Three Questions for the Candidates

Election season is almost over, and before you roll your eyes, consider how important it is that we elect people from every ward who understand the value of a revitalized downtown. The City of Springfield is DSI’s primary partner in the work that we do, and the work that we do benefits the entire city, any which way you look at it: whether tax base, corporate and medical recruitment,  making our young people want to come home, building out an entrepreneurial culture.

So first, we thanked the men and women who are running to make a difference in Springfield. It takes a lot of personal time, patience, caring and perseverance to run for elected office.

Then — we asked them three questions. The topics were:
1) future of the Y Block,
2) TIF Policy and
3) partnership with DSI.

Read the candidates’ responses here.

Voting ends at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 2. If you haven’t cast your ballot yet, the County Clerk’s office in the Sangamon County Courthouse on 9th Street is open all weekend for early voting. Download the hours here.

Meet our Farmers Market Team

Hey, Farmers Market fans! We’d like you to introduce you to Mollie Ringer, DSI’s Market Manager for the 20th season of the Old Capitol Farmers Market.

A lifelong resident of Springfield, Mollie’s enthusiasm for working for nonprofit organizations started in college at Illinois State University where she completed an internship with the Children’s Discovery Museum. There she found passion working with youth and fundraising for the community.

Mollie’s non-profit resume includes the Appalachia Service Project, Illinois Grape Growers and Vintner’s Association, and most recently, Hope. She has also been active as a volunteer for DSI events.

“Coming from a farming family, I am very excited to have the opportunity to connect farmers with local consumers and to educate the community about the available healthy products and produce right in their backyard,” says Mollie.

Mollie will be joined on Market Days by Market Assistant Kailey Connour, who graduated from UIS in August with a BA in Environmental Studies. Kailey’s interests include sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and anything to do with the Ocean (as her long-time goals include working with marine wildlife). “Springfield has been my home for the past three years and I’m excited to see the extra steps that the city is taking towards a better city and a greater environment,” said Kailey.

The Market management team will oversee a 12-month calendar which includes the Old Capitol Farmers Market from May 18-October 26; two Holiday Markets in November and December; and a monthly Winter Market from January – April 2020.

This is the first year that DSI has taken on the role of producing a year-round market, taking over day-to-day management of the Holiday Markets and Winter Markets which were started by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, in addition to the summer-time Old Capitol Farmers Market, which has been managed by DSI since 1999.

The vendor application for the 2019 Old Capitol Farmers Market is now live.

Some Market dates to jot down on your calendar:

May 18 – Grand Opening of the Old Capitol Farmers Market

July 20 – Kids Day at the Market/Kidzeum One-Year Anniversary

September 5 – Friends of the Market Street Dinner (tickets go on sale in July)

October 26 – Halloween at the Market

Calling Artists for 2019 Art Alley Challenge

Artist Immanuel Ahiable greeting friends and family during our first Art Alley Pop Up.

This year’s Art Alley III Pop Up takes place on Saturday, September 14 — with a twist. Seven selected artists or artistic teams will “compete” by completing a mural in only one day. As night falls, we’ll gather for our Pop Up Party, where guests can vote for their favorite mural — so that we can give the artists prizes! — and to celebrate Springfield’s artistic community.

Tickets are not yet available but all proceeds will benefit DSI’s ARTification Public Art Program.

The Call for Artists has been released thanks to our partners at Springfield Art Association. Please download the Call for Artists and apply today: Art Alley III Mural Competition Call FINAL

Thank you to our sponsors Solomon Colors and Springfield Electric!

You can get your tickets now!  Click here for more details.

 

 

 

Next Steps: Momentum on Main Street

The kick-off was great — but the more important question is, what happens next?

If you attended…

the Momentum on Main Street Meet-up and Presentation, don’t forget to apply for one of the US Bank scholarships before April 1. Check your email for details!

