State officials want to preserve Indiana’s historic buildings, many of which house active businesses and organizations today.
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced the launch of the PreservINg Main Street program. The initiative is a partnership with Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Humanities and 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 (so) this program is not only focused on protecting and celebrating important structures, but will also build partnerships and capacity within community leadership.”
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 provide 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, the state said. Indiana Humanities will also provide assistance and support to the pilot community in developing their plans for humanities-based programming and activities.
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. A map and listing of eligible communities can be found at in.gov/ocra/.
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.
An informational video on the overall program, the timeline and application process are available at in.gov/ocra/preserving-main-street. Letters of interest are due by 4 p.m. E.T. on June 18 through GMS. Visit in.gov/ocra/ for more information.
There are 128 Main Street organizations in Indiana, spread across 81 counties. The Northwest and North Central Indiana communities participating in the program include: La Porte, Michigan City, Highland, Bremen, Culver, Plymouth, New Carlisle, North Liberty, Francesville, Remington, Rensselaer, Goshen, and Nappanee.