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About Us

Jacksonville Main Street was founded to create programs and activities aimed at revitalizing and rejuvenating downtown to re-establish the downtown as a healthy, vibrant, and economically secure center of commerce and social activities.

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Our mission is to enhance the quality of life, cultivate historic integrity, and help businesses thrive through partnerships and programming in downtown Jacksonville.



Jacksonville Main Street envisions a vibrant and thriving downtown for all.


Our Story

Reinvests all of its profits back into downtown

Chartered in 1998, Jacksonville Main Street officially started its work in 1999, as a non-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing downtown Jacksonville. Virtually everyone in the area is a stake holder in the success of downtown, therefore, understanding that the vitality of downtown Jacksonville is a direct benefit to all citizens and businesses of Jacksonville and the surrounding region, we are the only charitable organization that reinvests all of its profits back into the downtown.

Comprehensive revitalization Strategy to foster economic development

As one of over 20 Main Street communities in Illinois, this alliance of local agencies, merchants, property owners, and patrons follows the Main Street Approach, incorporating a comprehensive revitalization strategy to foster economic development within the context of historic preservation by working in the areas of design, organization, promotion, and economic vitality. Since its establishment by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, Main Street has become a major force nationally in downtown revitalization with proven principles and strategies.


Jacksonville Main Street is the only non-profit organization that devotes 100% of its proceeds to enhancing the historic central business district. With local funding as its primary source of revenue, Jacksonville Main Street is not funded by ANY state or national sources. It is a public/private partnership that occasionally receives foundation or government grant funds for specific projects and program management but not the general support provided to business and property owners that ultimately benefits the economic health of the entire region. Project grants typically make up less than 15% of the annual budget and can only be used on the activity for which they were sought. The organization receives about 15% of its annual budget from the City of Jacksonville, less than 20% from tax deductible donations from residents and area businesses via online and annual Partnership Drives, and the rest from events and fundraisers (65%).

Now Seen as a Vital Part of our Community

Now seen as a vital part of our community, downtown Jacksonville has begun to flourish, with dozens of rehabilitation projects being done, more public and private partnerships, numerous new businesses and expansions, and enhanced promotional events that contribute to its continued growth and development.

Jacksonville Main Street's work does not happen overnight or all by itself: It is an ongoing and gradual process that began with small steps and small projects. As the program and local support continues to grows, larger more complex challenges are being met. It takes constant nurturing to maintain and preserve a healthy, vibrant downtown area. Hence, Jacksonville Main Street is not a project with a beginning and an end, but an organization with continual goals and evolving objectives.

Our History

The heart of our community had become vulnerable to deterioration and blight because of Urban Renewal’s failure. Many downtown buildings had deteriorated over the years and were in danger of demolition. Realizing that the loss of such historic structures would remove the charm and historic character from the heart of our community, Jacksonville Main Street was founded to create programs and activities aimed at revitalizing and rejuvenating downtown to re-establish the downtown as a healthy, vibrant, and economically secure center of commerce and social activities.

In June 1998, Dr. Lawrence Bryan led a group of concerned citizens determined to save the heart of Jacksonville from further blight to start the organization. On July 30, a town meeting held at MacMurray College publicly introduced the Main Street program to over 200 residents in attendance, many of whom saw the Main Street Four Point Approach as a perfect fit for this effort and signed on to help in the revitalization effort.

Jacksonville Main Street was officially chartered in November 1998 and designated a 501(c)3 charity in April 1999. Armed with dedicated volunteers and a motivated Board of Directors that included representation from City government and other related organizations, Jacksonville Main Street set to work “Changing Downtown, Together” with the objective to promote preservation, rehabilitation, and re-establish the commercial, civic, and residential structures in our traditional business district. The group charted its course with small steps and do-able projects crafted towards their mission of enhancing the perception, quality of life and long-term economic health of the entire Jacksonville Community through a coordinated and sustained effort to revitalize the city’s downtown district. As part of the State and National Main Street Program, Jacksonville Main Street still follows their Four Point Approach and Main Street philosophy of preservation based economic revitalization blended with continually updated Transformational Strategies.

The Main Street approach differs from previous downtown revitalization attempts in Jacksonville in that it emphasizes:

  • A self-help approach. Although no direct funding is available from the state, the primary benefit is via membership in the national organization with direct technical assistance and access to a nation-wide network of other Main Street communities.

  • A strong emphasis on broad-based support and ownership in the program.

