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CMSC Member Benefit

Annual Assessment

Annual Assessment for CMSC Members

Managing a downtown is a complex endeavor, with many components that must be carefully cultivated and addressed. CMSC wanted a way to quantify the work of our members, to give them a baseline of their efforts, track their successes year-over-year and be able to provide them more specific resources and guidance.

We spent several months developing the Annual Assessment matrix, a tool that measures the two overarching approaches CMSC espouses for cultivating healthy downtowns: the Four Point Approach to Main Street Management and the Six Core Components of a Vibrant Main Street.  The Four Point Approach – the how – is the nationally recognized model for managing a Main Street. The Six Core Components are the what – the foundational elements CMSC has identified as critical to a vibrant Main Street, such as lighting, public art and local businesses.

Assessment Overview
What is the purpose of the assessment?

The purpose of the Annual Assessment is to help our members identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Through the assessment, CMSC can pinpoint and recommend next steps based on the findings. It also provides a benchmark metric that can be measured year-over-year to track the progress of your district.

What is the methodology used for the scoring?

CMSC member communities are scored on each practice area based on CMSC observations of your district and through interviewing your district’s point of contact. When complete, the Assessment results in two scores:

  • Four Point Main Street Management score – This is a cumulative score of Main Street America’s four components of Main Street Management as they are applied to your district.
    • Economic Vitality – Practices that restore the district’s economic value by building a diverse economic base, catalyzing smart new investment, and cultivating a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem
    • Design – Practices that restore the district’s physical value by creating an inviting, inclusive atmosphere, celebrating historic and unique character, and fostering accessible, people-centered public spaces
    • Promotion – Practices that restore the district’s social value by marketing the district’s defining assets, communicating unique features through storytelling, and supporting the buy-local experience
    • Organization – Practices that restore the district’s civic value by building leadership and strong organizational capacity, ensuring broad community engagement, and forging partnerships across sectors
  • Six Components of a Vibrant Main Street – This score quantifies the vibrancy of your district, while recognizing that each downtown has a unique mix of these vital components.
    • Placemaking – A district’s unique sense of place
    • Economic Vitality – A district’s diverse economic base
    • Stewardship – A district’s community engagement and policies that support appropriate growth
    • Inclusiveness – A district’s focus on cultivating equitable places and leading with inclusive practices
    • Sustainability – A district’s focus on protecting natural resources
    • Connectivity – A district’s focus on connecting people to places and economic hubs

A score for each component is provided to show areas of strengths and weaknesses. The lowest score is 25% and the highest score is 100%. A score of 65% – 75% is satisfactory.

    How will the scores be used?

    The information gathered through the assessment offers a powerful tool for you to see what’s working in your community, where to target your efforts, and a way to convey your impact to town leaders, funders, and key stakeholders. Doing the assessment annually will also allow you to see your progress year over year. It will also help us better help you, since as part of the follow-up, CMSC will provide you with targeted resources and guidance based on your results.

    Some additional ways to utilize the assessment and the resulting scores include:

    • Reporting to your Board or Town Commission on the success of your efforts
    • Demonstrating the depth and breadth of the work required to cultivate a vital downtown
    • Highlighting the impact of a managed downtown and identifying specific needs to funders

    What does the Assessment process look like? How long will it take?

    • Plan to spend 2-3 hours meeting with CMSC’s Field Services staff. During this time, we’ll go over a comprehensive checklist of 82 data points, which will likely include a combination of walking tour and office visit.
    • Once the community visit is complete, we’ll input the data into the Assessment matrix which will generate overall scores for the 4 Point Approach to Main Street Management and 6 Core Components of a Vibrant Main Street. It will also identify areas that are high performing or need improvement.
    • Next CMSC will send you a letter within a week or so that includes your score, recommended next steps and specific CMSC resources to help you in specified areas. Our Field Services staff will also call you to go over the results of the letter.
    • We’ll check in with you 90 days later to see how it’s going implementing the recommended changes.

    Will members’ scores be kept private?

    • CMSC will not share your scores with anyone else without your permission. However, if you’d like to share them with your boards or commissions, that’s up to you. Please note, we may use individual or aggregate scores – without identifying specific members – in our advocacy or other work. 

    What happens if we get a low score? Is there a “failing” grade?

    • There are no right or wrong answers to the assessment questions, and there’s no “failing” grade. The scores are simply a way to benchmark your efforts, so you can determine which activities are working well and which can be improved, and for CMSC to tailor our assistance to best help you. To give an example of the range, a score of 65%-75% is considered satisfactory.

    View the Tutorial

    Next Steps

    You can schedule your Annual Assessment with CMSC’s Field Services Director, Carl Rosa. To be eligible for the assessment, you must be a member in good standing. 

    Questions? Email Carl Rosa or call him at 860-280-2075.

    © Connecticut Main Street Center 
    P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337