In hundreds of cities and towns throughout the United States, community leaders are working to bring life back to Main Street. Whether it's the major downtown corridor in a small town or the commerical center of a larger city, Main Street is being rediscovered. As they work to reinforce and rekindle the economic vitality and values that Main Street stands for, communities are utilizing the Main Street approach in community revitalization.
What Is The North Carolina Main Street Center?
It is a human and technical reference center established to administer the Main Street program in North Carolina, which works to stimulate economic development within the context of historic preservation. The North Carolina Main Street Center is in the Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance. The center utilizes the approach developed by the National Trust for Historic Preseavation (NTHP) and operated through their National Main Street Center (NMSC).
In 1980, the NTHP created the National Main Street Center to share lessons learned in a revitalization pilot program. For the next three years, the NMSC conducted a national demonstration in six states, including North Carolina, that encouraged imaginative use of business and government resources to support local revitalization initiative. Since completing the demonstration project, the NMSC has grown to now include 38 states and over 1500 communities. North Carolina having completed the demonstration program, has continued to offer the Main Street program to cities and towns throughout the state and now provides direct assistance to 49 Main Street communities and indirect assistance to countless others.
What Has Main Street Accomplished?
Since the program began in the fall of 1980, North Carolina Main Street downtowns have seen $702 million of new investment and experienced a net gain of more than 9,800 jobs. They have also benefited from the renovation of 2300 buildings, and new business startups have exceeded 5,100. Nationally, Main Street communities have had $15.2 billion of new private investment in their downtowns, and North Carolina represents a significant portion of that total.
What Is The Main Street Approach?
It is a comprehensive revitalization process designed to improve all aspects of the downtown, producing both tangible and intangible benefits. Improving economic management, stengthening public participation and making downtown a fun place to visit are are as critical to Main Street's future as recruiting new business, rehabilitating buildings and expanding parking lots.
Building on downtown's inherent assets-rich architecture, personal service and traditional values - the Main Street approach has kindled entrepreneurship, downtown co-operation and civic concern. It has earned national recognition as a practical strategy appropriately scaled to a community's local resources and conditions. There are four key elements that combine to form the Main Street Four-Point approach to downtown revitalization.
Main Street Four Point Approach
Organization involves building partnerships to create a consistent revitalization program. Developing effective management and leadership downtown is a vital part of the Main Street program. Diverse groups-merchants, bankers, public officials and others-must all work together to improve downtown.
Promotion helps to re-establish downtown as an attractive place for shoppers, investors and visitors. This means not only improving sales but also rekindling community excitement and involvement. Promotion ranges from street festivals to retail merchandising, from community education to public relations.
Design works to enhance the visual quality of downtown. Attention is given to all elements of the downtown environment, not just buildings and storefronts but also public spaces, rear entries, signs, landscaping, window displays and graphic materials such as banners logos and posters.
Economic Restructuring entails strengthening the downtown's existing economic assets while diversifying its economic base: this is the programs ultimate goal. Activities include market analysis and business recruitment.
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