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Beloit Wins the Great American Main Street

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2011
Contact: Barbro McGinn, Department of Commerce, 608-267-9661,
Cullen Werwie, 608-267-7303

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce is proud to announce Downtown Beloit Association as a winner of the 2011 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA). Recognized as a leader following the Main Street Four-Point Approach®, embracing sound historic preservation ethics and building strategic partnerships, Downtown Beloit Association (DBA) was honored at the Main Street Awards Ceremony during the National Main Streets Conference in Des Moines, Iowa on May 24.

"This is a tremendous honor for the citizens of Beloit," said Commerce Secretary Paul Jadin. "We congratulate them on the great volunteer effort on the part of many for its community's prestigious award."

The National Trust Main Street Center's annual GAMSA winners are recognized for their exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation's historic and traditional Main Street commercial districts by using the proven Main Street Four-Point Approach®. Capitalizing on its unique historical and cultural heritage, DBA helped save the historic Hotel Hilton and Woolworths Building, developing them into attractive lofts and a local foods grocery store, respectively; reinvented the industrial riverfront into a haven for boaters and bikers; and reinvigorated the streets with lively shops, public art and an ambitious events calendar. Twenty years after the organization's founding, property values in downtown Beloit have increased by 192%, an average of 9.6% per year. Residential occupancy rates are almost 100%, showing that downtown Beloit is a place people want to live as well as to work and play.

"Downtown Beloit Association has an impressive track record of taking underutilized areas envisioning their best use and leveraging partnerships to achieve exemplary results," said Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center. "Beloit's rich arts offerings, revitalized riverfront, creative adaptive use projects and award-winning farmer's market are shining examples of DBAs outstanding work."

The other four 2011 winners are Main Street Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Old Town Main Street, Lansing, Mich.; Downtown Newark Partnership, Newark, Del.; and Silver City MainStreet Project, Silver City, N.M.

Beloit joins previous Wisconsin GAMSA winners: Sheboygan Falls (1995), Chippewa Falls (1996), La Crosse (2001), and On Broadway, Inc., Green Bay (2009).

"As one of Wisconsin's original Main Street Communities, Beloit continues to show how small steps lead to an overall healthy, revitalized downtown," said Commerce Secretary Paul Jadin. "I congratulate them for a job well done on winning this award and wish them continued success in the future."

GAMSA winners demonstrate exemplary achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial districts based on the following selection criteria:

  • Active involvement of the public and private sectors;
  • Broad-based community support for the revitalization effort;
  • Quality of achievements over time;
  • Innovative solutions to significant problems;
  • Commitment to historic preservation;
  • Evolving track record of successful commercial district revitalization;
  • Comprehensive revitalization effort: activity in all four points of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization;
  • Economic impact of the revitalization program; and
  • Successful small business development.

The winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation.

Wisconsin Main Street is an economic development program targeting Wisconsin's historic commercial districts. Staff members provide technical support and training to Wisconsin communities that have expressed a grass roots commitment to revitalizing their traditional business districts using a comprehensive strategy based on historic preservation and developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Wisconsin's 36 Main Street Communities range in population from 750 to neighborhoods in Milwaukee and Green Bay.