WATERLOO — Main Street Waterloo is one of dozens of downtown advocacy groups around the country vying for a $25,000 prize.
The organization was nominated by downtown business owner Jessica Young for the America’s Main Streets contest, put on by Independent We Stand, an organization that supports small businesses around the country.
"I just really appreciate what Main Street does, and I think a lot of people don't know that some of the events they go to are put on by Main Street," Young, who co-owns Waterloo Bicycle Works, said. "It's like a community -- it's more than just an organization that puts on events."
Main Street Waterloo is one of four organizations from Iowa in the contest so far; the others are in Clarence, Jewell and Lost Nation. Nominations are still being taken through April 22, but voting has been underway since Feb. 26.
People can vote once per day throughout the duration of the contest by going to https://www.mainstreetcontest.com/profile/16. If Main Street Waterloo is among the top 25 vote-getters by April 22, it moves on to the semi-final round. If Main Street Waterloo is among the top 10 of vote-getters between April 30 and May 27, it moves on to the finals. Then, a panel of judges will select the final winner.
No registration is required to vote.
Interim Main Street director Nick Hedrick said Main Street doesn’t have concrete plans for the money, but it likely wouldn’t all go toward one project.
“We could do a facade-improvement type of thing, a challenge grant for a downtown business, use it for public art — so many different things,” he said. “We’d probably want to spread that money around as much as we could to support the entire district.”
A challenge grant would be much like other downtown businesses, like SingleSpeed, The Finery or Visual Logic, have gotten in recent years to upgrade their businesses.
“We grant them money and they have to have matching funds to do any sort of improvement to their business,” Hedrick said.
Main Street is asking its Facebook followers and others on social media to vote once per day as many days as they can.
“We’ve had so much growth in the last five or six years — this lends itself to continuing that,” Hedrick said. “I just hope we win.”