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National Main Streets Conference Coming to Iowa

May 17, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - Downtown Des Moines has caught the attention of a national organization focused on preserving historic structures and revitalizing downtown cores across the country: The National Main Streets Conference is holding its 25th annual event in Des Moines.

Thom Guzman, director of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center with the Iowa Department of Economic Development, says the urban renaissance movement has transformed downtowns across the state. And Main Street Iowa, the local program, has just passed a funding benchmark.

"This year, 2011, we've surpassed one billion dollars private sector investment in our main street districts. There are 45 of them across the state, from small towns to large urban downtowns, but one billion dollars is pretty significant amount of money in our small state."

The National Main Streets conference is a four-day event, beginning May 22. Guzman says part of it will be held in the very first downtown saved by the program.

"One of the longest-running and most successfully Main Street programs is in the state is historic Valley Junction. It's been with us for 24 years. "

Guzman says the conference will focus on strategies to help recruit, retain, strengthen, and support local businesses, as well as to showcase ways these businesses can be 'green' at same time.

The conference is sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Conference details are at ht.ly/4VMRx

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA