Got an Idea? We’ve Got Momentum On Main Street

DSI is a Main Street organization, which means it organizes it activities around four pillars of revitalization: Design, Promotions, Organization and Economic Vitality.

Today’s Downtown Springfield knows that growth will only happen by undertaking economic development activities that fill the smaller vacant properties and build new foot traffic, activities that have also attracted a new generation of volunteers to work alongside DSI staff to #GSD.  

Momentum on Main Street is an initiative that grew out of DSI’s Economic Vitality committee earlier this year to help educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers.

“We really aimed to highlight and build off the positives that are already happening downtown,” said David Lee, a medical salesperson and downtown revitalization advocate who chairs the Momentum committee. “We’ve quickly gotten a lot of interest; it obviously was a message people could get behind. We’re hoping the workshops, conversations, and connections that are happening will give people the tools, and confidence, to do their project or business that they’ve been dreaming about.”

The Momentum on Main Street launch event was held March 21 at Arlington’s. More than 100 people attended to hear from current business owners about their experiences setting up shop in the downtown district and to network. All of the attendees to this free event, sponsored by the City of Springfield and US Bank, were invited to apply for scholarships either to take their business concept to the next level, or to attend an Incremental Development Alliance workshop to learn how to take on a property redevelopment without using subsidies.

CO.STARTERS SCHOLARSHIPS

Attendees at the kick-off event had the opportunity to apply for a Co.Starters scholarship, sponsored by US Bank. Co.Starters is a national nine-week program that began in Chattanooga, TN to help communities “build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems by equipping them with the best tools and resources needed.” Co.Starters in Springfield is hosted by Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator located in the heart of downtown.

Then in June, Innovate Springfield hosted their first Co.Starters Pitch Event to hear from the ten participants in the first cohort. Five of the Co.Starters cohort members received the US 

Bank scholarships as part of the Momentum on Main Street program:

  • Sarah Stahly – Sweet Scoops
  • Patrick Russell – Curtain & Leaf
  • Dayton Burntett – Trans4orm
  • Liz Hiller – Thirtsty’s Taproom
  • Thomas Phinney –  Cafe on the Rocks

Three of the Momentum “scholars” are looking to create new brick-and-mortar experiences. Sarah Stahly began her business Sweet Scoops by looking to put a unique spin on ice cream. Her ice cream choices include non-dairy and vegan. She uses substitutes like coconut milk and almond milk to make delicious flavor combinations such as Strawberry Banana & Ruby Basil or Chocolate Peanut Butter Fried Banana.

Liz Hiller had the idea for Thirsty’s Taproom, a crossroads for everything craft beer, after living in places like Chicago and North Carolina and experiencing their craft beer scene. Lately, Central Illinois has caught the craft beer bug and the movement has centered in downtown with spots like Obed & Isaac’s, Buzz Bomb Brewing Co., and Anvil & Forge Brewing. Thirsty’s Taproom would serve as a spot for patrons to try all of their favorite craft beers in one location. Thirsty’s Taproom would be a family friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on enjoying great beer and community.

Thomas Phinney, an avid rock climbing expert, and his wife Ruth plan to open an indoor “bouldering cafe” in downtown. On The Rocks Bouldering would help increase Springfield’s knowledge of bouldering, which is rock climbing without the assistance of a harness. Ultimately the business would lead regular bouldering tours in the western U.S. 

DSI’s Momentum on Main Street will be providing five more scholarships for the next Co.Starters cohort in September. If you have a great new business idea and are ready to do the work to make it a reality, fill out the application now.

FREE FOLLOW UP SESSIONS

Since the launch event, DSI has held one-hour informational sessions on a variety of related subjects, with the goal of hosting six related topics during 2019. The first covered how to start your business by selling at the Farmers Market. The second was hosted at the Lincoln Public Library and featured a panel of city staff demystifying the process of permits and licensing. 

The third Momentum on Main Street event was an interactive walking tour led by architect and owner of Square Root Architecture + Design, Jeff Sommers, to help participants discern what is needed when one buys a downtown building. He was joined by a banker and two realtors. Mark Nelson and Ed Mahoney are with Re/Max professionals. Ed has worked as a realtor in Springfield for over 30 years and was on the founding board for DSI. 

The next Momentum free session is on July 30th at Anvil and Forge Brewing. The session will be led by Lauren Silkowski of US Bank and Lashonda Fitch of Justine Petersen and will provide attendees with ideas for how to achieve financing for a business start-up. More details to follow.

 

Shop Hop with Mary Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln (as portrayed by Pam Brown) takes you on a shopping tour of downtown Springfield.