Free How-To Sessions for Anyone

Wednesday, April 24
4:00pm – 5:30pm, Buzz Bomb Brewery
Turning Your Home Kitchen into a Business and Getting Started at the Farmers Market
RSVP Here
Molly Gleason of Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Mollie Ringer, the Manager of the Old Capitol Farmers Market, will lead this session.

Wednesday, May 29
12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lincoln Library
Permits and City Hall- Who You Need to Know and Where You Need to Go
RSVP Here
Abby Powell, TIF Manager at the City of Springfield, will demystify the process for you.

Wednesday, June 26
4:00pm – 5:30pm, The Incubator
Vacant Building Walk-Through: What To Consider Before You Buy
RSVP Here
Architect Jeff Sommers will show you what to look for when you’re seeking downtown space.

Follow DSI to find out when we schedule the next three sessions on various topics or suggest a topic to the committee via email

Ready to Accelerate Your Idea Using the Co.Starters 9-week series at Innovate Springfield?

The best candidate for the CO.STARTERS program is either someone with a new idea for a business, or an existing business looking to become more sustainable, launch a new product or service, or scale.

Participants will receive guidance for a process to figure out whether or not an idea is good and how to change it to make it work; the ability to better articulate how their businesses work; defined next steps needed to move forward; and a community of peers and support.

Sessions run on Monday evenings from 5:30 PM-8:30 PM. The first cohort begins April 25th. Learn more.

Potential Investors

We’ll be rolling out our next steps to match-make potential investors with good projects in the downtown neighborhood in the coming weeks, based on the Meet-up Survey. Let us know if you’re interested in hearing about potential good investments, we’ll add you to the list.

 

Thank you to the City of Springfield for your investments in DSI’s work which makes the Momentum on Main Street series possible.

Era of Exploration for First Presbyterian Church

A church with historic significance, a grant opportunity, and a group that could help figure out a better way to use 36,000 of underutilized square feet: the First Presbyterian Church at 7th and Capitol, known for its red front door, started off this year with a soul-searching process that could greatly benefit not only the downtown community but all of Springfield.

Flashback nine months ago: Pastor Susan Phillips was only into her new post for a few months and asking normal-new-job questions such as, “Why do we do this? What if we did that?”  Sarah Watson, a parishioner who is the Executive Director of Looking for Lincoln/ A. Lincoln National Heritage Area, read of a grant opportunity through National Heritage that was available for religious groups. The grant could bring in Partners for Sacred Places, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation and use of historic, religious sites. Phillips and Watson had a conversation.

Pastor Phillips leads a tour of the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Phillips says, “Members of the congregation were discussing our future – do we stay downtown and do some renovation, or move to another site? Our church is rooted in history; we cherish our tradition of social justice and have been an incubator of programs. We wanted, though, to look at how we could serve the community in new ways.”

Along with another parishioner, Mary Beth Stephens, the three realized the church was a “hidden gem in downtown,” as Stephens says.

They won the grant, which paid for Sacred Places to lead a community development process that helps identify assets, not only in the church but also in the surrounding community, called Asset Mapping.

Community leaders with a wide range of interests and positions were invited to attend a three-hour Convening session on January 19. The invitees were promised that the session wasn’t a fundraising pitch, but that they needed to bring their “energy and imagination,” Stephens says. “The program was meant to be a jumping off point for the congregation to reach back out to the community, like we used to do.”

The exterior of the oldest part of the church is shored up with beams.

The day of the Convening turned out to be one with inclement weather, but over 40 people showed up anyway. Watson says, “I was thrilled that the group showed up on a snowy, Saturday morning, all with an interest in Springfield and downtown.” The participants toured the church, many amazed at the large number of nooks and crannies–and potential. They then broke into groups to identify strengths and resources and list assets of the community, the church, and the neighborhood.