  • Assistance in developing community partnership and collaboration (to eliminate the dependence on a small circle of major players.)

Since 1999, Jacksonville Main Street volunteers have tackled tough challenges and compiled an impressive list of accomplishments through advocacy and partnership. The Organization was named one of Illinois’ Premier Main Street Programs from 2005-2009. Jacksonville Main Street set a high standard of excellence in work that has earned it 48 nominations for Illinois Main Street Awards and 37 Lt. Governor’s Awards in Excellence in Downtown Revitalization. The program has achieved National Accreditation annually since 2003. In 2006, Jacksonville Main Street was named a finalist in the Great American Main Street Awards, winning this elite national designation in 2012, and won a 2007 Governor’s Hometown Award. In 2008 and 2015, the Organization also claimed prestigious Richard Driehaus Awards for Preservation Advocacy from Landmarks Illinois, the highest preservation honor in Illinois. In 2022, Jacksonville Main Street was named Non-profit Organization of the Year by the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition to accolades, Jacksonville Main Street has made a real difference in improving the economic condition for downtown and the entire community through its projects and advocacy.

Besides earning credit and publicity for outstanding volunteer efforts, the resulting effect is nearly $68 million in public/private reinvestment downtown since 1999. More than two dozen new or expanded businesses have created over 150 new jobs within the District. Increased property values have funded the local TIF program to assist with more development and enabling local funding for restoration of the downtown streets. Jacksonville Main Street’s partnerships, education, and advocacy work also helped with a variety of local projects:

  • convinced the City to do Canopy Removal, inspiring over 20 façade improvement projects

  • participated in community rebranding efforts to unify messaging and development work

  • backed City efforts to secure over $16 million in grant funds for projects that restored traffic flow around the historic square and enhanced entrance routes into the District

  • advanced the concept of square restoration and gained public support for the project with the purchase and demolition of the first quadrant building

  • raised over $16,000 for new lighting and preservation-based improvements to the City’s iconic Civil War monument

  • assisted with land acquisition for Downtown Commons, a low-income housing project just north of the downtown area

  • administered the City’s $100,000 Façade Improvement Grant Program, which led to over $750,000 in building upgrades

  • helped develop Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits and the Voices of Jacksonville audio tour to promote heritage tourism

  • restored a dilapidated house and inspired more than $70,000 in private reinvestments as part of a neighborhood revitalization program

  • installed an information kiosk, Civil War cannon, and Big Eli benches in the park and created 12 heritage-based murals to highlight local history, beautify, and attract more visitors downtown

  • partnered with other agencies for tourism marketing campaigns, to secure grants for preservation efforts, and for increased business assistance programs

  • encouraged upper story downtown residential development and increased positive perceptions of downtown safety and desirability

  • published free guides and resource listings to promote downtown businesses, incentive programs, and investment opportunities

  • loaned over $140,000 through JEZDC’s Low Interest Loan Program, leveraging more than $300,000 in building improvements and business enhancements

  • advertised available properties through tours and online marketing to reduce downtown building vacancy rates from 27% to less than 5%

  • advocated for Labor Temple over $300,000 in restoration work by helping to get a $10,000 state grant

  • provided local design assistance and incentive information for over 50 renovation projects

  • accessed professional preservation design advice from state architects for over 20 different projects

  • offered training opportunities for volunteers through conference attendance, workshops, and statewide networking

  • produced dozens of events and promoted activities by others that bring tens of thousands of people downtown

  • increased awareness for preservation, incentives, and downtown issues through public relations, and educational campaigns, including newsletters, school-partnerships, workshops, web site, and presentations

  • brought state and national recognition to Jacksonville through marketing, magazine articles, and press coverage of award-winning projects

Board of Trustees

President: Tom Grojean 

Vice President: John Rohn

Secretary: Keri Mason

Treasurer: Tim Flinn

Past President: Liz Tracy


  • Bobby Bonjean

  • Jeremy Coumbes

  • Ginny Fanning

  • Jessica Freeman-Richardson

  • Gina Hamilton

  • Rachel Kesler

  • Marcy Patterson

Ex-Officio Trustees:

  • Andy Ezard - Mayor of City of Jacksonville

  • Brittany Henry - Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Kristin Jamison - Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation

  • Lisa Musch - Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce


222 West State Street

PO Box 152

Jacksonville, IL 62650


Phone: 217-245-6884

Fax: 217-479-4002

Office Hours

Mon - Fri

8:00 am – 5:00 pm*

*sometimes out of office

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