Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many of our downtown businesses have been making adjustments to their regular business operations, including reduced hours, by appointment only shopping, offering curbside pickup and delivery of product and other creative options to keep you, and their staff, healthy and safe during this health crisis.  Please continue to show your support to the small businesses, our friends and neighbors, who provide so much to our community.  Visit our EXPLORE DOWNTOWN links for all the latest updates from individual businesses.

Information will continued to be updated as best we are able, but please check with the individual businesses for the latest.

Reopening Plans:


Restore Illinois Plan

Restore Illinois – Actions to Combat Resurgence

Main Street Forward – Community & Industry guidance & best practices

US Chamber – Reopening Business Digital Resources Center


Additional links for COVID-19 information:

Whiteside County Emergency Management

Whiteside County Health Department Website   (Facebook)

CGH Medical Center Website (Facebook)

Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH)

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

State of Illinois COVID-19 Information

Stay at Home FAQ

Essential Businesses FAQ

Small Business Assistance Resources:


Revolving Loan Fund for Sterling Small Businesses


State of Illinois Resources Summary

IL DCEO Small Business Assistance

Unemployment Assistance

Essential Businesses FAQ


Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance

Area Small Businesses are strongly encouraged to reach out to their LOCAL LENDER, the Small Business Development Center at Sauk Valley Community College and their accountant to discuss which assistance program(s) are best for their business’s needs.

Follow Sterling Main Street on Facebook for links being shared frequently to other resources.


Find it all in Downtown Sterling

Looking for a great place to eat?  A little nightlife?  Some retail therapy? You’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Downtown Sterling, Illinois.

Grab a latte at Air Play Espresso & Bakery, spruce up your wardrobe at UOI Boutique, catch a movie at the Sterling Theater, get pampered at Merle Norman, or just enjoy the history of the architecture and the stories behind the murals throughout the downtown. There is something for everyone. Explore!  Enjoy!

Originally organized in 1999, Sterling Main Street became the dream of a dedicated small group of Sterling, Illinois 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 its office to its renovation project of 4 years, The Martin Building, located on the corner of 3rd Street and Locust (currently the home of The Rusty Fox Wine & Alehouse). This renovation project served as the catalyst for our Façade Grant program, which has awarded nearly $400,000 in grants since the program began in 2009, assisting property owners in the City’s Downtown District to revitalize their storefronts.

Today, Sterling Main Street continues to utilize Main Street America’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:

Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Vitality

From beautification projects; great community events; and support for the small, independent businesses that make up the core of our downtown and contribute to Sterling’s unique character; Sterling Main Street is creating a vibrant downtown experience for all to enjoy.

Sterling Main Street also works closely with the following organizations for the betterment of the community at large:



As a Main Street America™ program, Sterling Main Street is a recognized leading program among the national network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities who share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.  All Main Street America™ Accredited programs meet a set of National Accreditation Standards of Performance as outlined by the National Main Street Center.