Phillips, Watson, and Stephens all share that the meeting led to wonderful discussion. People developed potential ideas how the church’s space could be used to address community needs and even started to collaborate on ideas beyond what might happen at the church itself. For example, the fact that the church’s sanctuary is 150 years old and the Lincoln family pew is on display in the lobby made attendees say that the church should include more about the Lincoln connection in Springfield tourism. (Fun fact: Only Eagle Scouts may sit on the pew.)

Ideas for space included renting out rooms for meetings, a hang-out for legislators,  space for artists-in-residence, tapping into the Homeless Outreach Team, offering counseling for homeless, and providing trainings or classes. “Whatever is decided,” Phillips says, “these activities need to help us partner in broader, deeper ways to better serve people and the community.”

To be fully utilized, the church needs renovation. There are many sections that are inaccessible and not up to ADA code. But, there are many rooms. Water availability in many rooms would make it possible to host art classes. There are offices and a library, a commons area connected to a kitchen and a kitchenette, a lounge, computer lab, even a movie theater room. Sacred Places will ultimately help the congregation figure out how the space could be upgraded and re-purposed for today’s community needs.

The next step is to present the asset mapping ideas and discussion to the congregation, receive input, review, reflect and then decide which direction(s) to take. Phillips calls this in-between period, “Rooted and Reaching.” By the end of the Sacred Places process, the congregation will have determined how to, once again, use its beautiful, historic home base to its fullest potential, reaching out to the community and partnering with other organizations.

Stephens adds, “We know it will take time, and we don’t want to lose momentum. This is a wonderful thing we’ve started.”

Cinda Ackerman Klickna is sharing her talents with the downtown community by contributing interesting stories to our blog. First Presbyterian Church is a non-profit member of DSI.

St. Patty’s Downtown Details

Whether you’re Irish or not, downtown Springfield rolls out the green carpet to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Not sure how to plan your weekend? Here are a few ideas for Saturday:

7 am – ?
Breakfast Plates from Nico’s Homestyle at Anvil & Forge
Later that day, the Gyros Stop Food Truck will serve with Edward David Anderson playing from 5-8pm for some great live music!

7 am – 10 am
5th Annual Kegs ‘N Eggs 2019 at Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
Join QLZ’s Mo Lightning and Kyle Hutchinson as Cooper’s StrEATside Bistro will serving FREE breakfast tacos, eggs, hashbrowns, French toast and more. Grab your seat in the front window or upstairs for the parade.

9 am – Sunday 1 am
Parade Route Outdoor Party at The Incubator
Start inside with a continental breakfast including green eggs, sausage and bacon. Then at 11 am, the party moves outdoors for domestic beer, Irish coffees until 5 pm.

9 am
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run
Start your day with a workout and join in with friends for a 2 mile run/walk to kick off the Parade and Irish festivities! First 317 registered will receive a commemorative pint glass. Race starts and finishes on Washington St. between 5th & 6th with a post-race party at The Alamo.

9 am – 2 pm
Irish Breakfast at VELE
Serving homemade biscuits & gravy, bloody marys, mimosas & cold beer at their restaurant along the parade route.

9 am – 8 pm
Dumb Records’ New Location
Stop by Dumb Records to check out their new location at 418 E Monroe (near Gallina’s).

9 am – 1 pm
Winter Farmer’s Market at The State House Inn
Another way to start the day in a healthy way is to shop more than 30 vendors selling farm-fresh fare including sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, turnips, winter squash, sunchokes, fresh greens and salad mixes, kale, pecans, honey, apples, apple cider, cheese, pastured pork and poultry, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and local lamb. Plus baked goods, pies, gingerbread men, cookies, jams, jellies, and spices.
Kids activities will be provided by Slow Food Springfield and Kiddos by Urban Sassafras. Hot lunch will be available for purchase from Smart Natured.

10 am – ?
Shop of the Mornin’ To Ya
Pop into one of the cute boutiques along the parade route at 6th and Monroe — Corrine’s Closet, Studio on 6th or Murphy’s Loft — for a St. Patrick’s Day-themed purchase or just to browse what’s new!

