The Sterling Main Street Program

Originally organized in 1999, Main Street of Sterling, Inc. (commonly called “Sterling Main Street”) became the dream of a dedicated small group of Sterling business owners and community leaders.   Working for many years to bring the Main Street® Program to Sterling, their hard work and vision was finally rewarded when they received official accreditation from the Illinois Main Street Program in March of 2009. 

That same year, Sterling Main Street relocated their office to their first renovation undertaking, a 4-year project, The Martin Building, located on the corner of 3rd Street and Locust, which is currently the home of The Rusty Fox Wine & Alehouse.

Today, Sterling Main Street, a volunteer-driven organization, continues to utilize the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach® to downtown revitalization.  This approach is based on a comprehensive strategy, tailored to local needs and opportunities in four broad areas:  Organization, Design, Economic Vitality and Promotion.

Mattox Insurance Agency
East 3rd Street, Sterling
Renovated Fall 2014

A strong Organizational foundation is key for a sustainable Main Street revitalization effort.  Its focus is on ensuring that all organizational resources (partners, funding, volunteers, etc.) are mobilized to effectively reach our goals.  The Organization committee oversees our annual partnership campaign and other fundraising activities; plays a strong role in our volunteer recruitment & development needs; and leads the way in providing our communications, both internal and external, about the activities of the Main Street Program.

A focus on Design supports Sterling’s transformation by enhancing the physical elements of downtown while capitalizing on the unique assets that set the commercial district apart.  Main Streets enhance their appeal to residents and visitors alike with attention to public space through the creation of pedestrian friendly streets, inclusion of public art in unexpected areas, visual merchandising, adaptive reuse of older and historic buildings, more efficiently-designed buildings, transit oriented development and much more.

As part of the Design process, Sterling Main Street is proud to provide a Facade Grant Program to our Partners within the downtown district in order to assist them in keeping the exteriors of their buildings in top shape, and encourage the historic preservation process.   Since the Façade Grant Program began in 2009, over $276,000 has been awarded in support of 25 different projects.

Other Design committee activities include downtown beautification projects such as the lamppost flower baskets installed throughout the downtown each summer, and periodic historical walks showcasing the architectural significance of many of our downtown buildings.

Promotion takes many forms, but the ultimate goal is to position Downtown Sterling as the center of the community and the hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases Sterling’s unique characteristics.  This is done through highlighting cultural traditions, celebrating and preserving important architecture and history, encouraging local businesses to market cooperatively, offering coordinated specials and sales, and hosting special events aimed at changing perceptions of the district and communicating to residents, investors, businesses and property-owners that this place is special.

Our Promotions committee works closely with the Sauk Valley Shop Small campaign, and coordinates many annual events including Hot Dog Day, a tradition among the downtown merchants for more than 40 years; a Mother’s Day weekend shop hop; and the annual downtown Christmas Walk.  

Revitalizing a downtown commercial district requires focusing on the underlying Economic Vitality of the district.  This work is rooted in a commitment to making the most of Sterling’s unique sense of place and existing historic assets, harnessing local economic opportunity in creating a supportive business environment for small business owners and the growing scores of entrepreneurs, innovators and localists.  With the nation-wide growing interest in living downtown, supporting downtown housing is also a key element of building Economic Vitality.

Our economic vitality committee meets as needed, working closely with the Greater Sterling Development Corp., City of Sterling and Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce to keep the storefronts of downtown Sterling occupied and provide support to those business as needed to ensure healthy and thriving businesses.

Sterling Main Street is the steward of the Twin City Farmer’s Market.  Started in 2005, and located in the historic Twin City Produce building at 106 Avenue A in downtown Sterling, the Twin City Farmer’s Market is open year-round providing the community access to local produce, meats, eggs & cheese, as well as a wide variety of baked goods, other prepared foods, arts & crafts.  A new mid-week market was introduced in the Summer of 2016 on Tuesday evenings throughout the growing season to give the community even more access to locally produced goods. 

In 2014, Sterling Main Street took over leadership of the Sterling Mural Society. Marking the Society’s 20th Anniversary, a 20th mural, “Lincoln in Sterling,” was installed in July 2015, and plans are in the works for new promotional materials in support of the murals, as well as to establish a plan to address the ongoing maintenance needs of the murals in order to preserve them for generations to come.

The Sterling Welcome Center & Gallery, located at 318 First Avenue, was opened in November 2014.  This new project served to meet two needs seen in the community:  a space where information about the community could be obtained, and also to meet a desire by the region’s artistic community for a venue to display and sells their works.  

Sterling Main Street Board of Directors

Sterling Main Street is governed by a 9-member Board of Directors. 
Board members are appointed to 3 year terms.  

The 2017 Sterling Main Street Board of Directors are:

Brian Grummert (Grummert's Hardware), President 
Sheila Martinez (US Bank), Vice-President
Nick Lareau (Edward Jones), Secretary
Jon Byar (Midland States Banks), Treasurer
Phil Mattox (Mattox Insurance)
Linnea Koch (LK Design Source)
Mike Sprague (State Farm)
Dana McCoy (CGH Medical Center)

Mark Jennings (Re/Max Sauk Valley)

Ex Officio Community Liaisons
(non-voting members):

Ed Cox, Past-President
Shelley Gottel, Sterling Today, Inc.
Kris Noble, Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce
Scott Shumard, City of Sterling

Sterling Main Street Staff

Janna Groharing
Executive Director

Lori VanOosten
Marketing Assistant

Office Location

318 First Avenue
P.O. Box 261
Sterling, IL 61081
Phone:  815/626-8610

Office Hours

8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

As a small office, we are out and about
from time to time, it is best to call ahead.
There is usually someone in the office daily
between 10 AM and 2 PM.