Jacksonville’s efforts to draw attention to its downtown are catching the eyes of state leaders, who have given Jacksonville Main Street a handful of awards and named a Jacksonville family as volunteers of the year.
At the Illinois Main Street Conference this week, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon named recipients of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence. Of the 20 awards given, Jacksonville claimed four.
The Volunteer of the Year award went to the Meek family — Sean and Deea Meek, owners of Eclectic art gallery, and Sean Meek’s parents, Bob and Trina Meek.
Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe said the award was in recognition of their continuing service to Jacksonville Main Street.
In the Economic Restructuring category, Jacksonville won an award for its creation of a Downtown Business Alliance, which has been an ongoing program since 2008. Downtown business owners began to meet monthly to hear updates about the downtown project, meet with engineers who could answer questions, get updates on Main Street activities and talk to each other.
“They all kind of liked it, being able to meet with other business owners, get caught up with what’s going on, learning about new businesses and business expansion,” Tighe said.
Jacksonville won an award for its 2013 Diamonds and Ice Masquerade Ball Organization in a category for fundraising. It also won an award in the promotions category for its Art Fair on the Square event.
There are 42 Main Street programs in the state. According to Illinois Main Street, these communities have created 9,300 jobs, opened more than 1,200 new businesses, and represent public and private investment of more than $750 million in the past 20 years.