10:30 am
#AdamsFamily Breakfast Bar at Buzz Bomb
Enjoy Café Moxo breakfast and a specialty cocktail from Just the Basics Catering for $25. Later that day, Jermaine Bollinger will play from 8-10 pm.

11 am – 10 pm
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Nu~Voh
Serving corned beef & cabbage, reuben sandwiches, bangers & smash along with their regular menu.

 

Photo by the State Journal-Register of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Springfield.

11 am
Parade Family Fun Area
The Parade Committee put together a whole area for the kids to run wile on the Old State Capitol lawn, with inflatables, bagpipes, Irish dancers and more.  Plus it’s FREE!

 

Craic o’ noon
35th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The 35th Annual Springfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off at the craic o’noon!

 

Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

On, January 23rd, Downtown Springfield, Inc hosted their 26th Annual Awards Dinner highlighting the people and places that make downtown the hub for culture in Springfield. One very special award went to Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records for his tireless work in our community. Here is the speech the Past DSI Director, Victoria Ringer gave while announcing her dear friend as the recipient of the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award:

I am Honored to be presenting the Wally Henderson LifeTime Achievement Award
this evening. Wally and his wife Brynn came to mean a lot to me and my husband
Doug. Our recipient and his wife have also be like Wally, this man has made his
mark on downtown by saying exactly what he thinks, working harder than the
average guy, giving back to his community and pulling no punches. 

In fact, as did Wally, our recipient would often call the DSI office and give his
opinion, often with volume and passion, on an issue affecting downtown. He would
always end the conversation with “you know I love ya, right”. Yep, I did.
When it comes to historical knowledge, business savvy, and the ability to
communicate I always knew where to send the media when they were looking for a
good interview or story. Running a family business that has been in the same
location for over 100 years takes stamina, the ability to acclimate to good and bad
economic situations, and character.

What once began as a downtown furniture store has evolved into a national
destination for collectors, famous musicians and people wanting to have a real
experience when shopping for jewelry, vintage items and, of course, music. You will
find an experienced staff, unusual displays and one constant overseeing the entire
menagerie.

Not unlike a fine vinyl record, this man has unique grooves, a crisp voice and the
ability to make a difference in the way you feel just by having a listen.
It is my great pleasure to present the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award
to Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records.

 

Other winners of the night included:

Best Retail: The Roost

Best Restaurant: VELE

Best Not for Profit Initiative:  Lincoln Library and Director Will O’Hearn

2018 Most Impactful Public-Private Partnership: Kidzeum of Health and Science and the City of Springfield

Green Leadership: Kevin Greene

Best Renovation: St. George Apartments – Josh Wagoner

Best Creative Promotion: Hashtag Adams Family developed by Mark Forinash, Cafe Moxo

Best 2018 Event: Old Capitol Blues and BBQ Festival

Best Nightlife: Buzz Bomb Brewery

Bicentennial Award: Illinois Governor Mansions Association & Illinois REALTORS

Downtown Advocate of the Year: Linda Renehan

Volunteer of the Year: Brenda Stroh

 

To read more about the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award, see the article posted in the SJ-R

Congrats to Our “Best Of” 2018 Nominees

Our 2017 Best Restaurant, Long Nine Junction, has a big 2019 in store — with their first child on the way in March, and the recent announcement of their Top 20 ranking among all restaurants in the US by Yelp.

Each year, Downtown Springfield Inc., the downtown business association and neighborhood revitalization champion comes together as a community for the organization’s Annual Dinner, which takes place on Wed., January 23, 2019 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel a Doubletree by Hilton. Thanks to the Doubletree and our Co-Host sponsors, AT&T and Watts Copy Systems.

Although tickets are no longer available, fans of downtown can still support DSI’s revitalization work by bidding on our Silent Auction, which is available online. You’ll get minute-by-minute updates on the status of the items you want to bid on by going to https://dsiawards.givesmart.com. Thanks to the Illinois REALTORS for sponsoring our Silent Auction system this year!

