NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced Friday that recipients of the Governor’s Main Street Awards will now be awarded $1,500 in grant funding from the Main Street Initiative (MSI) Vibrancy Grant.

Providing an MSI Vibrancy Grant to award recipients was introduced this year in an effort to encourage more Main Street communities to apply for the awards and be recognized for showing excellence in the principles of the Main Street Initiative by actively working to differentiate and enhance the quality of life for both current and future residents.

Nominations for the 2022 Main Street Awards are being accepted until Sept. 1 and can be submitted through its website.

“These awards are an excellent opportunity for communities to showcase their unique efforts and attributes, and call attention to the tangible benefits an engaged community can create,” Commerce Interim Commissioner Shawn Kessel said. “Awarding the MSI Vibrancy Grant to recipients is well deserved and we hope it will help contribute to further efforts of using MSI principles to improve communities.”

The Main Street Awards are a collaborative effort of the Governor’s office and the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

A selection committee made up of the collaborating agencies and partners will judge the entries to make final awards, which will be presented at the Main Street ND Summit in Bismarck.

This year’s award categories are:

Healthy, Vibrant Community Award: This award recognizes communities or groups that have made investments in projects that enhance the health and vibrancy of communities. This award emphasizes efforts to engage and empower people of all ages and abilities, helping North Dakota improve its health, economy and connectivity.

Smart, Efficient Infrastructure Award: This award recognizes a community that has made sound planning decisions by investing in spaces with existing infrastructure, such as a vacant lot (infill) or dilapidated building. Nominated projects should infuse existing infrastructure with new and innovative ideas to ensure the most efficient use of public resources.

21st Century Workforce Award: Two awards are given in this category to recognize excellence in either efforts to attract or retain the workforce, or efforts to train existing workers in a community. Excellence in workforce attraction and retention can be demonstrated through the implementation of a strategy that encourages people to move to and stay in the community. Excellence in workforce development can be demonstrated through efforts to engage students in leadership development or workforce exploration.

Main Street Excellence Award: Two awards are given in this category to recognize communities or community champions within a community that has demonstrated efforts that reflect all four pillars of the Main Street Initiative: Smart, Efficient Infrastructure; 21st Century Workforce; Economic Diversification; and Healthy, Vibrant Communities.

One award is designated for a rural community consisting of no more than 2,500 in total population and the other award is designated for an urban community.

Economic Diversification Award: This award recognizes a community or organization that has contributed to community resiliency by finding its unique strength, community asses, or niche while using it to attract business, workforce, and visitors and enhance residents’ quality of life. Nominated responses should recognize organizations that find innovative ways to strengthen community connections, diversify local businesses or build local morale.

Future leaders Empowerment Award: This award recognizes a community that seeks to engage students in creating a healthy and vibrant community through leadership development, community planning or workforce exploration in community industries.

For additional details on how to apply, visit Main Street Awards website.