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  • About Community Revitalization

    Community Revitalization is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to maintaining a strong downtown Charles City as part of a great place to live, work and play. We are an affiliate of the Main Street Iowa program and use the Main Street 4-Point Approach to revitalize our downtown district.

  • Events

    Community Revitalization offers a wide array of activities and events designed not only to bring the residents of Charles City together and foster community pride, but also to attract visitors to shop, stay and eat in town.

  • Business Assistance

    Community Revitalization serves the business community by providing technical assistance and grant programs to foster a climate for business in Charles City that enables current businesses to expand and thrive and to encourage, assist and nurture new businesses.

Community Revitalization

Main Street Challenge Grant opportunity offers up to $75,000 for building projects

The Community Revitalization program in Charles City has announced that applications are now being accepted for this year’s Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant. Businesses and building owners in the downtown district are eligible to apply for a matching grant of up to $75,000 for brick and mortar repair or improvement projects.

A maximum of $925,000 in overall funding will be awarded to selected projects through this competitive grant offering from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the state’s Main Street Iowa program. Charles City is one of 55 Main Street Iowa communities that are eligible to apply for this particular grant. Only one application per community will be accepted for funding consideration, so if there is more than one Charles City applicant the Business Improvement Committee of Community Revitalization will review and select the one it feels is the most competitive.

The Challenge Grant program is intended to help stimulate appropriate building rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings downtown, assist in COVID-19 recovery efforts and support local revitalization and business growth efforts.

Eligible projects must involve commercial properties within the designated downtown district and can include, but are not limited to:

  • Façade improvements (front, rear and/or side)
  • Upper floor interior rehabilitation
  • Structural repairs/improvements
  • Code compliance
  • First floor interior rehabilitation
  • Energy efficiency/sustainability improvements
  • Single specific phase of a large rehabilitation
  • Permanent physical improvements in response to COVID-19 (i.e. permanent outdoor seating areas, interior alterations to accommodate social distance measures, operable storefront windows if compatible with the building’s historic character, etc.)

Compatible new construction, including building additions with first floor commercial and upper floor commercial or residential use within the designated district is also eligible. However the razing of an existing structure to allow for new construction is not.

Multiple properties committed to a mutually-agreed upon improvement or series of improvements can also apply. All multiple properties must be connected by a common need or issue that defines the scope/type of proposed project.

There is a minimum grant asking amount of $15,000, and all applications must show a dollar-for-dollar match for the requested grant amount. In-kind contributions will be eligible for no more than 35 percent of the project’s local match. At least 65 percent of the local match must be in cash. Approved projects will have 24 months from the awarding of the grant to complete the proposed project. Any work done prior to the awarding of the grant will not be considered for funding or as part of the local match.

Applications must be submitted by the local Main Street Iowa program, so Charles City applications need to be turned into the Community Development Office at 401 North Main St. by 5 p.m. on Friday, August 14, 2020. Anyone interested in applying for the Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant is encouraged to contact Community Development Director Mark Wicks at (641) 228-4234 or mark@charlescitychamber.com for more information about the grant and scoring criteria.

Community Revitalization is volunteer-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing a strong downtown Charles City as part of a great place to live, work and play.


Get Involved

Volunteers are the life-blood of all Community Revitalization projects and programs.  The organization has developed a strong base of more than 300 volunteers and accumulated more than 163,000 volunteer hours since 1996. Through its volunteer-driven efforts, Community Revitalization has become a driving force in making Charles City a great place to live, work and play.

This truly is a community effort – all aimed at making Charles City a better place for all of us. To donate or volunteer and get involved in the community, please call us at 641-228-2335, stop in at our office at 401 N Main Street, or register online.  Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts. Working in more than 2,200 downtowns and urban neighborhoods over the last 32 years, the Main Street program has leveraged more than $55.7 billion in new public and private investment. Participating communities have created 473,535 net new jobs and 109,693 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 236,418 buildings, leveraging an average of $18 in new investment for every dollar spent on their Main Street district revitalization efforts.

Community Revitalization serves the business community by providing technical assistance and grant programs to foster a climate for business in Charles City that enables current businesses to expand and thrive; and to create an environment that encourages, assists and nurtures new businesses. As a part of Main Street Iowa, we have access to resources and expert guidance at the state and federal levels, as well as a network of other Main Street communities with which to share ideas and successful approaches elsewhere.

Business assistance opportunities include, but are not limited to:

Revolving Loan Fund

Revolving Loan Fund Grant Application

Technology Assistance Program

Design Assistance

Façade Improvement and Upper Story Grants

Facade Improvement and Upper Story Grants Application

Cultural and Entertainment District

Cultural and Entertainment District Grant Application

Since 1994, Charles City has seen 289 buildings rehabilitated or renovated, 47 buildings sold, more than $35 million in private dollars invested in rehab projects and over $6 million in private dollars invested in downtown property acquisition.

Community Revitalization also offers educational opportunities and sponsors a variety of community events intended to enhance the quality of life and bring the residents of Charles City together. Our Business Improvement Committee meets regularly to help foster further expansion and strengthening of the retail and service base in downtown Charles City. For more information, contact our office at 641-228-2335.

Some of the events organized each year by Community Revitalization are:
The Great Chili Cook-Off
Cedar River Shiver
Farmers Market
Party in the Park
Firecracker 5K
Window Decorating Contests
Holiday Home Tour
Holiday Lighted Parade

About Us

The Community Revitalization program was established in 1994 as a result of a community-wide visioning session designed to help Charles City assess where it was and where it wanted to go. The city was facing a prevalent “doom and gloom” attitude following the closing of its longtime anchor industry, the White Farm-New Idea tractor plant, as well as a slow, steady decline in retailers and population ever since the farm crisis of the 1980s. Something was needed to rally the community to action and to change the negative outlook and attitude.

Adopting the National Trust Main Street’s Four Point Approach, Charles City applied, and was accepted, as a Main Street Iowa demonstration community and given an opportunity to prove that it was serious about doing what it takes to become a certified Main Street Iowa community. Events and activities were created to bring people together and to re-instill a sense of town pride. Incentives were offered for physical improvements in the downtown district.

In 1996, all that effort paid off as Charles City was accepted as the 28th official Main Street Iowa community and has been recertified every year since. Charles City has become a showplace community with innovative initiatives and a progressive, “can do” attitude that has helped earn it such honors as a two-time Great American Main Street Award semi-finalist; an “Iowa Great Places” designation; 2012 Iowa River Town of the Year; a 2012 All-Star Community; and two-time America in Bloom national champion for overall community beautification.

Community Revitalization is a 501(c) (4) organization under the direction of a 9-member Board of Directors and employs three full-time staff members that are shared with the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce.

What truly powers the program, though, are the ideas and efforts of our volunteer community. Through 2018, Charles City has logged more than 178,000 volunteer hours since the Community Revitalization program was established. Young and old, big and small, and with a wide range of skill sets – or even none at all, just a desire to help make a difference – our volunteers are our lifeblood. They are the ones who truly make things happen.