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Award Categories & Guidelines

Carefully read each category description and note what information, photos, or accompanying materials are required to be submitted with each nomination.

Main Street Responds: Special Award for Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery

This special category was created to honor local Main Street and Network/Rural Network Communities and their response to the effects of Covid-19 through projects and activities that kept their downtowns and communities safe, healthy, employed, and informed. Describe the project, event, or activity and why it is worthy of recognition. Describe the impact it had on businesses and the community.  Please include two (2) to three (3) photos representative of the nomination. Testimonials, news/social media clippings, additional accompanying materials are encouraged to also be submitted. The types of projects or activities in this category could include but are not limited to: public relations/information campaigns, promotion or marketing campaigns, a product or service offered to small businesses from your organization, a project, a special event, or a collaborative effort with other local organizations or businesses.

Main Street Volunteer of the Year

This award recognizes an individual who has invested his/her personal time and energy to a Designated Main Street or downtown organization and whose leadership has helped the program achieve the organization’s vision. Describe the nominee’s role in the organization and how he/she has demonstrated leadership or exemplary service to the organization. Please include one (1) photo of the nominee, preferably of the volunteer in action. Include information about the person’s tenure with the organization, the extent of his/her involvement on committees and any other accomplishments indicating an exceptional commitment of time and energy to the organization. Each Designated Main Street and Network Member community will be recognized with ONE Volunteer of the Year in this category.

Outstanding Public Partner

This award recognizes a public/governmental body for their participation and partnership with a Designated Main Street or downtown organization. Nominations should demonstrate that a public partner has gone "above and beyond" to benefit the organization or downtown business district. This can include participation in a specific project or as an on-going collaboration with the organization. Submit two (2) to three (3) photos representative of the nomination. Include information on each partner or group involved with the Main Street program or project, and specific details concerning their contribution to the organization.

Creative Fundraising Project

This award recognizes a Designated Main Street or downtown organization exhibiting the most creativity in securing organizational funds or funding for a project. The nomination can include a single event or an innovative strategy for sustaining the organization or for implementation of a project. Submit three (3) to four (4) photos representative of the nomination. Include budget information include amount of money raised, promotional materials, and any other supplemental information relevant to the project and that illustrates the impact or success of the effort.

Innovative Leadership Approach

This award recognizes a Designated Main Street or downtown organization that has developed an innovative approach to leadership, governance, or organizational management, including programs or activities that improve the effectiveness of the organization. Activities might include governance mechanisms (eg. board selection, membership, stakeholder participation, or partnerships and collaborations with other organizations), financing (eg. revenue sharing arrangements), or management (eg. strategies to address downtown revitalization, or project management). Describe the impact the approach has had on the organization and downtown revitalization efforts. Submit three (3) to four (4) photos representative of the nomination along with any relevant supplementary materials. If it was a collaborative effort, include information on each partner or group involved and specific details concerning their contribution to the organization.

Effective Communications, Marketing, or Image Development Project

This award recognizes projects that have improved the image and vitality of a downtown through strategies that use print, social media, or multi-media efforts to promote downtown and the efforts of the organization. Examples include websites, videos, annual reports, brochures, newsletters, graphic images, slogans, products, signage, advertising, displays and other print materials that build organizational awareness, commitment and support as well as communicate the vision, mission, function and achievements of the organization. Judging will focus on content and design including originality, creativity, and impact. Websites will be judged on content as well as structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, visitor numbers, interactivity and overall experience. Describe how the project fits into the overall promotion and marketing strategy for the organization, the impact the project has had, and the target audience(s). PDF copies of the printed materials need to be included with the nomination. For websites, please include website URL. Please include photographs if they help illustrate the project or activity.

Main Street Small Business Event or Activity

This award recognizes the best event or activity by a Designated Main Street or downtown organization developed in cooperation with downtown businesses—retail, service/professional, and/or dining. Judging will be based on originality, creativity, uniqueness and the financial impact the event had on businesses. Please describe title/relevant theme, attendance figures, percent of increase in sales and profits, if there was any cross promoting by compatible businesses and the extent of participation by businesses. Explain the method used to measure the success of this event including sales figures. Please include the event budget and copies of any relevant printed materials such as brochures, flyers or newspaper clippings. Testimonials from participating businesses is encouraged.  Please include three (3) to five (5) photos of the event.

