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Author: Jennifer Hunter

V.3.3 Local Incentives and Financial Support

V.3.3 Local Incentives and Financial Support

Action

Establish grant, incentive, and/or loan programs such as microloans, facade improvement programs or energy assistance small businesses can access year round.

Why

Providing local incentives and financial support for businesses makes your Main Street more competitive and sustainable. Often small businesses are just starting out and can utilize these incentives to buy equipment or make other code related upgrades, cover startup costs or fix up their storefronts or facades. Grants, loan programs and other incentives are a great way to catalyze neighborhoods and accomplish the changes the district wants to see. Developing your own local programs allows you to tailor the incentives in a way that works best for your district. 

How

  1. Brainstorm with your community, district, Main Street stakeholders. Ask, “What is it we are trying to achieve? What is our vision?”
  2. Utilize your vision, community plans, market studies or other information gathered to help you choose which incentives you’ll offer. 
  3. Know where your annual funds come from. Tools such as Tax Increment Financing, ongoing Loan Programs and Municipal Budget lines provide continuity and resilience for your Main Street district. 
  4. Support your district with local grant programs for upgrades like facade improvement, expansion, start up expenses, relocation, equipment or marketing efforts.  These could be in partnership with local banks.
  5. Provide easy access to information about other public or private financial supports.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • There are established grant, incentive, and/or loan programs such as façade improvement programs or energy assistance small businesses can access year-round.
3
  • Grant, incentive, and/or loan programs such as façade improvement programs or energy assistance exist as funding allows.
2
  • Grant, incentive, and/or loan programs such as façade improvement programs or energy assistance may exist in crisis situations.
1
  • There are no grant, incentive, and/or loan programs available.

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V.3.2 Merchant Engagement

V.3.2 Merchant Engagement

Action

Improve engagement with your district’s merchants.

Why

Merchants are critical stakeholders in your downtown district. In an ideal world, merchants are partners and collaborators. Negative or apathetic merchants can be detrimental to the progress of a district. The goal here is to develop strong relationships with your merchants. You want to engage with them regularly and consistently, not just when you want something or have a problem.

How

Tactics to help build relationships with your merchants:

  • Send a quarterly newsletter specific to merchants
  • “Walk the streets” to meet with merchants one-on-one on Main Street
  • Have a least one merchant be on your Board of Directors or Advisory Board
  • If you have a star merchant, work them to influence other merchants

Resources

CMSC Professional Affiliates

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • Merchants are informed at least quarterly via a newsletter, email, or meeting on updates on the district
  • District officials “walk the streets” at least quarterly and engage with merchants one-on-one
  • At least one merchant is on the district Board or a Committee
3
  • Merchants are informed at least twice a year via a newsletter, email, or meeting on updates on the district
  • District officials “walk the streets” at least twice a year and engage with merchants one-on-one
2
  • Merchants are only informed in times of need or crisis via a newsletter, email, or meeting on updates on the district.
1
  • No channels to inform merchants are established.

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V.3.1 Small Business Resources

V.3.1 Small Business Resources

Action

Provide a “one-stop shop” for business owners where they can have easy access to community regulations, permit processes and all necessary contact information. 

Why

Providing business owners with the experience of a “one-stop shop” makes your Main Street and your community all that much more appealing. This is often the first experience they’ll have with you and their success will be supported by what you provide to them in these early stages. 

How

  • Decide who your main contact is for business owners. Who will shepherd them through the process from concept to grand opening? 
  • Create a Support Team and provide contact information (phone and email) for the team. This would include municipal staff that will review permit applications, as well as state and local departments and organizations that administer technical assistance and economic incentives. 
  • Be sure all information is available online in one central location including:
    • Economic Incentives
    • Zoning Regulations/Ordinances
    • Permitting
    • Demographics
    • Market Trends
    • Department Contacts information
    • Business technical assistance program resources

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Elements: Incentives, Zoning, Regulations/ordinances, Permitting, Demographics, Market trends, Department contact information, Business technical assistance program resources

4
  • Business owners experience a “one-stop-shop”
  • Information available online includes at least 6/8 of the elements
  • Information is accessible in a centralized webpage/website and with a contact number and email address to speak to a person
3
  • Information available online includes at least 4/8 of the elements
  • Information is accessible in a centralized webpage/website and with several different contact numbers to speak to a person across multiple departments
2
  • Information available online includes at least 3/8 of the elements
  • Information is accessible on several different webpages and/or contact numbers across multiple departments
1
  • Information available online includes 2/8 or less of the elements
  • Information is accessible only through calling multiple departments

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V.2.6 Attracting Development and Business

V.2.6 Attracting Development and Business

Action

Provide a warm welcome for developers and businesses by making it easy to access information regarding community vision, regulations, permitting, available economic incentives and demographics.

