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Fort Madison Main Street Celebrates Anniversary

Jason Parrott
Tri States Public Radio

Fort Madison's decision to rejoin Iowa's Main Street program in 2009 appears to be paying off.

For Fort Madison Main Street Executive Director Jillian Mohrfeld, the proof is in the activity throughout the downtown district over the last five years.

"We have had our $500,000 CDBG grant that updated the facades of 13 buildings, downtown, which is huge to give just a little facelift, a much-needed facelift to the downtown," said Mohrfeld.

"We have also put on some great events for the community.  The Wine Walk, which has grown to 1,200+ people attending, the Mistletoe on Main Street, that we started the last couple of years, is a fun event for Christmas for families, our Sensational Chefs (and) Big Buckle Bash."

Fort Madison was a Main Street community more than two decades ago, but local support waned so the designation was lost.

Mohrfeld said thanks to the work of plenty of local volunteers, the designation returned and along with it the assistance offered through Main Street Iowa.

"We have architects who are at our disposal to use for any design on any projects we are doing," said Mohrfeld.  "(It also provides) business services for succession planning or starting a new business."

Mohrfeld said with that kind of support, the organization does not want to sit back and become complacent.  Instead, Fort Madison Main Street worked with the other members of Fort Madison Partners on some strategic planning.

Mohrfeld said four goals were identified for the next five years.

  • Increase Program Involvement
  • Improve Communication within the City and the District
  • Increase Downtown Living
  • Strengthen Existing Businesses

Mohrfeld said the organization is working on a streetscape program that would work in conjunction with the city's sewer separation effort.  She said it is also important to better promote Fort Madison Main Street and to increase the online presence of the downtown district over the next five years.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.