Main Street Iowa

The mission of the Main Street Iowa Program is to improve the social and economic well-being of Iowa's communities by assisting selected communities to capitalize on the unique identity, assets and character of their historic commercial district.


The Main Street Approach® was developed by the National Main Street Center, Inc. with the goal of economic development within the context of historic preservation. The following four points and eight guiding principles are integrated to create a positive, identifiable image for downtown districts.

Economic Restructuring -- This element involves diversifying the commercial district economy by identifying potential market niches, finding new uses for vacant or underused spaces and improving business practices.

Design -- Utilizing appropriate design concepts, the visual quality of the commercial district (buildings, signs, window displays, landscaping, and environment) is enhanced.

Organization -- Each community has many groups of people who are interested in and are willing to work toward the goal of a revitalized commercial district. The organizational element brings together the public sector, private groups and individual citizens, with coordination by a paid program manager, to work more effectively in the commercial district.

Promotion -- By promoting the downtown in a positive manner, a community can begin to focus on the commercial district as a source of community pride, social activity and economic development potential.

Guiding Principles

  • Incremental Process
  • Comprehensive Four Point Approach®
  • Quality
  • Public and Private Partnership
  • Changing Attitudes
  • Focus on Existing Assets
  • Self-Help Program
  • Implementation Oriented

Main Street Challenge Grants

Economic Impact

  • Getting Results:  The Economic Impact of Main Street Iowa, 1986-2012 [PDF: 6.3MB]
  • Report Summary [PDF: 41kb]
  • Report Presentation
    Main Street Iowa Economic Impact Symposium: The Big Numbers [YouTube]
    - Street Iowa Economic Impact Symposium: Case Studies [YouTube]
    - Main Street Iowa Economic Impact Symposium: Cost of an Empty Building [YouTube]

The economic gains that have been experienced by the 68 Iowa Main Street communities that have been active throughout or during a portion of the time between April 1986 and the present speak for themselves.

Main Street Iowa's Economic Impact
Net gain of business starts, expansions and relocations 4,322
Net gain in new jobs 12,750
Building rehabilitations or renovations 10,426
Private dollars invested in building rehabilitations and renovations $1,051,071,772
Buildings sold 3,624
Private dollars invested in property acquisitions $404,948,923
Total private dollars invested in district buildings $1,456,020,695
Total volunteer hours contributed 2,677,996
Figures from 1986 to present
Download the full statistics [PDF: 61k]
 In fiscal year 2014, for every dollar appropriated to the Main Street Iowa program, there was a private investment of more than $93.


Please contact Michael Wagler, State Coordinator, Main Street Iowa at 515.725.3051 or with questions.