Mary Lincoln, Mrs. Fashionista of her time, is leading a weekly Saturday Shop Hop tour right in her home neighborhood of Downtown Springfield. 

Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop is a free program that is part of Visit Springfield’s History Comes Alive. Participants can get the one-of-a-kind experience to shop with a First Lady meet the owners of downtown boutiques, and discover the work of Springfield’s talented craftspeople and artists. 

The shopping tours take place every Saturday during History Comes Alive (through August 10). Just meet at 11 am at the Springfield Visitors Center, located at the Lincoln-Herdon Law office at 6th and Adams Streets. Shop Hop tours run 45 minutes and consist of three downtown shops. 

Mary Lincoln is the inspiration for the Shop Hop because of her knack for fashion and love of shopping during her time in Springfield and DC. She was known to own beautiful gowns, usually only purchased when Abraham Lincoln was out of town. During the mid-1850’s in Springfield, it would not have been uncommon to see Mary Lincoln at locations like John William’s general store or in the shop of dressmaker Mrs. Labarthe. She was known to own a dress that cost more than two month’s pay for a typical Springfield family of the time.

Credit: Getty Images

In addition to her beautiful dresses, the bonnets that Mary Lincoln would wear also verified her fashionista status. Mary could have been seen wear decorative bonnets with long sashes that were typically made by the French. 

Even when the Lincolns moved to Washington, D.C., Mary kept up her lavish fashion life. She was known to wear brilliant outfits that resembled the likes of European women of the time. She was often referred to as “The Illinois Reine” because she resembled royalty.

Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop is a wonderful way to learn a little more about our 16th President’s First Lady and get a little shopping in at the same time. Where else but downtown could you experience this historic mashup? 

Thank you to our partners at Visit Springfield, Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop possible!

 

A Downtown Resource: How the Davis Family Has Helped Shape Our Neighborhood

On the corner of Fourth and Adams sits Resource One, office design specialists and a supplier of quality furniture. Resource One has operated out of their location at 321 E Adams Street since 1992. You could say that their location and industry gave them literal “front row seats” to how the downtown area has developed over the last three decades; the truth is that both generations of the family-run business have also spent countless hours helping to mold downtown’s future.  

As they have grown their business, Cindy Davis and two of her children Lauren and Chris have also volunteered alongside other business owners and advocates to make the neighborhood a more active and interesting place.

Cindy Davis is the co-founder and CEO of Resource One. She served as a DSI board member and Board President in 2003-2004. She can be credited with helping to bring two of DSI’s most interesting and longstanding tours to fruition. The story goes that Cindy attended a Main Street conference in Elgin, where the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s Anthony Rubano — a Springfieldian — led participants on a tour of Elgin’s downtown. Of course, DSI needed to replicate the experience in our own historic downtown and started with one walking tour a year. Now, thanks to its popularity, each summer from May to October, on the first Wednesday of the month, Anthony leads DSI’s free Architectural Walking Tour.

Cindy also worked as a board member with DSI’s first full-time executive director, Valicia Crisafulli, to develop the Upper Story Tour. A few weeks ago, DSI hosted its 19th tour of upper story commercial and residential spaces that are not always open to the general public. The event also serves as a fundraiser for DSI’s work to match property owners with potential tenants and to help manage the shift in ownership which happens every generation.

Cindy’s son, Chris Davis, is in sales and Business Development at Resource One. Following in his mother’s footsteps in both business and volunteer time, Chris started getting involved when DSI privately fundraised for and implemented a creative placemaking project on the Old State Capitol Plaza. Thanks to private donations, DSI worked with the City to hang cafe lighting, provide colorful tables and chairs, and bags games and a ping-pong table. DSI shopped local as they always try to do and Chris helped determine the appropriate design and colors for the tables and chairs. After several meetings to discuss the activation project, Chris came away as an advocate for trying new concepts and not being afraid of change.

Chris then joined the Economic Vitality committee; one of their subcommittees created the Momentum on Main Street program, which is geared to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers. Chris and the other committee members brought corporate, educational and city interests together to demystify the process to invest in downtown. The next free Momentum session is July 30th to provide information about financing options. 

While the Davis family certainly is proud to have made Resource One a family business, they have also helped to welcome others in the downtown neighborhood as family. When describing what is most enjoyable about their downtown location, Chris says, “It’s the downtown family. We take pride in each other’s businesses and we take ownership in each other’s businesses. We share problems, challenges and victories. And I feel like we are starting to enjoy more and more victories.”

 

Kids Day at the Market

DSI’s Old Capitol Farmers Market presented by HSHS St. John’s Hospital encourages kids and their parents to come interact with the market and learn healthy habits during Kids Day at the Market. The event takes place during the Old Capitol Farmers Market from 8:00 am- 12:30 pm on Saturday, July 20th. There will be activities throughout the morning in the US Bank Parking lot located at Fourth and Adams. 

