Corridor communities awarded Main Street Iowa Challenge grants

Isabella and Edward Santoro have been awarded a 2021 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant for their project to revitalize & reopen historic Winga's Cafe as the Northside Diner.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) awarded $1,205,000 in Main Street Iowa Challenge grants to 13 communities around the state, including in Washington and Mount Vernon. The grants will benefit local building projects that contribute to the economic development of designated Main Street Iowa districts.

Main Street Washington Inc., was awarded $100,000 for Winga’s Cafe rebirth on the downtown square, and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group received $30,000 for upper story renovation of the right frame of the Mind building in Mount Vernon. 

“The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants have been instrumental in revitalizing Iowa’s historic main streets,” IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Debi Durham stated in a release. “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.”

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 13 projects is over $3.6 million.

“Each of these projects represents growing momentum for downtown and community revitalization,” Michael Wagler, state coordinator for the Main Street Iowa program, stated. “This investment in catalytic projects across Iowa will have a significant economic impact and help strengthen local creative placemaking efforts.”

Since the first Challenge Grants were awarded in 2002, approximately $12.8 million in state and federal funds have leveraged nearly $65 million in private investment.

For more information about the Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant program, contact Maia Fiala Jessen at (515) 348.6179 or

Click here for a list of the awards.