Manning's Game Changer award. Competing against all Main Street communities formed since 2008, this award was for "inspirational, catalytic 'game changers' that have occurred at any given time during the life of the program". Manning's award submission portrayed Manning with and without the downtown revitalization.
If not for a years-long, 17-building downtown revitalization project in Manning, Deb’s Corner Café might no longer exist.
The Market Place, a popular downtown store and coffee shop, might never have been devised.
New businesses might never have considered Manning a place to land.
Many benefited from the three-year, $800,000 project that restored 17 building facades in downtown Manning. That project received a Game Changer Award at the annual Main Street Iowa awards held Friday night at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
The award recognizes “inspirational, catalytic occurrences or influences that have left significant and lasting impacts on the Main Street programs and Main Street districts.”
In applying for the award, Manning officials presented the city as a contract between “Manning without downtown revitalization and Manning without downtown revitalization,” said Ron Reischl, Main Street Manning’s board president.
The difference was stark.
“Without the downtown revitalization ... Deb’s Corner Café might very well be a pile of bricks,” Reischl said. “It literally was ready to fall in.”
Many other Manning businesses have similar stories, he added.
This year marks 30 years for the Main Street organization, which started as a small group of people and expanded into a statewide organization dedicated to downtown revitalization and economic development that has a role in more than 50 cities in Iowa.
“They build on each other’s strength,” Main Street Iowa State Coordinator Michael Wagler told Herald Publishing Co. Friday night. “We’re celebrating the past, but we’ll spend a lot of time tonight looking at the future as well.”
That the size of the community doesn’t matter — Dubuque’s almost 60,000 residents or Manning’s 1,500 can make a difference with the Main Street model, he said.
Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham addressed Main Street communities’ persistence and dedication during the award ceremony.
“Each community demonstrates the ability to grow, adapt and meet the community’s needs,” she said. “We know when communities invest in Main Street, they continue to see outcomes.”
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad also spoke at the ceremony, tracing Main Street Iowa’s trajectory from a few families with an “untested model” to a thriving organization in more than 50 cities.
“Main Street Iowa continues to drive innovation in downtown revitalization tactics,” he said. “The Main Street Iowa approach is a program that builds resilient communities.”
Manning, which has been a Main Street community since 2008, also was recognized for reaching the $2 million mark in private investment for downtown economic development and projects during 2015, and Manning City Administrator Dawn Rohe received a leadership award during the ceremony.
The downtown-revitalization project has been recognized various times, including with several Challenge Grants from Main Street Iowa for various aspects of the renovations and statewide recognition from Main Street Iowa and Preservation Iowa, Reischl said.
“Manning would be much less vibrant (without the revitalization),” Reischl said.
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