A look back at 2021…
A message from our Executive Director
2021 started out with a great deal of uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic lingered on. Moving forward with planning for our regular event schedule, we remained cautiously optimistic things would be returning to “normal” as the year went on.
In March we moved into our new home in the Sanborn Building, one of Sterling Today’s latest projects, located at 15 E. 3rd Street, across from Smoked on 3rd. With ample room to spare, the building is being developed into a multi-tenant co-working space. We welcomed Destinations Travel to the building in January of this year.
Our event schedule got off to a great start with our May Car Show which saw 148 vehicles entered, and a record 50/50 pot. Our monthly Pop-Up Market series during the summer got off at a rainy start, but ended with record attendance, both in vendors and guests, and featured some great live music throughout the series. Hot Dog Day returned on the 1st Friday of August with 7,500 hot dogs offered during the 3 hour event. The BLIND Student Leadership Group once again donated their time and provided great volunteer assistance in making the event a success. Our Sip into Fall event sold out and provided a great boost to our downtown retailers. One of our newest downtown businesses, Fringe & Co. Salon & Boutique was able to offer a sneak peek into their space during the event as they readied for opening. October’s Hops on the Rock was FINALLY able to make the Sterling Marketplace its event home. It was a beautiful day, attendance was fabulous and the new venue worked perfectly for this growing—and now award winning—event.
The Twin City Farmers Market, located in the historic Twin City Produce Building at 106 Avenue A, continues to grow. Our year-round, indoor farmers market remains at capacity for vendors. We are grateful for the addition of the Sterling Marketplace pavilion, added in 2020, as we utilize the space from May through October to allow the Twin City Farmers Market much needed expansion. A new handicap accessible deck was added on the south side of the building in 2021, making way for the rebuilding of the Market’s west-side deck in 2022 – a project which is very much need. The Market is also working with the City of Sterling to explore possibilities of expanding further into the Twin City Produce Building to allow more vendors on a year-round basis.
From an organizational standpoint, 2021 was a year of development for Sterling Main Street. The Illinois Main Street program better established itself under the umbrella of Main Street America, which provided for more educational opportunities for staff and board members to take advantage of, which in turn helps us do our jobs better and bring more to the community. Two of the accomplishments I am personally most proud of are receiving certification from the National Development Council in historic real estate finance, and being asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Farmers Market Association (ILFMA).
At a planning retreat held in October, the Sterling Main Street board of directors also placed an emphasis on rebuilding our core committees – Design. Organization. Promotions. Economic Vitality. Our committees are a great way for the community at large to get involved and have a voice in impacting growth in Downtown Sterling. We’ve got some lofty goals for 2022 and beyond, but see amazing things happening in our community with the current enthusiasm and momentum of our volunteers.
A few of our goals for 2022 and beyond…
- With a focus on entrepreneurship and business development, Sterling Main Street is planning development of a retail incubator to provide a launching pad for area entrepreneurs to take the next step in growing their businesses and expand retail offerings in Downtown Sterling.
- Continuing growth of entrepreneurial opportunities, Sterling Main Street is exploring ways to further expand the Twin City Farmers Market, and will offer additional Pop-Up Market nights in 2022.
- Sterling Main Street will continue to work closely with the Keystone Group, and other collaborative efforts with the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce on key projects such as the Welcome Home campaign to attract new and former residents to the greater Sterling area.
- Continue to develop our committees with additional input and volunteers from the community at large.
- Continue to promote our Façade Grant program to property owners within the Downtown Business District.
To learn more about Sterling Main Street and how you can help support our projects and initiatives, click HERE