Littleton, New Hampshire
New Hampshire | 2003 Great American Main Street Award® Winner | Posted: 5/19/2003
Once an industrial and commercial hub of Northern New Hampshire, Littleton enjoyed brisk commerce and vibrant community life. It came to an abrupt halt in the 1970s when 800 residents lost their manufacturing jobs. The town was economically devastated.
Littleton began its slow, but progressive journey to revitalize the downtown. In 1975 they fought hard in develop an industrial park that created nearly 1,200 jobs. They created the Littleton Pride Committee in 1985 to foster a main street revival focusing primarily on physical appearance. Still faced with a significant vacancy rate, local leaders then formed the Littleton Economic Development Task Force in 1992 to regain focus and try to reverse their downward economic spiral. They successfully became an inaugural member of the New Hampshire Main Street program in 1996 and adopted the Main Street approach to commercial district revitalization.
After six years of hard work by energetic board, committee and chamber of commerce members, Littleton and its merchants has seen a drastic reduction in vacancy (only two stores vacant), $9.5 million in construction including a major affordable housing project and an assisted living facility. Littleton Main Street facilitated 168 building improvement projects and provided design guidance to help property owners historically restore their buildings. Despite the arrival of a nearby Wal-Mart, Littleton has created 135 new jobs and 68 new businesses; established a highly successful façade grant program with 30 matching grants ($14,000 to date); leveraged more than $250,000 in improvements; completed a nightscaping project and a public arts programs; and continue to implement successful promotional campaigns.
Littleton is now poised to begin a $1.2 million Riverwalk project and is planning a $2.75 million main street reconstruction project and $2 million restoration of its Town Building and Opera House. Their state recognized their efforts with several awards, including naming Littleton the Outstanding Main Street Community of the Year in 1999.
The National Trust Main Street Center awarded Littleton a 2003 Great American Main Street Award on May 19, 2003, during the National Trust's annual Town Meeting on Main Street conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
For more information about Littleton's efforts to revitalize their historic commercial district, contact Littleton Main Street, Inc. at (603) 444-7777 or www.golittleton.com.