Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On tour with Main Street Iowa

Main Street Iowa staffers Michael Wagler (left) and Jim Thompson were in town yesterday and will be back today conducting the annual program visit to Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street. Michael is Main Street state coordinator and Jim, its business development specialist.

Kris Patrick (right), Chariton Main Street coordinator, led us on a brisk walk around the square late Tuesday morning as part of that process, focused on assessing the physical side of progress and stopping in to say "hello" at three newer businesses in the Main Street District. It was cold and it was damp, so it was good to get inside now and then.

As anyone involved with Main Street Iowa knows, admission to the program is highly competitive (there are 48 Main Street Iowa cities now) and then the real work begins. 

Meeting all expectations annually in order to be recertified is part of the process and that's what this week's visit is all about. It seems to be going well. Kris and Shantel Dow, Chamber/Main Street manager, work very hard at this as do dozens and dozens of volunteers.  

I'm a Design Division volunteer and also serve on the Chamber/Main Street board of directors, so there was another meeting later Monday and a final wrap-up session is set for late afternoon today. I'm anxious to hear what Michael and Jim have to say --- it's not hard to get so wrapped up in detail that you lose sight of the program as a whole. Part of what these guys do is shift the focus from specifics to what I guess you'd call the big picture.

I enjoyed stopping in at Michele Fenton's new II Pillars Clothing and Gifts on the north side --- managed by Patty Gast. I'm sorry to say I'd not been inside the business that opened earlier this year before, but then I rarely shop for women's clothing and accessories.

I do know that it's been a great addition to the district's business community --- and that Kris is a loyal customer. Michael and Jim say they evaluate businesses in part on the basis of whether or not their wives would enjoy shopping there --- and II Pillars passed the spouse test with flying colors.

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