Main Street Special Event or Festival

This award recognizes the best special event or festival occurring in and benefiting downtown. The event or festival must be high quality and unique to the community or downtown. Judging will be based on originality, creativity, and impact of promoting a positive image of the downtown. Please describe title/relevant theme, target audience, attendance figures (if this is an ongoing festival or event, please include the increase or decrease from previous years events), the financial impact that the event had on local businesses, extent of participation by businesses, and how the event was publicized. Explain the method that you used to measure the success of this event. Please include the event budget and copies of relevant printed materials such as brochures, flyers or newspaper clippings. Testimonials from attendees is encouraged.  Please include three (3) to five (5) photos of the event.

Business Recruitment or Retention Program

This award recognizes a Designated Main Street or downtown organization that has developed the most effective approach for improving the business environment in their downtown. Examples include innovative distribution of market data aiding downtown businesses, initiating creative financing packages and recruitment techniques that bring compatible stores to the existing retail/business mix, and conducting workshops or seminars designed to promote better business practices. Provide examples of how the program(s) or project(s) positively impacted businesses. Testimonials from businesses encouraged. Submit two (2) to three (3) photos representing the program or project, as well as relevant materials that illustrate the program(s) or project(s).

Main Street Business of the Year

This award recognizes a Main Street business that has demonstrated the most interest and impact on the local downtown revitalization effort. These businesses set the example for other businesses to follow by having quality business acumen, and/or are actively involved with the Designated Main Street or downtown organization as a volunteer. Include a detailed description and accomplishments of the merchant’s business. Include one (1) to two (2) photos of the nominee, preferably the owner(s) inside or outside of their business or in action with customers. Each Designated Main Street and Network Member community will be recognized with ONE Business of the Year in this category.

Main Street Façade Improvement

This award recognizes completed façade improvements in the downtown. Projects should meet Main Street design principles and be considerate of historic character. Entries submitted under this category must also include photographs showing before, during, and after rehabilitation, along with a description of the work that was done, the beginning and completion dates, building use, name of architect and/or contractor and approximate cost of the project.

Streetscape or Public Space Improvement

This award recognizes the best downtown streetscape or public space improvement. Among the items to be considered for inclusion are pocket parks, parklets, outdoor dining areas, special use public spaces, alleys, passageways, plazas, landscaping (trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, planters), street furniture, interpretive signage, way-finding signage, and lighting. The project should be considerate of pedestrians and should demonstrate compatibility with downtown buildings and district context. Entries submitted under this category must also include photographs showing before, during, and after rehabilitation, along with a description of the work that was done, the beginning and completion dates, building use, name of architect and/or contractor and approximate cost of the project.

Interior Improvements—Commercial & Residential

This award recognizes the best commercial and residential interior improvement projects. Judging will be based on the preservation and/or enhancement of the historic characteristics of a building’s interior for either commercial or residential use. Entries submitted under this category must also include photographs showing before, during, and after rehabilitation, along with a description of the work that was done, the beginning and completion dates, the building’s original use, its use prior to the renovation and use after the renovation, name of architect, interior designer and/or contractor and approximate cost of the project.

New Building Construction/Infill Project

This award recognizes the best new infill building construction. Only new buildings are eligible in this category. Projects will be judged on the quality of design, construction, visual appeal and compatibility with neighboring buildings. New buildings constructed on property where a historic structure(s) were intentionally torn down in order to construct the infill building will not be considered. Buildings lost to natural disasters and other unintentional situations are eligible. Entries submitted under this category must include photographs showing before, during, and after of the project, along with a description of the history of the site the new building was built on, the beginning and completion dates, name of architect, interior designer and/or contractor and approximate cost of the project.

Adaptive Reuse Project

This award recognizes the best adaptive reuse of a historic building to a current and more relevant use for the district. These types of projects are typically standalone buildings on the periphery of the downtown. Examples include the converting an old factory or warehouse building for housing, reuse of a grain elevator for a business or restaurant, or converting an old railroad station into an event facility. It may also include rehab and reuse of buildings with similar types of activities, for example an old factory used as a new makerspace. Projects in this category include improvements to the interior and exterior of the building. Entries submitted under this category must include photographs showing before, during, and after rehabilitation interior and exterior, along with a description of the work that was done, the beginning and completion dates, the building’s original use, its use prior to the renovation and use after the renovation, name of architect, interior designer and/or contractor and approximate cost of the project.