Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant

Agency: Iowa Grants
State: Iowa
Type of Government: State & Local
Posted Date: Jun 26, 2020
Due Date: Aug 28, 2020
Solicitation No: 169245
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-169245-Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant
Downtown Resource Center
Application Deadline: 08/28/2020 11:59 PM
Award Amount Range: $15,000.00 - $75,000.00
Project Start Date: 11/02/2020
Project End Date: 11/02/2022
Award Announcement Date:
Eligible Applicant: Designated Main Street Iowa Programs
Program Officer: Maia Jessen
Phone: 515-725-3056 x
Categorical Area: Community Development, Economic Development, Historic Preservation, History, Housing, Rural Issues

Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) are proud to announce the availability of Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants.

A state appropriation was made to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) for the Main Street Iowa Program to assist participating cities improve the physical and economic health of their designated Main Street districts. This state appropriation will allow Main Street Iowa to offer matching Challenge Grants to participating communities for vertical infrastructure projects.

A maximum of $925,000 in funds will be awarded to eligible applicants for bricks and mortar projects within designated Main Street Iowa districts. A map showing eligible Main Street districts is available at:

Each program may receive a single award from this funding round. Only one application per program is allowed. The local Main Street Iowa program MUST be the applicant on behalf of the local property owner(s) as the grant beneficiary.

Main Street Iowa staff will review all applications for eligibility, project impact within the designated Main Street district, design appropriateness and innovation. Successful applicants will be notified in writing of the grant awards.

All awarded projects must agree to provide Main Street Iowa with appropriate budgetary information and expenditures. Main Street Iowa also reserves the right to share this information, including before, during and after photographs of each project for educational and promotional purposes to further the mission of historic commercial district revitalization in the context of historic preservation.

The PRIMARY goals of the FY 2021 MSI Challenge Grant are:

  1. Stimulate appropriate building rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings in Main Street districts
  2. Assist in local COVID-19 recovery efforts
  3. Create a positive climate for additional district investment
  4. Support local revitalization efforts
  5. Demonstrate “Main Street at work” in the local community
  6. Provide local Main Street programs with an exclusive financial incentive program
  7. Create additional jobs and business growth

These goals will be achieved through:

  1. Quality historic property rehabilitation
  2. Creating unique business locations
  3. Creating upper story housing opportunities
  4. Context sensitive infill development
  5. Strategic investment by IEDA into key local projects
  6. Research and utilization of appropriate available financial resources/programs
  7. Creating local job and business opportunities


Main Street Iowa communities with current contracts who are meeting all contractual obligations including National Main Street Accreditation once within the past two years will be considered eligible for the Main Street Grant funds. Eligible projects must be within the designated Main Street district. Only the Main Street organization in participating communities may submit applications on behalf of local projects, properties and businesses. Awards will be made to the applicant Main Street organization, hereafter referred to as the Grantee, for disbursements to locally designated grant beneficiaries.


Maximum awards for this grant round will be $75,000. Minimum grants will be no less than $15,000. No program shall receive more than one award per application round.


Main Street Iowa programs in good standing and in compliance with all contractual requirements from previously awarded funds, if any, may apply on behalf of a property or project within the designated district. Only one submission per program, per round will be permitted.

Grantee and all Grant Beneficiaries agree, to the best of their ability, to complete designated projects within 24 months of award notification or show just cause for the delay.

No previous expenditures of any kind will be considered as suitable cash match for a project. This statement applies to both new applicants and additional submissions for phased projects.

A (1:1) match is required for ALL projects. For FY 2021, in-kind contributions will be eligible for no more than 35% of the project match. In-kind match must be documented, professional services. Volunteer efforts and staff hours are important but cannot be used to meet match requirements for any project. At least 65% of the project match must be in cash.

The match requirement may include necessary project “soft” costs for professional service i.e. architectural or engineering directly related to the project/property.

EACH structure included as part of a MULTIPLE PROPERTIES application must meet the individual minimum project investment threshold ($15,000 grant/$30,000 minimum total investment.) For example, this applies to multiple façade improvements, upper floor rehabs or energy efficiency/sustainability improvements. It does not apply if the project is a large, single investment that impacts a number of properties like a common elevator or fire suppression system.

