• Judy Tighe, CMSM

Help us WIN $25,000!!

Once again, Jacksonville is in an online voting contest… Jacksonville Main Street is in the running for the “Independent We Stand America’s Main Streets Contest,” a national contest sponsored by Stihl Inc. Other sponsors include Do it Best Corp., PPG Pittsburgh Paints, Nationwide Marketing Group, and Flip this Town.

From now until November 7, online voting for the Quarterfinalists is being tabulated, with the top 25 communities becoming Semi-finalists. Semi-finalist voting runs from November 15 to December 12, and the Grand Prize being selected from the top 10 vote getters in the Semi-final round by a panel of judges. The winning Main Street will be announced December 20 and receive $25,000 in cash and related prizes to help revitalize that Main Street district.

Voters can vote every day, up to 25 times per 24-hour period from any one IP address. Vote daily at

Independent We Stand is a movement of independently owned businesses across the country dedicated to educating their communities about the importance-and the benefits-of “buying local.” The organization believes that Main Streets are really the heartbeat of America's cities and towns. They play an important part in the long-term success of communities and really help build a sense of place. When Main Streets are strong, so are the communities that surround them. The goal of the America's Main Streets contest is to help promote the importance and strong economic benefits of these Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive.

Jacksonville Main Street is a non-profit that has been promoting downtown revitalization here since 1999. Operating primarily on local financial support, the volunteer-driven 501(c)3 has reinvested in downtown through its various events like the Downtown Easter Egg Hunt, Craft Brew Festival, Artisan Fair, Pumpkin Festival, Santa Stroll, Gingerbread House Decorating Contest, and the new Christkindlmarket this year. a host of past public activities that have consistently attracted thousands to downtown Jacksonville. JMS also produces the Downtown Concert Series, free music throughout the summer to bring the community together on the square.

Over the past 20 years, the organization has tendered assistance for over 60 building improvements, provided over $250,000 in low interest loans for building improvements, provided over 100 trees and plants downtown, restored and helped light the Civil War Monument, added Ferris Wheel benches, purchased decorative banners and hanging flower baskets, installed an information kiosk, and created the Wall Dog murals. Beyond physical enhancements, Jacksonville Main Street led the charge to undo Urban Renewal by purchasing and demolishing a quad building and coordinating the canopy removal. Their efforts have helped grow nearly 3 dozen businesses and reduce vacancy rates by 80% in 20 years. If the organization wins this contest, winnings will help fund the Downtown Concert Series, an additional new Wall Dog mural, and provide seed money for a new entrepreneurial ecosystem development.

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