On May 3, 2021 in Indiana, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced that the PreservINg Main Street revitalization program for historic downtowns is now open for interested communities.
In partnership with Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Humanities, this program is designed to build a sustainable historic preservation ethic while building local capacity and a comprehensive downtown revitalization model.
“The PreservINg Main Street program is a great opportunity for keeping the heartbeat strong in our downtown towns and cities,” Crouch said. “So much of Indiana’s rural attractions focus on history, and by preserving Hoosier history we can play to Indiana’s strengths while we continue growing business.”
Through the program, a selected pilot community will be eligible for implementation funds of up to $2 million through OCRA’s Community Development Block Grant program, along with multiple capacity building opportunities through a partnership with Main Street America, Indiana Humanities and Indiana Landmarks.
“Investing in historic preservation has shown to produce numerous economic and community benefits,” said Denny Spinner, executive director of OCRA.
“By using historic preservation as an economic development strategy, communities can create new business, grow private investment and see their property values increase. This program is not only focused on protecting and celebrating important structures, but will also build partnerships and capacity within community leadership,” he added.
Spinner said a new partnership with Indiana Landmarks made the creation of this program possible. Indiana Landmarks will:
- Offer workshops to building and business owners to encourage creativity;
- Conduct conditions assessments or recommend design and improvements to building owners;
- Provide education opportunities on preservation;
- Provide technical assistance to the community foundation on developing a long-term downtown endowment fund; and
- Provide staff for a historic preservation commission with local ordinance.
“This extraordinary level of investment could be truly transformational for communities ready to embrace the economic benefits of preservation as part of revitalizing their historic commercial districts,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.
Indiana Humanities will also be providing a $20,000 grant in two phases to the selected Main Street organization to implement humanities-based programs and activities focused on historic preservation. The Main Street organization can use these funds for short- and long-term humanities efforts in downtown.
The funds can also be used for communications and storytelling around the program. Indiana Humanities will also provide assistance and support to the pilot community in developing their plans for humanities-based programming and activities.
“Indiana Humanities is pleased to join OCRA and Indiana Landmarks in encouraging Hoosier communities to preserve their downtown commercial districts,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “We’re especially eager to support the PreservINg Main Street pilot community in sharing the stories of the people and businesses behind the buildings, so that the community better understands and feels a connection to its history.”
Non-entitlement communities with an established Main Street organization are encouraged to apply if the community has a National Register of Historic Places downtown district.
To begin the application process, the Main Street organization must submit a letter of interest outlining why they are the best fit for the program. This must also include letters of support from the local unit of government, the local community foundation and at least three building or business owners.
Three finalists will be selected based on the submitted letter of interest, support outlined and 2020 Main Street annual report data. Site visits will be scheduled for each finalist to give a presentation, outline the partnerships and provide a high-level vision for downtown development.
Letters of interest are due by 4 p.m. E.T. on June 18, 2021 through GMS.
Photo of historic building in downtown Wabash, Indiana by Lee-Lewellen / Indiana Landmarks.