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Rediscover Downtown Peru advances in national contest

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Rediscover Downtown Peru made it through the first round of a contest that could bring $25,000 to improve the downtown area.

Independent We Stand’s contest called America’s Main Streets helps to promote the benefits of main streets in towns across the nation. The organization’s website states that “when Main streets are strong, so are the communities that surround them.”

Nominations and voting for the contest took place from February 25 until April 21, where individuals could go online and vote for their town up to 25 times each day for each IP address.

According to a press release from Rediscover Downtown Peru, nearly 230,000 votes were cast for 232 nominations. Following this voting period, the top 25 moved onto the second phase.

Along with the other 24 cities across America, Rediscover Downtown Peru made the list and has advanced to the next round of voting. Rediscover Downtown Peru is a local Main Street organization that works to support local businesses and encourage revitalization of the downtown area.

Lifelong Peru resident Debbie Bowsher was the one behind the Peru nomination. She said she found the contest online and because of her passion for the community along with her front row seat watching her boyfriend Kreig Atkins open up his own business, she decided to nominate Rediscover Downtown Peru.

“My boyfriend opened Six Street Coffee Company a little over a year ago and I know firsthand how much work it is and how much money it takes to redo the buildings and have a successful business and I thought Peru might have a chance,” she said.

The grand prize would be beneficial to Peru, Bowsher said, because Rediscover Downtown Peru could use the money to help beautify the downtown area. She said quality of life is very important when attracting new business and industry, so the better the downtown looks, the better chance the town has of recruiting new businesses.

Kassi Kotkoski helps with Rediscover Downtown Peru’s marketing and said they’re always looking for ways to improve the downtown area.

“We’re always looking for ways to spruce up the downtown and hope that the betterment of the downtown kind of spreads and grows city wide, and even countywide,” Kotkoski said. “So receiving funds like this and the assistance of the group would help guide us, I think would be really beneficial.”

Kotkoski said she hopes they can make things look more inviting and that the community will want to take pride in Peru and visit downtown more often.

“We’re always looking for ways to get people to want to shop and play Peru and keep everyone here,” she said. “We’ve got a pretty close-knit community. I’m really grateful for that, and I enjoy that.”

Bowsher said she thinks it’s awesome that so many people got online and voted everyday. She said she would encourage everyone to put it on their calendar or to put a reminder on their phone so they remember to continue voting everyday to increase Peru’s chances of winning.

“This is over the whole United States, so it’s not just an Indiana thing,” she said.

Individuals can vote more than 25 times a day if they connect to different Wifi as well, she said, and they don’t have to live in Peru to vote for Rediscover Downtown Peru. Moving forward, she said she hopes people don’t tire of voting, but that they hammer away and vote as much as they did the first round.

Semifinalist voting ends May 26 and the winner will be announced on July 3, followed by a “Main streets Make Us Better” celebration on July 4, where the winner will announce how they plan to use the money.

To vote, visit www.mainstreetcontest.com/profile/95.