Metro-East News

Downtown Belleville needs your vote to win $25,000 in national contest

Here's how downtown Belleville businesses are faring

Downtown Belleville continues to evolve as more new businesses move in and some longtime establishments leave the historic thoroughfare.
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Downtown Belleville continues to evolve as more new businesses move in and some longtime establishments leave the historic thoroughfare.

Three southern Illinois towns are quarterfinalists for “America’s Main Street,” including Belleville.

Independent We Stand, a national organization of small businesses, has released its list of quarterfinalists for its 2018 “America’s Main Streets” contest. The grand prize is $25,000 to the town with the most deserving Main Street.

“Belleville takes pride on the mom-and-pop shops in business for generations, as well as the newer businesses offering fresh alternatives to big chain stores,” said Belleville Main Street Committee Manager Alicia Chillemi Slocomb in a statement.

Slocomb lauded Belleville’s growing loft community and “adjacent architecturally significant neighborhoods” that provide residential living within walking distance of the downtown business district. “And everything comes alive under the lights at night,” she said.

The theme for this year’s competition is “Local memories, lasting impact,” according to Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle. More than 117,000 votes were cast for 303 entrants during the first phase.

In addition to Belleville, Jacksonville and Mount Carmel also made the list from Illinois.

Jacksonville’s Main Street has spent the last two decades restoring the square and trying to build a stronger small business base, as well as preserving its historic Main Street, according to a statement from Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe.

“Everything that went into making Jacksonville a great American Main Street community was based on volunteers and partnerships,” Tighe said.

Semifinalist votes began Monday at MainStreetContest.com and will conclude on May 27, to determine the top 10. The winner is announced June 4, and will receive various rewards from companies like STIHL Equipment and PPG Paints as well as the $25,000 grand prize.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald
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