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 2012, Charles City has logged more than 158,293 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.