The Tahlequah Main Street Association is looking for a "Big Idea" to help improve the downtown scene.

Tahlequah residents have until Sept. 12 to turn in their applications for the TMSA's The Big Idea program, which will provide at least $3,000 in grant money for the best project idea to enhancing Tahlequah.

"It's to revitalize and beatify our downtown area," said Jamie Hale, of TMSA.

TMSA has already started receiving ideas, but anyone with aspirations for a brighter downtown has as good a chance as anybody to be selected. Once the application deadline has passed, the TMSA Big Idea committee will select three to five finalists. A community gathering will be held in October for locals to watch presentations and cast their votes for their favorite project. Proceeds from ticket sales for the presentation will also go toward the project.

Last year, Workman's Department Store was awarded the Big Idea prize, using it to spruce up the store's awning. The idea won by a single vote.

"So you want to invite all your friends and family and get as much of the community involved as you can," said Hale. "The more people who come, the more funding we can get for this project and maybe pick a couple [projects] over the long run."

The ideas could revolve around art, seasonal events, business expansions, new programs and anything else that creates a positive impact. Hale cited examples as a new mural, playground equipment, Christmas decorations, a speaker system, or anything to spruce up the city.

"We're really looking for something that's going to last for years to come," she said.

TMSA will work with applicants to help them finalize their project, but once the grant money is awarded, it's really the recipient's responsibility to make sure it's finished.

"We are funding the grant," said Hale. "The person submitting the ideas, that's who is facilitating the grant. This is their baby."

The three to five finalists will have help presenting their ideas to the community. Those chosen will work with the city videographer to create a video spotlighting the need or value of a project.

"Someone may not have videography experience or the funds to hire someone to help them," said Hale. "It kind of keeps it on a fair playing field."

The project presentations will be held Oct. 8 at the Armory Municipal Center. Everyone who purchases a ticket gets to vote and also receives a meal. Participants must be at least 10 years old to vote. Tickets are $15. The time of the event has not been determined.

Get involved

For more information about The Big Idea or how to apply, visit www.tahlequahmainstreet.com.

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