Main Street Coordinating Programs

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A Powerful Support System for Local Commercial District Revitalization

Since the inception of the National Main Street Center® in 1980, Main Street coordinating programs have worked in partnership with the Main Street Center to help communities implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach®. The Main Street Center established the coordinating program model and scope of services early on and has been involved with the development of every coordinating program in the nation. The cumulative work of Main Street coordinating programs has facilitated incremental local improvements that have led to substantial revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood business districts across the United States.

State, city, and regional Main Street coordinating programs provide participating local Main Street organizations with the training, tools, information, and networking they need to be successful. Structured within government programs or nonprofit organizations, coordinating programs are positioned to give local Main Street programs professional advice and guidance in using the proven Main Street Four-Point Approach® to start or strengthen their revitalization efforts.

While each Main Street coordinating program seeks to meet the needs of its clients, the primary functions of the program are to:

  • “translate” and tailor the Main Street approach according to the specific economic conditions and development tools and resources in its geographic region;
  • competitively select local communities with traditional commercial districts for participation in the Main Street program;
  • provide an appropriate scope of technical assistance and training to local Main Street organizations;
  • provide networking, advocacy, and encouragement to participating local Main Street programs;
  • serve as a liaison with the National Trust Main Street Center; and
  • identify which local programs annually meet the standards of National Main Street Program Accreditation.

One of the primary activities of a coordinating program is to identify local needs and provide corresponding on-site consulting and training services. These services – often delivered in partnership with the National Trust Main Street Center or other specialists – help establish local programs, plan revitalization strategies, develop detailed implementation plans, and solve specific problems in a Main Street district. Coordinating programs also provide advice and guidance directly to local Main Street staff and volunteers about a variety of revitalization topics and issues.

Main Street coordinating programs offer other types of assistance as well. They facilitate networking among local Main Street programs so they can share successful strategies and lessons learned through the revitalization process. Many coordinating programs work to raise public awareness about the importance of Main Street revitalization and promote public policy that supports Main Street. Many work with other public and private programs, such as Small Business Development Centers and federal, state, and regional agencies, to channel additional services and resources to meet the needs of Main Street communities. Some coordinating programs – particularly citywide Main Street programs – also provide funding for the operation and/or project budgets of local Main Street programs.

The staffing, services, and funding of Main Street coordinating programs vary, but each program has, at a minimum, a full-time professional coordinator, usually someone with strong organizational and communications skills and experience in at least two of the four work areas of the Main Street approach. Most coordinating programs have additional staff or contractors who provide specific services and specialized assistance to local programs. Many coordinating programs retain an architect to deliver basic design assistance to participating local programs, while others have staff or contractors who offer marketing and business development services.

Main Street coordinating programs provide information and feedback to the National Trust on issues and trends in the field as well data compiled about their local programs. They also serve as the National Trust's conduit for disseminating the principles and practices of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® The National Trust annually signs a Trademark License Agreement with each coordinating program to permit and delegate the use of the Main Street name, brand, methodology. In order to be recognized as a Main Street Coordinating Program Partner, a coordinating program must meet the 10 criteria for coordinating programs.

Licensed Coordinating Program Partners are encouraged to use the Main Street trademark, the National Trust for Historic Preservation trademark, and the Main Street-National Trust for Historic Preservation logo.

Individuals and representatives from state, city, or regional organizations and agencies who would like information on working with the National Trust Main Street Center to develop a Main Street coordinating program are encouraged to review the following sections: "Types of Coordinating Programs" and "How to Get Started."