NOTE: Previous Grant Beneficiaries (projects/buildings) who are completing a large, phased project may apply for additional Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant funding so long as the scope of work authorized in the previous award is complete and all funds dispersed.


Rehabilitation and/or restoration of significant commercial properties within the designated Main Street district. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Façade improvements (Front, rear and side)
  • Upper floor interior rehabilitation
  • Structural repairs/improvements
  • Code compliance
  • First floor interior rehabilitation
  • Energy efficiency/sustainability improvements
  • Single specific phase of a large rehab. The project must have a specific defined focus and clearly identifiable scope of work including start/end dates and milestones for completion.
  • Permanent physical improvements to as a response to COVID-19 (i.e. interior alterations to accommodate social distance measures, operable storefront windows if compatible with the building’s historic character, permanent outdoor seating areas, etc.)

Compatible new construction including building additions with first floor commercial and upper floor(s) commercial or residential within the designated Main Street district. Razing of an existing structure to allow for new construction will not be considered an eligible use of funds.

Multiple properties committed to a mutually agreed upon improvement or series of improvements located within the designated Main Street district. All multiple properties applications must be connected by a common need or issue that defines the scope/type of proposed project. For instance, a series of rear entrances visible from a parking lot; the removal of inappropriate slipcovers/siding materials and façade restoration for a number of buildings, multiple upper floor rehabilitations, etc. Multiple properties are not required to be contiguous. However, close physical proximity does improve the project impact within the district. Multiple property projects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Installation of an elevator and common hallway linking several buildings
  • Sprinkling of multiple properties with a central master control room
  • Handicapped accessibility improvements serving multiple buildings/storefronts like a common ramp or lift
  • Energy efficiency/sustainability upgrades like green roofs for multiple buildings, geo-thermal well fields, etc.
  • Improvements to the facades (front or rear) of a highly visible group or block of buildings
  • Upper floor rehabilitation for a number of properties
  • Physical improvements to multiple buildings as a response to COVID-19 recovery efforts (permanent seating areas, walk-up order windows, interior alterations, etc.)

Programs considering a Multiple Properties application are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to discuss your application with Main Street Iowa Staff before submission.


Main Street Iowa staff will review building plans and specifications for design appropriateness. Plans must meet all local code requirements and follow the defined Iowa Green Streets criteria of IEDA. See for Iowa Green Streets criteria background and additional criteria resource links.

Note: If a property is listed or deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or part of a National Register District, the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation must be followed.


Late applications will not be considered. Only completed applications including all required documentation will be reviewed.


Main Street Iowa and IEDA staff will review submitted projects and make awards based on information provided in the grant application. Projects will be scored and ranked according the scoring criteria outlined in the application.


The announcement of project awards is tentatively planned for late September. Exact time and location to be determined. Grantees will be notified of time and location as soon as details are finalized.


Once contracts are finalized and signed by all parties, and all designs are finalized and approved, a project may begin construction. Projects may not commence without approval from Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.


Funds for completed work will be disbursed at the following intervals. A partial reimbursement payment may be made, if so requested, when no less than one-half (1/2) of the project is completed and proper documentation including photographs of completed work to date, copies of invoices of expenditures marked paid, and proof of payment are submitted to Main Street Iowa. Partial payment cannot exceed 60% of entire grant amount.

Final payment will be made upon project completion including final inspection by Main Street Iowa staff. To request final reimbursement payment, applicants must submit invoices of expenditures marked paid, proof of payment and photographs of the completed project. Warrants will be dispersed following a project inspection by Main Street Iowa staff.


Main Street Iowa will conduct a final site inspection/walk through before final payment. Paid invoices and proof of payment are required before final reimbursement is made. Projects that come in under budget will receive 50% of approved project expenses. Under no circumstances will IEDA pay more than 50% of the project expenditures.

The terms and conditions detailed above are a broad outline of the Main Street Challenge Grant and are not intended to be all-inclusive. Terms and conditions are subject to change.

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