Most local MainStreet programs are nonprofit corporations created specifically to address downtown revitalization and implement MainStreet’s Four Point Approach. The organization is governed by a broad-based board of directors and typically features active standing committees in Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Positioning.
Organization involves establishing and maintaining a nonprofit corporation that works in partnership with the public and private sectors to plan and implement a comprehensive downtown revitalization strategy.
Local MainStreet programs work to engage government officials, business and property owners, residents, community institutions, schools, media, civic organizations, and many other groups and individuals in the revitalization process.
The MainStreet nonprofit corporation also gathers input and builds consensus about what should happen in downtown, raises the funds necessary to operate a MainStreet program and implements projects, recruits and retains a broad base of volunteers, employs a paid MainStreet manager to coordinate the work of the program, communicates the work of the organization and progress being made in downtown, and ensures that the program has the resources it needs to realize the community’s dreams for MainStreet.
The Design point of MainStreet consists of improving the physical appearance of the downtown district. Local MainStreet organizations develop an overall strategy of physical improvements and work to make those changes happen so that the MainStreet district is more attractive and appealing to residents, visitors, and investors.
MainStreet organizations work with business and property owners to encourage good design practices, including building maintenance, storefront renovations, building rehabilitation, effective window displays, interior merchandising, sign presentation, and other design improvements.
In partnership with the public sector, MainStreet organizations work to improve downtown’s public spaces, including streets, sidewalks, infrastructure, traffic flow, pedestrian safety, landscaping, parks, and amenities such as banners, benches, and decorative lighting.
By working to improve the tangible aspects of its district, a MainStreet organization can preserve and enhance the appearance, architectural character, quality, and function of the downtown area for generations to come.
Under the Promotion (or Marketing) point, local MainStreet programs work to enhance the image of downtown and to attract people to the district to socialize, shop at local businesses and restaurants, and enjoy local history and culture.
Local MainStreet organizations establish an overall marketing strategy and implement a variety of events that build public awareness of the downtown as a destination and attract people to the area.
By hosting special events and festivals, retail and business promotions, and marketing campaigns, MainStreet programs improve the downtown’s overall image and create a lively, inviting atmosphere featuring a variety of activities that expand downtown’s market and customer base.
4. ECONOMIC POSITIONING
Economic Positioning involves strengthening and improving the downtown economy.
Under this point, MainStreet organizations work to understand local economic forces and assets, as well as existing and potential markets. They identify and meet the needs of businesses, working to build skills and retain existing businesses in the downtown.
Local MainStreet organizations work to identify and recruit appropriate new businesses that are compatible with the community’s vision for downtown and feasible in the market. They also identify new uses for vacant or underutilized downtown property and support downtown business or property development.
Through these efforts, local MainStreet programs can, over time, imrpove the economic health and vitality of the downtown by increasing business profitability, employment, and downtown’s value.