The highlight of the Dinner is the Annual “Best Of” Awards presented to the people and businesses who were the most buzzworthy in the prior year. The public nominated every category, and then the nominations were all vetted by a DSI committee consisting of current members and Past Presidents of the organization.

DSI does not release names of nominees of the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award, the DSI Volunteer of the Year Award, or the Downtown Advocate Award. This year, DSI will present a special Bicentennial Award as well.

DSI is proud to announce the following 2018 nominees:

Best Retail
The Roost
Studio on 6th
Wild Rose

Best Restaurant
VELE
Maldaner’s
Long Nine Junction

Best Night Life
Buzz Bomb Brewery
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
Hoogland Center for the Arts

Best Event
Old Capitol Blues & BBQ
Springfield Jaycees Xmas Parade
Legacy of Giving Music Festival

Best Creative Promotion
#AdamsFamily by Mark Forinash, Cafe Moxo
Dumb Records’ Record of the Night/Moving
Obed & Isaac’s Bus Wine Tour

Green Leadership
Maldaner’s/Michael Higgins
Kevin Greene, Springfield Bicycle Advisory Council
Wind Solar USA

Best Overall Renovation
St. George Apartments – Josh Wagoner
Anvil & Forge
Willow & Birch

Impactful Public/Private Partnership
Innovate Springfield/ University of Illinois Springfield
Obed & Isaac’s/Fire Dept/MMC Burn Unit Station – One Porter event
Kidzeum/City of Springfield

Best Not-For-Profit Initiative
Gift of Hope’s Banner Campaign
Lincoln Library’s Homeless Outreach
PCASA’s Dare to be Different Fashion Show

Thanks for Your Votes! Downtown Springfield is a 2019 Levitt AMP Concert Site

The Y Block in Downtown Springfield will be the site of 10 free music concerts in summer 2019 thanks to the announcement that Springfield will receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation.

Downtown Springfield was chosen as a recipient after a nationwide vote with 41 communities vying for the music matching grant. Thanks, Springfield, for your votes!

The Levitt AMP [Your City] grant program has several criteria:
1) to activate an underutilized space;
2) to provide a variety of music and performers;
3) and to bring a community together through music.

The application was submitted by Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield, Inc. and Springfield Area Arts Council with a support letter from the City of Springfield.

Are you in a band or know of a band that you’d like to see play on the Y Block next summer? Email us at levittamp@downtownspringfield.org.

We will launch an RFP process to find organizations who want to partner with us to program an evening, as well as bands, in January or February.

We expect to announce the lineup by April 1, 2019.

Concerts will be held on Thursday evenings from May 30 – August 1.

We’re also looking for corporate and family sponsors to help us match the grant! Contact us to find out the benefits of sponsoring free music for our community.

2018 Record Breaking Season for Old Capitol Farmer’s Market

The Old Capitol Farmer’s Market celebrated its 19th season as a DSI program in 2018, with record breaking attendance and sales. From mid-May through October, each Wednesday & Saturday morning, the market is held on Adams Street and 4th. It boasts a total of 70 different vendors throughout the season, selling a wide variety of locally-grown and hand-crafted products, contributing to the economic, environmental and social well-being of downtown as well as the entire Springfield community.

This past summer season was the third year that DSI has partnered with Illinois Stewardship Alliance to manage the day-to-day market operations, and Springfield Area Arts Council to program the music. We are also indebted to our premier sponsor, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, plus supporting partners which include Central Baptist Church, The Dinges Family, Chef Michael Higgins, Springfield Youth Performance Group, Midwest Family, the Kidzeum, SpringfieldMoms.org and many more entities and individuals.

