“Threshold” sculpture virtual dedication

As we announced earlier this summer, the NDDC was awarded a grant through the Southeastern MN Arts Council (SEMAC) to purchase and install a sculpture at the west entrance to the Riverwalk, in collaboration with the City of Northfield’s Arts and Culture Commission.  We had planned an in-person dedication ceremony, but decided to shift gears due to Covid concerns.  Instead, with the help of Northfield Public Broadcasting, we produced a short video to commemorate this spectacular piece of art and the people involved in making it happen.  It turned out great, and we hope you enjoy watching!

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

Future of Downtown Northfield online survey

All individuals who live or work in or near Northfield, MN, are invited to share their thoughts on Northfield’s Downtown in an online survey.

Staff from Rethos in partnership with the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation are encouraging Northfield locals to take part in an online survey to share their thoughts, perceptions, and ideas for Downtown Northfield.

This survey is meant to gain insight from residents of all ages (kids included) who live in or near Northfield, as well as people who work in Northfield. This input will be analyzed and included with information from other related surveys and studies with an end objective of identifying community values and themes to direct planning and goals for downtown revitalization.

All survey input will be anonymous. The survey will take approximately five minutes to complete, and will be live from Monday, September 14 through Wednesday, September 30. Simply follow this link in order to complete the survey.

If you have questions about this survey or for the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation, contact Greg Siems at greg@nddc.org. To connect with Rethos Staff, contact Emily Kurash Casey, Rural Programs Coordinator at emily@rethos.org.

About Rethos 

Rethos, formerly the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working nationwide for the use of old buildings and sites. We are holistic in our thought and flexible in our approach. We activate space, invest in communities, and reimagine what can be to lead and inspire people to connect with historic places, promoting community vitality. At Rethos, our purpose to reimagine places comes to life through core services that help educate, motivate and strengthen communities. Our board, staff, and partners work together to protect and promote communities’ shared environment and culture. Rethos Main Streets Minnesota helps cities maximize both their people and built assets for economic vitality.  Rethos Main Streets is a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program and provides local Main Street communities with the training, tools, information and networking they need to reinvigorate their downtown districts. More: https://www.rethos.org/

Announcing the 2020 Artists on Main Street grant recipients

Winners selected for 2020 Artists on Main Street grant program; New creative placemaking projects will benefit downtown Northfield

Northfield, MN, 8/3/20—Amidst a global pandemic, the importance of community and place is more important than ever.  Thanks to the Artists on Main Street program—organized locally by the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) and the City of Northfield’s Arts and Culture Commission (ACC)—two significant projects have been chosen that will help tell Northfield’s story and bring us together through the arts and creative placemaking.

These projects, described below, will comprise the second year of the Artists on Main Street program, a three-year community development initiative offered through Rethos: Places Reimagined and Springboard for the Arts, with funding from the Bush Foundation.  The projects were selected through the ACC’s Public Art Review Committee process, as outlined in the City of Northfield’s recently adopted ‘Art in Public Places’ policy.

“We are thrilled with this year’s projects, and we want to thank everyone who took time to apply.  The quality of this year’s submissions made the final decision very difficult,” said Greg Siems, NDDC Executive Director.

The first project—entitled “Spreading the Love / Finding the Heart of Northfield,” was submitted by local glass artist Geralyn Thelen, with the assistance of metal artist Dale Lewis.  Their vision is to create a 6-foot tall metal tree with leaves of fused glass.  “The tree is a symbol of life,” said Thelen in her application, and “the leaves will be heart shaped to represent love.”  More importantly, she added, the leaves will be multicolored to demonstrate that “all are welcome in our community.”  Once complete, the sculpture will be placed in a prominent location outside of the Armory building near the corner of Division and 6th Streets.

In addition to the sculpture itself, Thelen will create a corresponding 6-inch heart for every interested downtown business, creating a scavenger hunt and encouraging participants to “find the heart” of Northfield while learning more about the wide variety of businesses that make downtown Northfield so vibrant.

THE SECOND PROJECT—entitled “Musical Portraits of Northfield,” was submitted by Louis Epstein and Daniel Groll, who make up Northfield’s family music duo, Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band.  The duo plans to create a series of songs describing the sights and sounds of downtown Northfield, which will “complement the visual delights of the district and strengthen the notion of Northfield as a musical city,” as Epstein and Groll described in their application.  The topics and destinations for these musical portraits will be crowdsourced from community members, with a focus on children and families, to identify the businesses, buildings, public spaces, and other downtown sites they love most.  In response to their ideas, a song will be composed for each place followed by a live, public, on-site performance of each song.  Each performance will be filmed and serve as the basis for a music video, allowing each song to live on long past the premieres.  Northfield residents and visitors will be able to access the music videos for free via QR code or online links posted on small signs or in storefront windows.

For more information about the Artists on Main Street program, check out this link.

City of Northfield seeks input on Water Street using Polco

See the press release below from the City of Northfield.  This could mean big things for downtown and fulfill a vision that’s been talked about at least since 2013!


The City of Northfield is asking for input on permanently closing Water Street or seasonally closing Water Street. Participate in a short survey by August 6 using Polco, a public engagement platform. Residents can complete the survey in English or Spanish.

Residents can participate on Polco by downloading the Polco app for Android or iOS, or visiting the city’s web page on Polco at polco.us/northfield. QR codes on City information boards allow easy access to the Polco website. Residents’ individual information is never shared and cannot be accessed by the City.

Links to Polco can also be found on the city’s website ci.northfield.mn.us/polco, and city’s Facebook feed. English and Spanish paper surveys are available at the Northfield Public Library and Motor Vehicle Services at City Hall.

Community members can review survey results on the Polco app and through the city website: ci.northfield.mn.us/surveyresults

Questions? Contact:

Michelle Mahowald
Communications & Human Resources Director
507-645-3012
michelle.mahowald@ci.northfield.mn.us

NDDC receives National Main Street Accreditation

Northfield, MN (7/1/20) — The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation is proud to announce it has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program. Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach™.

NDDC’s performance is evaluated directly by Rethos Main Streets, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet ten rigorous performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.

“This is a great accomplishment for the NDDC and the Northfield community,” said Greg Siems, NDDC Executive Director.  “Our organization has worked hard for twenty years to improve and advocate for the downtown, and national accreditation now gives us even more motivation and credibility to continue this important work.”

Over the past two decades the NDDC has been a catalyst, contributor, and advocate for many long-lasting improvements in the downtown district, including:

  • Welcome banners and holiday decorations
  • Bridge Square master plan
  • Benches, bike racks, and trail connections
  • Gateway corridor improvement plan
  • Mayor’s Downtown Streetscape Task Force
  • Riverfront Enhancement Advisory Committee
  • Highway 3 pedestrian safety upgrades
  • Recruiting and encouraging developers for high-visibility projects such as The Crossing  and Reunion-Eat, Drink, Gather
  • Promoting Downtown through events (such as Taste Tour, ArtSwirl, Spring Fling) and marketing (Be Local, Buy Local) in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Northfield
  • Newer initiatives such as Artists on Main Street, Riverwalk design amenities, and business succession planning.

“We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”  In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new were jobs created, and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.

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ABOUT THE NDDC

The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that seeks to support, strengthen, and grow Northfield’s unique downtown district.  Founded in 2000, the NDDC is made up of dedicated residents who work to promote direct and indirect investment, collaboration and cooperation with other public and private groups, and awareness of the opportunities that Downtown Northfield holds for the community as a whole.