President's Note

It’s such a pleasure to be joining the Main Street community, a network that has accomplished so much with its savvy approach to community revitalization throughout its 30-year history.

At our annual National Main Streets Conference in April, I had the privilege of sharing the latest reinvestment figures, which demonstrate the extent to which Main Street is a force for economic good in this country. As of year end in 2012, the Main Street program’s reinvestment in physical improvements from public and private sources totaled $55.7 billion, with a net gain in businesses of 109,664, and a net gain in jobs of 473,439. More than 236,200 buildings have been rehabilitated during the program’s 30-year history. And perhaps most impressive of all, for every dollar that a community invests in a Main Street program, it leverages an average of $18 of additional investment.

By any measure, these are remarkable figures, and make the Main Street program the most successful commercial revitalization program in the country. Yet despite this success, we know that the needs of cities and towns across America are changing, and to sustain and grow the effectiveness of Main Street, our network requires increasingly sophisticated resources, including services, content, and educational opportunities.

In just a few short weeks, in July 2013, the Center will be formally launched as a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. After three decades as a successful program of the National Trust, formation of the new subsidiary puts renewed focus on the Main Street Center, and will allow the Center to draw upon new resources—including a terrific Board of Directors—so we can better align our work with the evolving needs of communities across the country and expand the impact of the National Main Street program.

With formation of the subsidiary comes the opportunity to reevaluate the networking, information, educational, and training opportunities the Center provides. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be spending a great deal of time on the road engaging with the network of Main Street communities and getting direct feedback about how we can improve our services at the Center. (I’ll be tweeting about my Main Street travels this spring and summer, @PatriceFrey, #MainStRoadTrip.) Since I won’t be able to meet with everyone, we’ll also be sending out a survey that solicits your feedback on the Center.

In the meantime, we’re already taking some steps toward improving services at the National Main Street Center. While at the National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans, I heard frequently about the need to streamline the process for the annual reporting of reinvestment statistics, as well as the need to improve the functionality of the National Main Street Center website.

I’m pleased to announce that Mike Powe, Senior Research Manager at the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab, will be assisting the Main Street Center in assessing our process of compiling Main Street communities’ reinvestment statistics. Mike will also review the Coordinating Programs’ annual reporting process with an eye toward making it more user friendly and efficient. In the days and weeks ahead, Mike will be working with Matt Klokel and Teresa Lynch of the National Main Street Center to reach out to Coordinating Program officials with questions about the ways they collect and assemble data from local Main Street organizations. Recommendations for improving the process will be developed in late summer—look for more news on this in Main Street Weekly.

Work is also already under way to make some preliminary changes to the National Main Street Center website to enhance the user interface and make online resources more easily accessible. While a full re-design of the website will be pursued at a later date, it’s our sincere hope that these short-term changes will significantly improve the Main Street Network’s experience on the website.

I’m thrilled to be able to work so closely with you now as we chart a new path for the National Main Street Center, and I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible.