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Main street receives state recognition

contributed photoS — Marshalltown Central Business District Executive Director Deb Millizer speaks during the virtual 2021 Main Street Iowa Awards, featuring the efforts of Marshalltown’s main street progress and the opening of Supermarket Villachuato.

Progress on Marshalltown’s Main Street is getting noticed.

Marshalltown Central Business District’s efforts were recognized at the 2021 Main Street Iowa Awards.

The awards in previous years attracted more than 600 Main Street business leaders from across the state for an in-person celebration, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the event to be virtual, hosted online Friday afternoon.

Traditionally, the awards nomination process consists of competitive project applications, but this year focused on telling stories of progress in Main Street districts throughout Iowa. More than 200 stories were collected from businesses dealing with the hardships of the past year and from businesses who found success despite the challenges.

Marshalltown’s recovery from natural disasters both before and during the pandemic was highlighted at the virtual event.

Damage to Marshalltown’s main street after the 2018 tornado as shown during the virtual 2021 Main Street Iowa Awards.

“It’s important to remember that 2020’s challenges were not limited to just a global pandemic,” Main Street Iowa Coordinator Michael Wagner said. “In many communities, weather wreaked havoc and provided additional levels of devastation. In Marshalltown, downtown was still very much in the process of recovering from the aftermath of a 2018 tornado coming into 2020’s pandemic and derecho storm.”

Main Street Iowa recognized the community’s efforts in collaborating to leverage local, state and federal resources to assist in the opening of the family owned Supermarket Villachuato at 107 N. Center St.

“Since reopening in November 2020 Abarrotes Villachuato has once again been providing a vital service to Marshalltown residents,” Marshalltown Central Business District Executive Director Deb Millizer said during the virtual celebration. “This project would not have been possible without the collaborative investing efforts of many local partners.”

She said the space now occupied by Supermarket Villachuato holds a soft spot in her heart, previously having worked at Showroom Auto which held the space before.

“I worked at Showroom Auto for five years probably 15 years ago, so that location was my homebase for a long time,” Millizer said. “To see that building ravaged, then to see it torn down, and then to see it revitalized and rebuilt to now have this awesome grocery store serving the community.”

While watching the awards celebration, Millizer said she saw parallels between Marshalltown and other main street communities in the innovative and creative ways businesses have reached customers during the pandemic such as moving shopping to online methods.

“It made me feel like Marshalltown was on track with other communities,” Millizer said.

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Contact Trevor Babcock 641-753-6611or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.

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