The Main Street Program

The Community Driven Approach...

What is Main Street?

The Main Street initiative is a comprehensive, community-based revitalization program developed by the National Trust of Historic Preservation’s Main Street Center. Started in 1980, Georgia was one of six pilot program states and to date serves nearly 100 state-wide designated communities. Main Street has transformed the way communities think about their downtowns and the management of their commercial districts.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach™ is a comprehensive strategy that is tailored to meet local needs and opportunities. It encompasses work in four distinct areas — Design, Economic Restructuring, Promotion and Organization . Committees, that encourage community involvement and work to catalyze action in these impactful areas, are an important part of most Main Street Programs.

The Main Street philosophy and the Eight Guiding Principles behind this methodology make it an effective tool for community-based, grassroots revitalization efforts. These eight components ask Main Street cities to take a comprehensive approach, move in incremental steps, promote self-help, create partnerships, strive to identify and capitalize on existing assets, emphasize quality, be open to change and, most importantly, be committed to implementation. The Main Street approach has been successful in communities of all sizes, both rural and urban.

The Main Street Approach

The Main Street 4-Point Approach™ The Main Street 4-Point Approach™ is a common-sense method to address the variety of common issues and problems that challenge traditional business districts. This proven framework concentrates Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring for communities.

DESIGN Design means getting the downtown into top physical shape. Capitalizing on assets such as historic buildings and looking at the traditional downtown layout are just part of the story. An inviting atmosphere can be created through window displays, greenspaces, parking areas, signage, sidewalks, street lights and landscaping; good design conveys a visual message about what Main Street is and what it has to offer.

PROMOTION Promotion means selling the image and promise of Main Street to all prospects. By marketing the district’s unique characteristics through advertising, retail promotional activities, special events, and marketing campaigns an effective promotion strategy forges a positive image to shoppers, investors, new businesses and visitors.

ORGANIZATION Organization means getting everyone working towards common goals. The common-sense formula of a volunteer-driven program and an organizational structure of board and committees assisting professional management can ease the difficult work of building consensus and cooperation among the varied stakeholders that have an interest in the district.

ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING Economic Restructuring means finding new or better purposes for Main Street enterprises. Helping existing downtown businesses expand and recruiting new ones, a successful Main Street converts unused space into productive property and sharpens the competitiveness of its businesses. Main Street Program is part of a national network of more than 1,200 active Main Street entities. It is an essential, community-driven initiative that focuses on the revitalization of older, traditional business districts throughout the United States.

The underlying premise of the Main Street concept is to encourage economic development within the context of historic preservation in ways that are appropriate for today’s marketplace. Main Street programs advocate a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on their unique assets—distinctive architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment, personal service, local ownership and a sense of community.