Main Street Monthly - November

Main Street logo

Main Street Monthly

A monthly publication from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs

Grey Bar
New IMS Levels

Indiana Main Street program opens with new levels

On Nov. 9, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced improvements to the Indiana Main Street program and will begin accepting applications for new organizations to join the program.

“It was crucial for the Indiana Main Street program to align with national standards and other state programs, which is why OCRA took the time to thoroughly review and research improvements,” said Matt Crouch, Interim Executive Director of OCRA. “Implementing a new levels structure allows OCRA to better serve and support communities that are actively working the Main Street Approach, while also cultivating their capacity for future growth.”

Crouch said after much consultation with the Indiana Main Street Council and National Main Street Center, OCRA decided to adopt the Indiana Main Street Levels. This system allows member communities to engage in long-range planning and downtown revitalization at three distinct levels:

  • OCRA’s Downtown Affiliate Network: organizations that lack capacity/resources to work the four points holistically, prefer to specialize in event-related activities only, or lack the physical/historical capacity necessary to qualify as a Main Street;
  • Indiana Accredited Main Street: working the Four Points effectively but may lack a paid staff person and/or a paid membership to National Main Street Center; and/or
  • Nationally Accredited Main Street: meeting all MSA’s Accreditation standards.

“The Indiana Main Street Program is a great tool to support Hoosier communities as they use their unique qualities to stand out,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “These new improvements should help encourage more Main Street programs to get off the ground and develop long-term revitalization plans.”

Resources are available on our website that detail the new levels system to include informational webinars, guides and more. Information on how to apply for new organizations are also available. Here are a few we recommend you start with:

Please visit our website to review all the materials, or contact your OCRA Community Liaison with questions.

OCRA map

Continue to send us small businesses for our online map

Have you checked out the new Small Business Saturday Map? Continue to submit the small businesses you wish to highlight by completing this online form and placing them into reference categories. The map will continue to be updated as we collect your submissions.

How to Develop a Comprehensive Work Plan Training

Beginning at noon on Dec. 1, Indiana Main Street communities are invited to attend an online session on how to develop a comprehensive work plan lead by a National Main Street Center Senior Program Officer. The training covers how to craft downtown strategies and how to turn your project list into an effective plan for fundraising and volunteer development. Many communities will be recovering from COVID-19 as they enter 2021, but planning efforts should still continue. This session will help your Main Street board and committees to develop projects with measurable outcomes.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Suffrage marker

New Irvington marker celebrates Indiana Suffragist Grace Clarke

On Saturday, Nov. 7, the Indiana Historical Bureau placed a marker commemorating the life of Grace Julian Clarke, a resident of Irvington, at her home at 115 S. Audubon.

Jackie-New Marker 1

OCRA’s own, Jackie Swihart, worked closely with the Indiana Historical Bureau to raise funds for the marker as well as writing her master’s thesis on this influential suffragist.

Grace is the daughter and granddaughter of noted abolitionists and members of the U.S. Congress. She grew up in Washington, D.C. where her father was a Representative until 1871. She was exposed to the ideas of social reform at an early age, which continued after the family moved to Irvington in 1873. She attended Butler University, earning a master’s degree in 1885.

She was active in several local and state women’s organizations, including the Legislative Council and the Women’s Franchise League. Grace was very active in the push for women’s suffrage in Indiana, getting support for it in the state’s women’s clubs.  Although the Indiana General Assembly voted down women’s suffrage in 1915, she helped galvanize many groups, like the League of Women Voters, to be involved. She remained in Irvington for all her life, which ended in 1938. She is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Learn how to engage your downtown during the cold months

The Winter Places Guide from Bench Places is live! View the 65 creative submissions they received to bring customers to Main Streets and downtowns this winter, giving residents safe spaces for socially distanced outdoor gatherings. View the guide here.

Other guides to consider:

Listen to a webinar

Learn practical ways to implement outdoor winter activities to draw people to your downtown and help your business community. Click here to view.

Important Dates

Saturday, Nov. 28 − Small Business Saturday

Tuesday, Dec. 1 − How to Develop a Comprehensive Work Plan training, begins at Noon ET

Friday, Dec. 4 − Intent to Apply is due for any new Main Street organization.

Main Street Applications are due March 5, 2021

Click here to view our full calendar.


OCRA has a new Executive Director

On Nov. 6, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announced Denny Spinner has been appointed to serve as the executive director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Spinner has been the mayor of Huntingburg since 2012. Denny's first day will be Monday, Dec. 7. Click here to read the press release.

FB group

Have you joined our Facebook group?

OCRA created this group to provide a place to share resources, uplifting stories and best practices for all Indiana Main Street organizations. Join the group today!

Giving Tuesday

Do you have a plan for Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is right around the corner! This year it will be held on Dec.1. Last year, nonprofits raised more than $1.9 billion on Giving Tuesday, with $511 million through online contributions. Is your organization participating? Get started by checking out the Ultimate Giving Tuesday Toolkit via Mobile Cause.

Are you looking for help with your storefront?

Modern businesses rely on storytelling and experiences. Their success depends on how much they give back to their streets and their community, the impact they make and how much shared value they add to their ecosystem. It all boils down to story, mission and hard work.

This article's writer developed a quick three-question quiz to help small business owners evaluate their storefronts. She then provides tips and best practices on how to improve your storefront.

On Oct. 15, Main Street staff were joined by Dr. Christina Gomez for a webinar on “Demographics, Data, and Diversity.” Dr. Gomez shared her expertise related to topics of identity formation and demographic categorization and talked with us about the ways U.S. census data represents information about the race and ethnicity characteristics of the American population. At the end of the webinar, Norma Miess shared some thoughts on why demographic information is important for Main Street staff to understand and keep in mind. You can view the webinar here.

Stay safe & healthy this holiday season

Thanksgiving this year needs to be celebrated differently.

The Indiana State Department of Health has gathered some tips to keep you, your loved ones and your community safe this holiday season.