Every year, Minnesota Main Street recognizes projects in our Main Street and Network Communities that have exemplified excellent work in the Four-Point Approach. A couple of weeks ago at the Preserve Minnesota Conference in Albert Lea, three designated Main Street communities received 2017 Minnesota Main Street Awards! Congratulations to Downtown Main Street Red Wing for their Small Business Revolution campaign as Best Community Impact Project; to Downtown Shakopee for their Rhythm on the Rails concert series as Most Targeted Event; to Winona Main Street Program for their Big Muddy Brew ‘n Que event as Best Volunteer Project.
MOST TARGETED EVENT PROJECT
Shakopee Main Street
Elliot Johnson, Director of Main Street. Committee Members: Angie Whitcomb, Chamber President; Michael Kerski, City Economic Development Rep; Jay Whiting, City Council Rep; Barb Hedstrom, Resident; Scott O’Brien, Business Rep; Andrew Frank, Large Association Rep
Downtown Shakopee is an accredited Main Street Program through the Shakopee Chamber & Visitors Bureau. We are a collaborative, community-wide effort to revitalize our downtown district.
With more than $70K raised in local business sponsorships and over $40K raised from ticket and drink sales for the Main Street Program, the first annual Rhythm on the Rails concert series was a huge success for Shakopee Main Street. It was a free five-week outdoor, concert series that took place every Wednesday night from 6-10 pm right in the heart of Downtown Shakopee. Rhythm on the Rails featured live music, family fun, food/brew vendors, and much more. More than 13,000 people attended the concert series with over 35 local businesses and 45 volunteers involved. The impact Rhythm on the Rails had for Downtown Shakopee is something to celebrate as well. On average downtown retailers saw an increase of 22.3% in sales for the summer months compared to their sales the previous summer.
BEST COMMUNITY IMPACT PROJECT
Red Wing Downtown Main Street
Megan Tsui – Executive Director. Board Members: Brent Jayne, Jamie Kells, Tracy Hardyman, Colt Ekblad, Brent Urbach, Mandy Cardinal, Brenda Stelter, Lori Simonson
Red Wing Downtown Main Street’s mission is simple: Revitalize and sustain Red Wing’s historic business districts. We’re champions for Red Wing’s historic downtown. By preserving and revitalizing the business district of this charming small town on the Mississippi, just an hour southeast of the Twin Cities, we’ve made it shine. Formed in 1997 as the Downtown Council, by citizens concerned about the “donut effect” (downtown emptying out as business relocate to the edges of the city), we became a 501(c)3 in 1998. In 2009, we were the very first designated and accredited Main Street America™ organization in MN – a mark of distinction signifying commitment to comprehensive revitalization, community engagement, and outcome measurement. Partnering with multiple groups, we’re realizing the community’s vision of a vibrant, prosperous downtown which attracts people, young and old, to its natural and historic features, recreation and cultural centers, specialty and convenience shopping and services. We’re building a thriving downtown, so the whole community – businesses, residents and visitors alike – benefits.
Red Wing made a strong showing in the 2017 Small Business Revolution contest hosted by Deluxe Corp. We were among the top five finalists aiming to win the $500,000 grand prize to refresh our downtown and support local businesses. The winner would also be featured in season two of the Small Business Revolution television series. Sadly, though Red Wing alternated between the #1 and #2 spot in the final online voting round, they lost out in the end to Bristol Borough, Penn. But coming in second in the big contest had perks, too –we got over one million dollars in free press in local and national media outlets, and Red Wing Downtown Main Street’s social media accounts reached hundreds of thousands of people.
Even though Red Wing didn’t take home the big prize, the Deluxe team did handpick a local business—Josephson’s Clothing Store—for a special project. The Deluxe team worked to design high-end packaging for Josephson’s, free of charge, and they featured the experience in a promotional video for their packaging design services.
Deluxe also came back to Red Wing to host a free event for local business leaders in May 2017. “How to Market Your Small Business Effectively” walked us through the importance of SEO, social media, and website design, and it was wonderful having Deluxe experts on hand to answer our questions and inspire the next phase of our evolution as a downtown.
It was really quite an experience to be involved in a project so large-scale that folks across the state—and the United States—were all paying attention and clicking in their votes for Red Wing to win. We really came together as a community, and you could feel that energy throughout the city. We really know how to unite for #myredwing!
BEST VOLUNTEER PROJECT
Winona Main Street
Emily Kurash – Program Coordinator
Steering Committee Members: Heidi Evenson, Michelle Alexander, Nicole Chamberlain-Dupree, Jose Pelaez, Andy Puetz, Della Schmidt, Myron White
Big Muddy Brew ‘n Que Co Chairs: Della Schmidt and Michelle Alexander.
Guided by the Main Street 4-Point Approach, the Winona Main Street Program is committed to Historic Downtown Winona being the heart of our community and region, a vibrant hub of commerce, arts and culture, recreation, and residential life. The program’s vision is to create a downtown where people want to be.
The second annual Big Muddy Brew ‘n Que improved in several areas after learning from last year’s inaugural event. With evening activities added to the schedule, increased volunteer support and enough supplies to sustain a larger crowd, Big Muddy got a lot bigger in year two. The event, put on by the Winona Main Street program, included a wine tasting on Saturday night, and plenty of activities Sunday, including a craft and art fair, bean bag tournament, kids activities, local bbq competition and microbrew tasting. Big Muddy also featured a free entertainment stage all weekend, as well as a professional Kansas City Barbeque Society competition.
There were many more volunteers this year, both on the planning committee and volunteers in general. With 7 volunteers on the planning committee with countless hours involved, and over 140 event volunteers with well over 500 hours of volunteer time, Big Muddy’s success truly stems from its volunteers and sponsors.
In addition to being a fundraiser for the Winona Main Street Program, funds from Big Muddy will go toward physical improvements for the public in downtown Winona—this year we’re working on replacing garbage cans. Although the event is still in its infancy, it’s been incredibly successful, and Winona Main Street looks forward to continuing to grow Big Muddy in the coming years.