Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012, 9:04 pm

Silvis sets sights on becoming a Main Street designee

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By Leon Lagerstam,

Silvis Ald. Kathy Hall
On the heels of recently claiming a Governor's Hometown Award, Silvis leaders now have their sights set on becoming an Illinois Main Street designee.

Ald. Kathy Hall, 2nd Ward, will host an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at the new Silvis Fire Department station on 10th Street, on what it takes to become a Main Street award winner. A Main Street entity must be a separate, nonprofit organization not run by the city but funded in thirds by the city, business contributions and fundraising efforts.

Ald. Hall said she hopes people consider joining a steering committee that will form a board of directors which would develop by-laws, a vision and mission and goal statements. It also would apply for a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and hire a part-time director, she said.

A carpool to a free Main Street workshop from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 9 in Springfield also is planned. For details, contact city clerk Jim Nelson at (309) 792-9181.

The workshop "will provide an in-depth understanding of the Main Street approach to help us build a successful program," Ald. Hall said. "We will also be given an overview of the roles and responsibilities of program directors, board and committee members and learn the best practices of successful Main Street programs throughout Illinois."

Local communities already part of Illinois Main Streetinclude Moline, Rock Island, Aledo, Cambridge, Orion and Prophetstown.

Silvis tried to join the Main Street program a few years ago, but the scandal involving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich interrupted the process and the city didn't receive a response, Ald. Hall said.She submitted another application earlier this year. Officials with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity toured the city's downtown and discussed the application in September, she said.

City officials also have passed a resolution pledging support of the Main Street program, she said.

"That's first and foremost," Mr. Nelson said. "The city of Silvis has agreed to be a major supporter of the Illinois Main Street program, and will make an annual contribution to the initiative."

City leaders visited three Main Street towns in October to discuss what else Silvis needs to do. City administrator Jim Grafton and Ald. Hall also have participated in a "Downtown and Business District Market Analysis" webinar series hosted by University Extensions from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, Ald. Hall said.

Ald. Hall said she hopes the Main Street program will help Silvis continue to revitalize its downtown area ''and make it more of a destination point. That will make a great opportunity for small businesses, such as sandwich shops, restaurants, novelty shops and crafters."

Existing businesses also could benefit from Main Street reinvestments to the community and an increase in traffic, Mr. Nelson said.

The city and its downtown development committee also have sponsored several downtown area campaigns, such as installing new LED lights, pouring new sidewalks and installing brick pavers, Ald Hall said.

The recent Governor's Hometown Award highlighted the city's volunteer nature, a criteria for Main Street designation. The hometown award honored a greenhouse and community garden project by the city and the Silvis Garden Club.