Happy New Year! The Design & Placemaking committee (formerly known as the Beautification Committee, more on the name change later) spent time at the end of last year making plans for 2022’s design, placemaking and beautification projects. As such, one of the focus areas for myself as Development Director will be working with the Illinois Main Street organization to become a Main Street Accredited Community.
Illinois Main Street is part of Main Street America, a national movement of individuals and organizations with a shared commitment to bring economic vitality back downtown, while celebrating their shared historic character, and bringing communities together.
The Partnership understands the importance of a vibrant, prosperous core and champions its success as a catalyst for community revitalization. Which is an increasingly important asset for communities to competitively attract and retain residents and talent within its workforce. The Main Street program organizes revitalization efforts around Four Points: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization. Partnership staff and existing committees have already been working in these focus areas but going through the accreditation process will give us the opportunity to examine how we can further ‘de-silo’ our work plans, build capacity and recruit more community volunteers.
One early change we’ve made to bring ourselves into closer aligned with the Main Street model is rebranding the Beautification Committee into the Design & Placemaking Committee. To move the needle on revitalization we need to expand our focus from clean-ups and seasonal planting (though impactful) to encompass broader issues such as wayfinding signage, art engagement, design guidelines, etc.
Additional benefits for Illinois Main Street communities are access to various training, education, technical assistance, grants and special programs. We look forward to sharing more updates as we progress through the accreditation process.
In 2022, the committee will lead and manage numerous other projects such as: the build-out of downtown pocket park; the creation of a downtown historic tour; replacement of damaged streetscape banners; raise funds and manage seasonal downtown plantings; organize multiple clean-up events; study and revise wayfinding signage to better connect the visitor to community assets; and continue to deepen community pride with the property owner recognition program: the Freeport Beautiful Campaign.
Ultimately, we desire to see these projects and efforts radiate into all areas of the City and County. The larger the scale, the more capacity required. If you are interested in participating in these revitalization efforts, please contact me. We welcome new committee members. A new year brings excitement and optimism of the progress and change we can make. Join us!
Andrea Schultz Winter is the Development Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-233-1354.