Projects will leverage private investments to revitalize downtowns across the state

November 7, 2019 (DES MOINES) — The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) today awarded Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street a $75,000 grant for the rehabilitation of the Quonset Hut located in the Czech Village into a Hot Shop Glass Blowing Studio. Glass Artist at the Iowa Ceramic Center and Glass Studio John Krizan, National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library Director of Learning and Civic Engagement Nic Hartmann, and Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street Executive Director Abby Huff represented the Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street at the event held at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.  Thirteen other Main Street Iowa communities also received grants that will benefit local improvement projects, including upper story renovations, critical building stabilization and façade restoration and upgrades. A total of $1 million was awarded during the ceremony.

The Quonset Hut is owned by the Joens’ Family Siblings who inherited the building after their father George Joens passed away in 2017. The partnership for this project involves the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (NCSML), the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio (ICCGS) and the Joens family. It is their intention to work together to create an artist’s space for glassblowing that also encourages tourism to the Czech Village-New Bohemia

Main Street District. Cecilia Rokusek, President & CEO of the NCSML and Ellen Kleckner, Executive Director of the ICCGS say “This exemplary project demonstrates a true community collaborative that has the potential to make a significant impact in the community by increasing creative glass arts education programs for the community, region, and state, expanding tourism to the Cedar Rapids Main Street area connecting the New Bohemia area and Czech Village by creating a “destination travel place for glass blowing and creative arts, providing connections to the Main Street area of Cedar Rapids to connect to international experts in glass arts from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and also developing a Center of Excellence in creative glass arts in the Main Street District of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”

The grants are administered through IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs. The funding will be distributed in the form of matching grants to the selected Main Street programs. The estimated total project cost of these 14 projects is over $3.2 million. 

“The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants have been instrumental in revitalizing Iowa’s historic main streets,” said IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham. “Reinvesting in our traditional commercial districts is good business.  It’s good for our economy and good for our state. These projects will bring new businesses and new residents to our downtown districts.”

Since the first Challenge Grants were awarded in 2002, approximately $10.6 million in state and federal funds have leveraged more than $59 million in private investment. Over the life of the program, 179 projects in 54 Main Street Iowa commercial districts across the state have received funding.

“Each project must provide at least a dollar-for-dollar cash-match,” said Michael Wagler, state coordinator for the Main Street Iowa program. “In total, these projects will actually leverage significantly more than the state’s investment into bricks and mortar rehabilitation.  This investment will have a significant economic impact within each district.” 

For more information about the Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant program, contact Michael Wagler at 515.348.6184 or mainstreet@iowaeda.com.