In August, the Tahlequah Main Street Association began accepting submissions for the Big Idea, which will provide a grant up to $5,000 for the best project idea to enhance Tahlequah.
The Big Idea is a microgrant funded by TMSA’s reinvestment funds. The Big Idea consists of three phases: gathering Big Idea submissions, selecting a winner from chosen finalists, and implementing the winning idea.
“It’s to aid in the revitalization and beautify our downtown area,” said TMSA director Jamie Hale. “Submissions have begun, but anyone with an idea for our downtown can enter it by the Sept. 4 deadline with our online tool on our website.”
According to TMSA, to complete the application, one needs a detailed description of the Big Idea; an estimated cost with supporting documentation; and an estimated timeline to complete the project. If a Big Idea is chosen, the applicant must see that the project is completed.
Finalists will be narrowed to three to five individuals, who will be notified in September that they’ve been selected. Upon selection, finalists will meet with a TMSA representative to review the work plan for their Big Idea and TMSA will assist each submission in creating a video showcasing the project.
“We are very excited to announce that this year’s event will be held virtually. Attendees will watch each finalist’s video and vote online for their most favorite idea for downtown Tahlequah,” said Hale. “Once all the votes are cast, we will determine the 2020 Big Idea winner.”
Eligible projects must align with the TMSA mission to revitalize downtown Tahlequah and strengthen it as the heart of the city. Projects must be able to be completed by June 2021.
Past Big Idea winners have included building facade rehabilitation and the addition of murals throughout the corridor.
“We applied for the Big Idea 2020 because we thought we could help make a difference with the beautification of downtown. Murals can help to bring people in,” said ALL Designs owner and 2020 Big Idea winner Amanda Lamberson. “Maybe they will visit a new store for the first time after taking a picture. Maybe a picture they post will entice a friend to come visit a new store, or maybe it’s simply grandparents in another state will have a new picture of their grandkid to see.”
The three murals were placed on the buildings of Lift Coffee Bar, the Phoenix Professional Building, and Sand Tech.
“We participated in the event as a new business to help promote our brand. We also presented our idea to add to the growing street art scene in Tahlequah,” said Lift co-owner Justin Guile. “Our investment in the building and the art has transformed the corner of Muskogee and Downing. We appreciate all those who voted for us to win the Big Idea and voted us Best Coffee Shop in our first year in business.”
Grant Lloyd, local attorney and owner of Phoenix Professional building, said the murals added a “unique vibrancy to downtown Tahlequah.”
“We wanted to offer a snapshot of the heart of our town on one of our buildings,” said Lloyd.
Addie Wyont with Sand Tech said interactive art helps to draw people into the community to take pictures, shop, and help all downtown businesses with foot traffic.
“We love our mural, and so many people from in town and outside of Tahlequah have come to take pictures,” Wyont said. “The Big Idea is so helpful to our small businesses that would like to upgrade their facade, ideas or more. The $5,000 grant can go a very long way.”
Applications can be submitted by community organizations, business owners, building owners, or individual community members.