The first 500 kids to arrive at Kids Day will receive a $2 token that they may use to purchase a treat at participating market vendors. Kids Day is free to the public because of the generosity of sponsors including Davis Financial Group, West Central Bank, and The Baker Group.

Kids Day at the Market is in partnership with Kidzeum in celebration of their one year anniversary of opening their doors last summer. The Kidzeum website has a full list of anniversary activities. Kidzeum will be open from 10:00am-5:00pm to the general public.

Kids Day at the Market promotes healthy choices through activity stations like a yoga session with Ah Yoga at 9:00 am and a Chef Demonstration with Chef Michael Higgins from Maldaner’s Restaurant at 9:30 am. There will also be an interactive arts project for kids courtesy of Phoenix Collision providing a car for kids to mosaic. The Springfield Youth Performance Group will perform at 10:30 am. 

Numerous children-focused groups and organizations, including the Junior League of Springfield, Northside Children’s Community Library, GenHKids, Central Baptist Church, Lincoln Library, and the Abraham Lincoln Council Boy Scouts of America will also be attending to provide fun, free activities on Kids Day.

We encourage kids and their families to attend the Old Capitol Farmers Market, not only on Kids Day, but all season long on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm at 4th and Adams.

 

 

Plants Native to Illinois Help Beautify Downtown

(not in order pictured) Volunteers Grace Norris, Susan Helm, Patty Morton, Erin Svendsen, Michael Higgins and Kathy Wright

A group of volunteers spent a recent Wednesday morning helping to beautify downtown with plants native to Illinois.

The idea bubbled up from members of DSI’s Design Committee, who worked with master gardener Susan Helm to develop a plan and find grant funding to conduct a pilot program in downtown’s planters.

A key member of the group is Michael Higgins, who recently won a Sustainable Springfield award for the work he’s done to utilize his Maldaner’s Restaurant rooftop to achieve sustainable goals, including installing solar panels, a beehive and a native plant container to support native pollinators. Energy use at the restaurant has been reduced by 20% over the past five years. Take-out containers are provided in compostable containers and most recently plastic straws were replaced with paper straws, the first downtown business to make the switch.

For the downtown planters project, Higgins, Helm and Erin Svendsen of SAA collaborated with the Illinois Native Plant Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the City of Springfield to develop their plan. They successfully won a grant from the Springfield Civic Garden Club, which donated proceeds its Annual Plant Sale to garden-related projects for a charitable organization.

The newly-planted planters will beautify the downtown area but also serve two other important functions: saving the City of Springfield money by utilizing perennials and attracting pollinators, which are an important part of the ecosystem and have been diminishing. The different species of plants used range from flowers like Coneflower and Poppy Mallow to plants like White Sage and Prairie Dropseed. Along with these plants native to Illinois, the downtown planters project added herbs for texture and pollinator value.

Each pot is essentially an entire pollinator garden. You can find them on both sides of 6th Street from Monroe to Adams Street. They are also on Adams Street between 6th and 7th Streets. Depending on the success of this first pilot project, look for an expansion to other planters in the downtown area in the coming years.

An Art Deco Gem

In honor of our first Architectural Walking Tour of the season, which takes place on Wednesday, May 1, Cinda Ackerman Klickna contributed this blog post about the 88-year-old building which houses the organization that she led for six years as President.

The Illinois Education Association building at 100 E. Edwards is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in downtown Springfield. Built in 1931 by Rockford architects Horn and Sandburg, it houses the offices of the largest union in Illinois. The IEA, with a current membership of 133,000, includes teachers and support staff, Pre-K through higher ed, plus retired members and students studying to become teachers.

IEA has a long history, starting as the Illinois State Teachers’ Institute in 1853. A constitution was written with the preamble explaining why the association was needed: “…believing that the organization of a State Teachers’ Institute is not only essential to raise the standard of teaching but conducive to the promotion of the of the greatest diffusion of knowledge throughout our
State.”

Membership grew over the years after many conventions with as many as 5000 teachers attending and with support of the legislature. In 1857, by an act of the Illinois Legislature, the name was changed to the Illinois State Teachers’ Association. The Association had by then helped to establish the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a regular full-time elected office (today the position is appointed by the Governor). In 1857, the Association helped establish Illinois State Normal University. It wasn’t until 1936 that the name became what it is today, the Illinois Education Association, because membership grew to include more than teachers.

By the 1920s, a small office served the membership; in 1925, the delegates to the annual meeting called the Representative approved money for the purchase of land and construction of a building in Springfield. A location with close proximity to the State Capitol was important so that legislative work could be continued.

