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Main Street approves Hilltop Campus Village
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Main Street approves Hilltop Campus Village

Davenport project earns accreditation from national group

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The plans and efforts for revitalizing Davenport’s Hilltop Campus Village have received the seal of approval from Main Street Iowa.

The year-old Hilltop Campus program received its formal accreditation as a National Main Street Community after an assessment by representatives of Main Street Iowa.

The area, located in central Davenport roughly between St. Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, was designated last year as a Main Street Urban Neighborhood District. It was one of three urban areas in Iowa to join the new program. The others were in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.

Scott Tunnicliff, the Hilltop Campus director, said to earn accreditation the program had to meet the 11 criteria set by the National Main Street Center for measuring a program’s revitalization efforts.

“They look for things like broad-based community, involvement from the public and private sector. They also examined our vision and mission statements and to what degree we’re adhering to them,” he said. “They were most impressed with the commitment of our board of directors and the strong advocacy (for the program) received by the city staff.”

The program, driven by volunteers from the central city neighborhood, has a goal of revitalizing and rehabilitating the neighborhood, which is home to a small commercial district, the colleges, Davenport schools and a residential base.

“The accreditation shows that the organizational structure we have can yield some progress and results,” he said, adding it also “validates our program … and gives us the additional impetus on how we can get even better.”

The Hilltop Campus project is different than most traditional Main Street programs, which traditionally involve a downtown. “We’re also a very different Main Street program in terms of employment, diversity and income levels,” Tunnicliff said.

The Main Street team also noted the group’s strong community outreach and its efforts to give all shareholders a voice in planning for the area’s future, he said. Continuing these efforts were among the recommendations included as part of the accreditation process.

Tunnicliff said the program also was encouraged to continue its work on the 398 Project — a partnership between Hilltop Campus and St. Ambrose. He said one of the university’s marketing classes, course No. 398, is helping to study the urban district and surveying St. Ambrose faculty, staff and students  about what they would like to see in the area as well as the barriers to investment.

Main Street officials also recommended that Hilltop Campus continue developing the work plans of its committees, which are modeled after Main Street’s four-point approach. The committees are focused on design, promotion, economic restructuring and organization.

“The aim is to use the findings as a strategy to educate potential investors and developers,” he said.

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