The locally funded, volunteer-driven nonprofit began in 1999 with the mission of revitalizing downtown Jacksonville. Jacksonville Main Street led the charge to reverse the devastating effects of 1970s Urban Renewal by purchasing and demolishing a quad building and coordinating the canopy removal. The organization has completed numerous beautification projects and contributed to the economic growth of the entire community by creating a destination for business, residents and visitors.
Jacksonville Main Street projects include the Wall Dog Murals, the New Life Project residential rehabilitation (Pink Palace), security cameras and free Wi-Fi on the square.
Over the years, the organization has produced numerous events that brought people and business downtown: Jacksonville Jams, Progressive Patio Party, Munch Madness, Downtown Celebration, Farmers Market on the Square, Christmas on the Square, Levitt AMP Music Series, Art Fair on the Square, Bridal Expo, Easter Egg Hunt, Arkham Asylam Haunted House, Veterans Remembered, Mystery dinners, Masquerade Ball and Cookies and Cocoa Dash. Jacksonville Main Street continues offering annual promotions like homecoming parade announcing, Downtown Concert Series, Santa Stroll, Pumpkin Festival, Craft Brew Festival and Midwest Makers Market that attract thousands each year.
Jacksonville Main Street also participated in developing Downtown Commons, Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits and Voices of Jacksonville audio tour. The organization restored the Civil War Monument, provided downtown banners and Christmas decorations, hanging flower baskets, an information kiosk and Big Eli Ferris wheel benches, plus provided over 100 trees and plants downtown.
Over the past 20 years, Jacksonville Main Street has rendered assistance on over 50 building improvements and provided over $200,000 in low-interest loans for building improvements. Their efforts have helped grow more than two dozen businesses and reduce vacancy rates by 80 percent. Jacksonville Main Street partnerships have provided small business assistance and training, preservation and tax credit workshops, and achieved National Register Listing for over 100 properties.
Jacksonville Main Street is part of the new Illinois Main Street Advisory Committee and has been Nationally Accredited since 2001. The nonprofit’s work has brought international attention to Jacksonville by winning contests and over 40 state and national awards, including two Richard Driehaus Preservation awards, a Governor’s Hometown award and the Great American Main Street award.
Besides kicking off a “20 for 20 Campaign” encouraging public support with donations of $20 or more to sustain the nonprofit, Jacksonville Main Street is hosting a 20th Anniversary Celebration on October 10 downtown. The $20/person event offers dinner, drinks, a memento, and a look back on the challenges and successes of the volunteer-led organization. The public is invited, but advance RSVPs are required by calling 217-245-6884 or email firstname.lastname@example.org