What is the Main Street Approach?

Main Street is a philosophy, a program, and a proven comprehensive approach to downtown commercial district revitalization. This approach has been implemented in over 1,600 cities and towns in 40 states across the nation with the help of the National Main Street Center and statewide downtown revitalization programs.

The success of the Main Street approach is based on its comprehensive nature. By carefully integrating four points into a practical downtown management strategy, a local Main Street program will produce fundamental changes in a community’s economic base.

Main Streets Four-Points (Design, Promotion, Economic (business) Vitality, and Organization) play an economic development role. The Main Street Four-Point Approach is an asset-based economic development strategy. The assets common to historic commercial districts are heritage assets and human assets. Heritage assets encompass both built and cultural history. Human assets encompass both entrepreneurs (local/ independent owner operators) and an engaged public (locals with a sense of ownership/buy-in) While each point within the Main Street Four-Point Approach ideally makes use of all four assets, each Point takes the lead in leveraging one of the four assets.

ORGANIZATION involves building a Main Street framework that is well represented by business and property owners, bankers, citizens, public officials, chambers of commerce, and other local economic development organizations. Everyone must work together to renew downtown. A strong organization provides the stability to build and maintain a long-term effort. Building capacity with people, funds and partners will provide the human asset support to raise money for projects and build pride in your hometown.

PROMOTION creates excitement downtown. Street festivals, parades, retail events, and image development campaigns are some of the ways Main Street Programs increase the neighborhood’s visibly and encourage customer traffic. Promotion involves marketing an enticing image to shoppers, investors, and visitors to increase retail sales, improve the area’s image, and to develop tourism opportunities.

DESIGN enhances the attractiveness of the business district. Historic building rehabilitation, street and alley clean-up, landscaping, and lighting all improve the physical image of the downtown as a quality place to shop, work, walk, invest in, and live. Design improvements result in a reinvestment of public and private dollars to downtown.

ECONOMIC (business) VITALITY involves analyzing current market forces to develop long-term solutions. Recruiting new businesses, creatively converting unused space for new uses, and sharpening the competitiveness of Main Street’s traditional merchants are examples of business development activities. Encouraging the mixed-use of commercial buildings; i.e. store-front commercial use and residential upper- story use is important to a creating a vibrant commercial core.