Aug. 24 ribbon cutting celebrates Decorah’s new designation

The Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce, together with community partners, will celebrate Decorah’s newly designated Downtown Cultural & Entertainment District on Thursday, Aug. 24, at 5:45 p.m. with a Ribbon Cutting Event on Washington Street.
This event follows a local video promotion by the chamber where Executive Director Jessica Rilling ran a red ribbon around the downtown to coincide with the state’s July announcement.
Decorah is one of 18 Iowa communities with this designation. Only two communities were added as CEDs in 2023 – Decorah and Burlington. To receive the designation, the community demonstrates walkability, exceptional vibrancy, a robust arts and culture scene, and an established entertainment portfolio. The state designation lasts for 10 years and requires an annual report submission. Although funding is not connected to the designation, it offers significant benefit when it comes to the marketing and promotion of the town at a state and national level. The Cultural & Entertainment District program is managed by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
The application team will work this fall on a toolkit to help businesses and community organizations understand and utilize the designation to their benefit.
“It’s great to have formal recognition at a state level that our downtown is exceptional,” says Rilling, “and we look forward to sharing and leveraging this designation when it comes to attracting and retaining business, communicating quality of life to prospective residents, and motivating travelers to choose the Decorah Area for their vacation destination.”
The Application Team included City of Decorah Mayor Lorraine Borowski, Chair of the Decorah Historic Preservation Commission Mark Muggli, Director of Administration for Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum Marcia McKelvey, Board Director for Downtown Decorah Betterment Mike Harman, Executive Director for ArtHaus Shannon Dallenbach Durbin, Visit Decorah expert and Marketing & Community Engagement Specialist for Northeast Iowa RC&D Alyssa Ritter, Executive Director for Winneshiek County Development & Tourism, Inc. Stephanie Fromm, and Executive Director for Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce Jessica Rilling.

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