What is a Main Street Program?

Over the past 30 years, the Main Street movement has transformed the way communities think about the revitalization and management of their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Cities and towns across the nation have come to see that a prosperous, sustainable community is only as healthy as its core. The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a unique preservation-based economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets – from historic, cultural, and architectural resources to local enterprises and community pride. It is a comprehensive strategy that addresses the variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional commercial districts. The four points are organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring. Main Street advocates are commonly asked by city governments and businesses, “Why should we invest in downtown?” In response, here are a few reasons why your downtown or neighborhood commercial district is an important and worthwhile investment in the economic health and quality of life in your community.

  • Main street is a symbol of community health, local quality of life, pride, and community history.  These are all factors in industrial, commercial and professional recruitment.
  • A vital Main Street retains and creates jobs, which also means a stronger tax base.  Long term revitalization establishes capable businesses that use public services & provides tax revenues for the community.
  • Main Street is also a good incubator for new small businesses — the building blocks for a healthy economy.  Strip centers and malls are often too expensive for new entrepreneurs.
  • A vital Main Street area reduces sprawl by concentrating retail in one area and uses community resources wisely:  infrastructure, tax dollars and land.
  • A healthy Main Street core protects property values in surrounding residential neighborhoods.
  • The traditional commercial district is an ideal location for independent businesses, which in turn:

    • Keeps profits in town. Chain businesses send profits out of town.
    • Supports local families with family-owned businesses.
    • Supports local community projects, such as ball teams and schools.
    • Provides an extremely stable economic foundation, as opposed to a few large businesses and chains with no ties to stay in the community.

  • A revitalized Main Street increases the community’s options for goods and services: whether for basic staples, like clothing, food and professional services or less traditional functions such as housing and entertainment.
  • Main Street provides an important civic forum, where members of the community can congregate. Parades, special events and celebrations held there reinforce intangible sense of community.  Private developments like malls can and do restrict free speech and access.
  • Many Main Street districts become tourist attractions be virtue of the buildings, location, selection of unique businesses, and events held there.

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