Town of Ely hopes to revitalize its Main Street - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Town of Ely hopes to revitalize its Main Street

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A number of new businesses have already started to pop up in Ely. The town hopes to continue that growth by exploring the possibility of becoming a Main Street Iowa town.

Ely, made up of only about 2,000 people, is hoping to compete with the likes of neighboring towns and cities.

Main Street Iowa is a program that works with more than 50 communities that are committed to downtown economic development. It works with them on a strategic plan, financial assistance, and training in order to achieve that goal.

"I thought if we've got that kind of interest on the main street business then that should be contagious and grow and one of the tools that we can use to do that is to be a main street community," Ely City Administrator Denise Hoy said.

Hoy, who was hired as the City Administrator in January, said she took the job because of the potential she saw in Ely.

On Thursday, representatives from Main Street Iowa will tour the town and offer tips on where they see improvement. Hoy said this is a beginning step they're taking rather than applying to become one.

She said in order for them to be successful in the Main Street Iowa program they need to first establish a strong base of volunteers who are interesting in working on the main street to run the program.

Businesses along Ely's Main Street, such as Downtown Dachshund and Dan and Debbie's Creamery said they support revitalizing the downtown and bringing in more businesses. Both opened only last year.

Dan and Debbie's Creamery sits just off of Main St. and opened last July. Josie Rozum works at the creamery and helps with marketing. She's also the daughter of Dan and Debbie.

The family has been nearby dairy farmers for 19 years before opening the location.

"The community is small but everyone has big hearts and I just think a little bit more time spent building the community and trying to revitalize it is going to be good for all businesses and all community members," Rozum said.

Melissa Reed, owner of Downtown Dachshund, a gift and fashion boutique, said more attention to the downtown can bring in more people wanting to live in Ely and will prompt more services to open. She said there's already been talk about opening a grocery store and another restaurant.

"I think with the revitalization, the more businesses the better. We want this to be more of a local community, not such a bedroom community where people are just here at night," Reed said.

Hoy said the goal is to grow businesses and keep people in town.

"We want to be able to offer people here more than just somewhere to live and that's why revitalizing main street becomes so essential that people want to live here," she said.

Ely being nestled in between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City often means people will spend time elsewhere rather than in their town.

The town won't be applying to become a Main Street Iowa town until the next application cycle. Hoy said in order for them to be successful as one they need to first establish a strong group of volunteers that are dedicated to improving the community. Volunteers are responsible for running the program and promoting it.

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