Welcome to Main Street America
Over the past 35 years, the National Main Street Center has led the development of a national network of over 2,000 historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts: Main Street America™. The people who make up Main Street America are passionate advocates, dedicated volunteers, influential stakeholders, and community organizers who work every day to turn the tide in their communities—catalyzing reinvestment, creating jobs, and fostering pride of place.
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Main Street America is a program of the National Main Street Center. Learn more about the Center.
Registration for Main Street Now, a conference of the National Main Street Center, opened December 1! The conference will bring together doers, makers and innovators to address challenges facing 21st century downtowns and commercial districts, while building on collective insights into opportunities on the horizon. Together we will focus on creating places that are economically competitive and socially connected, as well as developing leaders that can direct these efforts and pave the way for communities of the future. Join us in May to learn about topics ranging from creating measurable economic impact, to placemaking, the arts, and everything in between. Learn more here.
Registration for the Main Street America Institute (MSAI) is now open! MSAI is our targeted professional development training program aimed to equip downtown and commercial district leaders with the tools they need to lead results-oriented and preservation-based community revitalization organizations. Building upon the framework of the original Main Street certification program that went on hiatus in 2008, the new and enhanced Institute will offer a comprehensive, intensive, and yet convenient curriculum structure that supports professional career development and growth through lifelong learning opportunities. Learn more.
In a recent op-ed for the Huffington Post, Matt Wagner, NMSC Vice President of Revitalization Programs, wrote about the "the growing shift within traditional 'bricks and mortar' shopping patterns." While the news headlines focused on the drop in Black Friday spending and rise in Cyber Monday spending, Small Business Saturday spending increased by 14% from last year. Wagner credits this increase to consumer desire to “[seek] places and spaces that offer more experiential and socially engaging opportunities.” This is a big win for consumers, small businesses, and Main Street America. Read the full article.
The “refreshed” Main Street Approach is characterized by a focus on inclusive engagement, district-level strategy, meaningful outcomes, and more flexible organizational structure. As part of its beta roll-out, the National Main Street Center is conducting a series of demonstration projects—in places with existing Main Street programs, as well as districts that don’t have a traditional Main Street structure in place—providing us with the opportunity to test some of our new strategies on the ground, learn from practitioners, and refine the approach. Over the course of the next year, we are excited to have the opportunity to work in Biloxi, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; Miami, Florida; Milledgeville, Georgia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; as well as Brush!, Lake City and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Read about it here.
Those in the Main Street field know full well the value of preserving and celebrating our communities' older and historic assets. It's what we do day in and day out, and we're constantly seeing the tangible benefits of this work as businesses seek out historic buildings to set up shop; as millennials and boomers increasingly chose to live in dense, older downtown districts; and tourists flock to communities with strong character and sense of place.
But all too often, we find ourselves needing to make anew the argument that older and historic downtowns are places of the future, and that preserving them makes economic sense. Vince Michael, noted leader in the field of historic preservation makes the case that “the path to the future” is indeed through the reuse and adaptation of our historic buildings. Not only does he debunk half century-old myths about the price tag of preservation, he uses Main Street’s own story of historic preservation-based community revitalization to do it. Read it here.