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A local organization is asking for the public's vote in a contest with a $25,000 grand prize.

Main Street Texarkana aims to advance in the America's Main Streets contest, which rewards public enthusiasm with cash for downtown development.

Anyone may vote once a day at
MainStreetContest.com. The field will narrow to 25 quarterfinalists on April 21 and 10 semifinalists May 26, and a winner will be named June 2.

The grand prize includes a $25,000 check and a total of $2,500 in goods and services from contest sponsors including power-tool maker Stihl.

If it gets the most online votes, Main Street Texarkana would use the money to fund beautification projects, Executive Director Ina McDowell said.

"Of course, we feel like the better downtown looks, and more inviting, the more people it will draw," she said.

Main Street Texarkana advanced to the semifinal round in the contest last year, but its chances were hindered by a quirk in the rules.

Anyone may nominate a city for inclusion in the contest. Last year, both Texarkana, Ark., and Texarkana, Texas, were nominated, causing split voting.

Contest administrators said they were unable to combine the two cities' vote totals, according to McDowell.

This year, participants are asked to vote for the Texarkana, Ark., nomination now available and to refrain from causing confusion by nominating the Texas side, too.

In addition to voting, McDowell encouraged residents to spread the word about the contest.

"Please share. Friends, family, enemies, anybody. We like everybody's vote. It would be wonderful if we could win it this year," she said.

The Twin Cities have fared well in recent similar contests.

In online-voting contests sponsored by PetSafe, the Arkansas side in 2012 and the Texas side in 2013 won $100,000 each to build dog parks.

Also in 2013, the Texas side was one of 20 cities that won an online-voting contest, sponsored by the Benjamin Moore paint company, for exterior paint downtown.

"We've certainly seen that Texarkana can win social media contests when we all pull together for a common interest or project, and I feel sure that we could see that for our downtown improvements," McDowell said.

Independent We Stand, an organization that supports independent local businesses, conducts the America's Main Streets contest.

Main Street Texarkana advocates for economic development through the historic preservation of downtown.

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