious Jacksonville is about preservation-based economic development growing from its downtown area.
“I think it adds a lot of validity to our program, the fact that we are nationally accredited. That says something that it’s not just a bunch of people with some fun ideas. That there’s actually a mission behind it, and I think it underscores our mission and it gives a little more credence to a lot of the projects that we do, that some of our stuff gets noticed nationally, and they pay attention.”
According to Main Street America, during the process, evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building meaningful and sustainable revitalization programs and include standards such as, fostering strong public-private partnerships, supporting small and locally owned businesses, and actively preserving historic places, spaces, and cultural assets.
Tighe says the process for reaching accreditation is a lot of work that she couldn’t do on her own. “That was one of the big goals early on to get nationally accredited. We’ve managed to accomplish that every year thanks to our wonderful volunteers and our board and our committees and all the wonderful work they do. And then of course our community as a whole for supporting downtown.”
Since it began in 1999, Jacksonville Main Street has invested over $210,000 in downtown improvements, hosted hundreds of events, and provided access to financial incentives and program services.
Tighe says through Main Street’s award-winning efforts, public/private reinvestment in the 44-square block district exceeds $60 million to date, vacancy rates have dropped by 83%, and more than 100 property and business developments have occurred downtown, while partnerships have been strengthened throughout the community.
Currently, the Main Street Downtown Concert Series is in full swing, two new murals have been added to the Wall Dog Artists collection, and downtown gears up for the annual Jacksonville Juneteenth Celebration this Saturday, after just hosting the annual Morton Avenue Misfits Downtown Car Show last Saturday.
Tighe says Main Street Event Coordinator Melissa Hebron is already working on arranging the events for this fall, which will include the Annual Pumpkin Festival, the fall awards ceremony, and the Main Street fundraiser concert as well as the return of the Christkindl Market in December.
More information about Jacksonville Main Street can be found at www.jacksonvillemainstreet.com