State, national Main Street leaders visit Lansing, explain new accreditation procedures

State and national Main Street leaders visit Lansing ... Andrew Boddicker, Main Street Lansing director, led a tour of Lansing’s downtown and surrounding area for representatives of state and national Main Street organizations Wednesday, August 16. Pictured above in front of the Old Stone School in Lansing are, left to right, Lansing resident Marlene Duffy, Carol Lilly of Main Street Iowa, Diana Wilson-Thompson of Main Street Lansing, Jackie Swihart of Main Street America, Boddicker, and Lisa Welsh, Lansing City Council member. Photo by Ellen Modersohn.

by Ellen Modersohn

Main Street America is changing how it evaluates communities for accreditation with the organization. Jackie Swihart, program officer for revitalization services with Main Street America, and Carol Lilly, with Main Street Iowa, were in Lansing Wednesday, August 16, to explain the new process and standards. They toured Lansing’s downtown and met throughout the day with the Main Street Lansing Board and director, city council members and area volunteers.

Lansing is one of 54 Main Street-accredited cities affiliated with the Main Street Iowa coordinating program, which is part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Forty-six coordinating programs partner with the National Main Street Center to provide support and training to Main Street America communities across the country, such as Main Street Lansing.

The state organization assists designated Iowa cities with training workshops, architectural and design assistance, business assistance and other technical aids. Swihart, from the national group, said, “Main Street Iowa is consistently strong in terms of the resources and support they provide” to communities.

Main Street Lansing Director Andrew Boddicker said, “We are fortunate to live in a state with high levels of support and engagement to help us prepare and be ready for this change. Main Street America is a valued part of Lansing’s renewal journey. We are well equipped to face this new process and to help Lansing grow.”

In the past, Main Street communities have gone through a yearly evaluation process, assessing their progress in downtown economic development on 10 standards. Communities will now do an assessment every two years using six standards. They will need to score well enough only every four years to keep their Main Street designation. The standards are meant to be a guide for achieving community growth, not only accreditation goals, Swihart said.

The new standards focus on whether a Main Street community has broad-based community commitment; inclusive leadership, an active board, a volunteer structure that supports the board, and professional management; diverse funding and sustainable program operations; a vision for the future and a strong strategy to achieve it; economic development based on historic preservation; and demonstrated results.