Two lots on Edwards Street were purchased for $15,000. A two-story building was completed in 1931, named the William Bishop Owen Building in honor of the association’s former president who had worked to establish a permanent headquarters. The building cost $45,300.

The architects, Horn and Sandburg, designed a box-shaped structure using Indiana limestone. The facade has never changed. Four fluted carved columns rise two stories and are capped with a sunrise and geometric design. The sunrise and geometric pattern is repeated above the entrance.

Expansion occurred in 1953; the Centennial Addition was so named in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Association. The two-story addition on the back end, costing $134,000, added much needed space for offices and meetings. And in 1960, another addition, creating a “T,” was added to the back.  The ell wing, extending to the east, was added in the 1980’s.

Although the interior has been modernized with new windows, lighting, and air systems throughout the years, some parts of the original building can still be seen. Stairwells with wood railings, woodwork around glass panels, heavy doors, old radiators and grill vents add charm to the building.

IEA, a non-profit member of Downtown Springfield Inc., continues its original mission: to improve the quality of teaching by raising issues, working on legislation that helps students and raising the awareness of the needs of students and educators for successful public schools in every community.

All the Deets for Open Streets

For the second year, DSI is hosting Downtown Open Streets presented by Memorial Health System!! The event takes place on the paved streets around the Old State Capitol on Saturday, May 4 “May the Fourth Be With You” from 11-3, so there’s plenty of time to participate and watch the Kentucky Derby later that day….

Open Streets temporarily opens streets to people and closes them to cars. People can travel the loop from Washington Street to 5th to Monroe Street to 6th on their bikes, skateboards, skates, by foot or otherwise and enjoy the activity hubs on the “spokes” around the Old State Capitol and on Monroe and Adams.

Mosquito Joe “Outside is Fun Again” and a bevy of Springfield organizations will be providing health, fitness & FUN activities for all ages — ALL FOR FREE!

Old State Capitol Plaza

The first 200 attendees at the event will get a free drawstring backpack/shopping bag by visiting the DSI Information Booth on the Old State Capitol Plaza. Maps and times of all of the activities will also be available. Families should also stop by the Ace Bike Shop Corral on 6th at Adams Street to be entered in a drawing for an adolescent’s bike valued at $239. The drawing for the bike will be held at 1:30 pm right before the Bicycle Parade that starts at 6th and Washington.

Plus, “check out” new and gently used paperbacks and hardbacks for free from Land of Lincoln Bookshare.

5th Street between Washington and Monroe

Check your health knowledge and your blood pressure with Memorial; get a first look at Springfield’s coming BikeShare program, Gotcha; play bingo with Girls on the Run; practice Yoga with Willow City Farm’s goats and puppies; watch a performance by Dance Creations Dance Studio; do some crafts with Lincoln Memorial Garden; and learn about roller derby from the MidState Mayhem Roller Derby women’s team and Capital City Hooligans men’s teams.

Adams Street between 4th and 5th

Get ready for the 1:30 pm Bicycle Parade by decorating your bike with US Kiddos and Central Baptist Church; play “old-school” playground games in front of the Kidzeum; and get your portrait taken at the Curtain and Leaf booth.

Adams Street between 6th and 7th

Park your bike for free at the Ace Bike Shop Bike Corral and register for a childrens’ bike giveaway; stop by The Pharmacy Gallery & Art Space for the 2 pm public ribbon cutting; and test your abilities at Springfield Bicycle Club’s fun obstacle course.

6th and Washington Streets

Participate in the “Bicycle Parade”  at 1:30 pm; enjoy a performance by Springfield Youth Performance Group; take a free boot camp class every half hour with 180 Fitness; sign up to start running with Springfield Road Runners Club with their Abe’s Army program; watch experienced skateboarders in a Ramp Jam hosted by Boof City Skate Shop or learn tips for beginners; and make wind chimes with Wild Rose.

6th and Monroe Streets

Enjoy a Plant It bar with succulents and air plants with The Roost; make on-demand screen-printed T-shirts at Murphy’s Loft; look at APL animals to adopt with Studio on Sixth, enjoy 50% off select items in the store, and participate in Studio’s Sidewalk Chalk Drawing Contest, with prizes for every participant.

Monroe Street between 4th and 7th

Take free classes provided by the YMCA including street hockey, basketball, zumba spin class, and more; sit on the street in Custom Cup’s colorful tables and chairs; and enjoy a live band performance on an outdoor stage thanks to Dumb Records.

Get up-t0-the-minute posts on DSI’s Facebook event page.

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.

 

 

 

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