“The Market is a celebration of everything that is Springfield, and the partners are really proud of it,” says Market Manager Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant. “Shoppers can find everything from green zebra-striped heirloom tomatoes specially bred to thrive in this region, to homemade blueberry donuts made by local bakers using blueberries grown in the Springfield area. But the market is so much more than a great place to shop; it’s also a great investment in the community.”

2018 Season by the numbers:

  • NEW record: 65,856 total adult and child visitors (10% increase!)
  • NEW record: $23,377 spent by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers to increase their healthy food intake (43% increase!)
  • NEW record: $11,839 Credit/Debit transactions at the Market Booth (13% increase!)
  • 60 Local & Family-Owned Businesses
  • your Farmers Market food traveled 38.9 miles to get to you
  • 30% Women-Owned Businesses
  • 1733 lbs of fresh produce donated

The economic impact on Springfield is easy to see. According to the National Farmers Market Coalition, sales at locally owned businesses infuse three times more back into the local economy than chain retailers.

Download the visual 2018 OCFM Impact Report.

All Incomes Being Able to Buy

This year, the Market was able to match $10,932 of the SNAP sales thanks to Link-Up Illinois Grant offered by Experimental Station, for a total of $23,377 dollars that went directly back into the pockets of local farms and businesses. The SNAP Match program ensures that families of all income levels across Springfield have access to fresh, wholesome food and that SNAP dollars stay local. This year a new partnership with the

Junior League of Springfield helped increase the capacity for staffing, program planning, and data collection for the SNAP program.

Thanks to a new program in partnership with GenHKids, during 10 Market dates from July 25th – Oct. 3rd, farmers were able to provide 1,733 pounds of fresh produce for low-income families throughout Springfield, furthering the Market as a driver of social good.

Downtown restaurants shop weekly at the Farmers Market.

Economic Spillover for Downtown Revitalization

The #AdamsFamily continues to grow, thanks to the foot traffic created by the Farmers Market and the ability for entrepreneurs to test out their products and grow a fan base. Two 2017 vendors made the move to new brick-and-mortar homes on Adams Street in 2018: Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. and the Itty Bitty Fashion Truck.  Custom Cup Coffee also celebrated its final season selling at the Market, having started as a vendor several years ago and now running a thriving brick-and-mortar location on Monroe.

More Fresh Than Anywhere

Environmentally, farmers and food vendors at the Market travel 38.9 miles one way to bring their products to market, a carbon footprint that is significantly less than that of food on grocery shelves, which travels an average of 1200 miles. Market staff inspect new farm vendors to verify that all products are grown by the farmers and not purchased from wholesale auctions or out-of-state, ensuring that all dollars stay local and truly support area family farms. We work hard so that you can trust that our market is truly “local” and “fresh.”

Award-Winning

The Market remains one of the most popular attractions in downtown. This year, the Market received three accolades: Best Fresh Produce and Best Weekend Activity by the State Journal-Register, and Best Free Entertainment by Illinois Times. According to visitor counts recorded in 2018, 65,856 total adult and children visited the market (an average of 2,634 each Saturday) with a record-shattering 7,299 patrons on opening day, Saturday, May 19.

Chef demonstrations, educational displays by partners, and family fitness programs make the Market more than just a place to shop. St. John’s Hospital offered free health screenings, and a number of community groups offered services, such as free books from the Land of Lincoln Book Share, meditation with the Student Yoga and Mindfulness Project, and a weekly Local Business tent we added as another form of community collaboration.

We also would like to thank the City of Springfield Office of Public Works for helping ensure the safety of the streets where the Market comes alive every single week and the Convention & Visitors Bureau for promoting it to our city’s visitors.

What’s Next for the Market?

Fortunately for Springfield, the final Holiday Market takes place at the State House Inn at 2nd and Adams on December 22, and a Winter Market will take place there once a month from January – April. For a full schedule, see our calendar of events.

Next year we’ll celebrate our 20th year! Contact us if you want to be involved as a sponsor or a community group.

 

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