The EDA received the Community Growth Initiative grant from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in 2016. A task force that consisted of a cross-section of community members was formed to lead the effort and the goal of "re-energizing downtown" was established. Community members attended a large gathering with a meal and helped with a community wide SWOT analysis. Teams were then performed to put together project ideas to use the funds for. The task force voted and the Highway 60 Electronic Billboard and Artwalk St. James were chosen. Additional ideas were restoration of the Opera House Facade (has since happened with a different grant), building a dog park (has also since happened) and establishing a group home facility (City staff looked into this and it was not possible).
The electronic billboard is now operational and is managed by the St. James Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). It advertises community wide events to passers-by on Highway 60.
Artwalk St. James brought flower planters to downtown, painted electrical boxes, and hired artists to create two sculptures- a train and the Helping Hands sculpture.