BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The recent transformation of the downtown business district is now complete, according to an announcement this morning from Fort Madison Chamber President Eric Van Ausdall.
“Fort Madison Chamber and I are excited to make the announcement that as of this month the Fort Madison Business District and formerly Fort Madison Main Street will no longer exist.
After countless efforts to try and turn the program around, it was decided the programs and events onec held by FM Main street and Riverfront Business District will now be executed by the Fort Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.
Van Ausdall said committee have been working for several months to end the so-called competition and to end the identity-crisis each entity was facing.
“This will enable us to ultimately benefit our business community in more ways and work together for the betterment of Fort Madison
He said benefits will include a streamlined form of communication, a wider volunteer base, expansion of in-place events, financial stability, and the ability to pool assets from each entity.
He said the chamber has reorganized to align the missions of both the Chamber and what was the Riverfront Business District, including restructuring committees to engage more people and cover more ground.
Those committees include fundraising, programs, member relations promotions, beautification, and commercial development.
He said the board will also be initiating a new membership drive to encourage those that were previously being served by Fort Madison Main Street.
“We know this is a huge change for our community and organization, but we are looking forward to what we can accomplish together.”
Savanna Collier, the Chamber’s coordinator said the staff and board is excited about the opportunities the new structure will create and encouraged anyone in the community with a passion or connection to any of the committees to come forward.
“We’re going to be actively looking for people to help serve on these important committees,” she said
The Beautification committee will get a bump in fundraising at the outset as about $12,000 from the former Riverfront Business District will go into the committee’s budget, but those funds will be earmarked for downtown beautification. Any additional funds that are raised for that committee in the future will be used community wide.
“That will probably be an application process throughout the year, where people can apply for assistance with beautification efforts anywhere in the community,” she said.
‘We’re just really excited about this new chapter for the downtown, the Chamber and the community as a whole. We’ve already been moving around downtown and talking with people and the reactions have been very positive. It’s kind of like we’re going to back to what was like many years ago.”
The business district was under the Iowa Main Street flag for the past 15 years, but dropped the designation in January of this year, reverting back to the former Riverfront Business District.