Why

Be stage setters! You want developers and businesses to invest in, and become part of, your Main Street community! Giving them the experience of a “one stop shop” makes your Main Street and your community all that much more appealing. This is often the first experience they’ll have with you and their success will be supported by what you provide to them in these early stages.

How

  • Be clear and intentional with the community’s (or Main Street’s) plan or vision. Communicate that vision so developers and businesses know what you’re looking for. 
  • Create economic incentives and update zoning regulations and permitting processes to remove barriers for businesses and developers
  • Make information easily accessible online for developers and businesses
  • Delegate a point person to coordinate the process for permitting and approvals

CMSC Professional Affiliates

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Elements: Incentives, Zoning, Regulations/ordinances, Permitting, Demographics, Market trends

Note: For 501©3 organizations or other non-governmental organizations, their role is to encourage a “one stop shop”

4
  • Municipality with community support maintains a vision for the type of development desired in district
  • Developers experience a “one-stop-shop”
  • Information available online includes at least 4/6 of the elements
  • Information is accessible in a centralized webpage/website and with a contact number and email address to speak to a person
3
  • Information available online includes at least 3/6 of the elements
  • Information is accessible in a centralized webpage/website and with several different contact numbers to speak to a person across multiple departments
2
  • Information available online includes at least 2/6 of the elements
  • Information is accessible on several different webpages and/or contact numbers across multiple departments
1
  • Information available online includes 1/6 or less of the elements
  • Information is accessible only through calling multiple departments

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V.2.3 Inventory of Vacant Storefronts

V.2.3 Inventory of Vacant Storefronts

Action

Develop a plan for programming and filling vacant storefronts.

Why

Programming storefronts engages the community and drives foot traffic to the downtown and helps create a dynamic, positive environment, even when there are vacancies. Filling those vacant storefronts increases property values, increases foot traffic, builds local economic value, provides necessary and desired goods and services and ensures the vibrancy the community is looking for.

How

Developing an inventory of vacant storefronts, that includes notes about ownership, available space, and other pertinent information is a good first step. It may also be helpful to utilize real estate listings and do a walking tour to identify vacant properties. Working with the landlord and other nearby businesses, utilize the vacancy inventory to make a plan for programming and filling vacancies. Other natural partners are the local Arts Council, Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce.

  1. Complete a Main Street Market Analysis
  2. Write down your “wish list” of businesses desired in vacant storefronts in line with the market analysis
  3. Create engaging window displays and/or are programmed with pop up events
  4. Encourage owners to prepare vacant space to “vanilla box” ready for future tenants
  5. Make incentives, such as local grants, available to property owners and businesses for facade and interior improvements or to cover other business start up costs

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • There is a “wish list” of businesses desired in vacant storefronts in line with market analysis.
  • In the meantime, vacant storefronts have engaging window displays and/or are programmed with pop up events.
  • Owners have prepared vacant space to “vanilla box” ready for future tenants.
3
  • There is a “wish list” of businesses desired in vacant storefronts in line with market analysis.
  • Vacant storefronts have engaging window displays and/or are programmed with pop up events.
2
  • Vacant storefronts have window displays or window coverings.
1
  • No action is taken on vacant storefronts.

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V.2.2 Inventory of Vacant Lots

V.2.2 Inventory of Vacant Lots

Action

Develop a plan for maintaining, programming and reusing vacant lots. 

Why

Cleaning, maintaining, programming and developing vacant properties can completely transform a space. Taking this action can increase the feeling of safety, reduce negative perception, invite people to spend more time in our Main Street areas and will further encourage investment in our communities. 

How

Creating an inventory of vacant parcels, that includes notes about ownership, size, known environmental contamination and other pertinent information is a good first step. The local municipal Assessors Office and Land Use Office may be a resource for this information. It may also be helpful to utilize real estate listings and do a walking tour to identify vacant properties. Other natural partners are the local departments of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Arts Council, Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce. Together a community can prioritize properties, then create a plan and budget to clean, maintain, program and reuse vacant properties.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • There is an adopted plan for future use of vacant lot(s).
  • In the meantime, the lot(s) is maintained and programmed.
3
  • Actively discussing/researching future use of vacant lot(s).
  • In the meantime, the lot(s) is maintained and programmed.
2
  • The lot(s) is maintained.
1
  • The lot(s) is not maintained and is an eyesore.

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V.2.5 Property Owner Engagement

V.2.5 Property Owner Engagement

Action

Improve engagement with your district’s property owners.

Why

Property owners are critical stakeholders in your downtown district. In the ideal world, property owners are partners and collaborators. Absentee, apathetic, or confrontational property owners can be detrimental to the progress of a district. The goal here is to develop strong relationships with your property owners. You want to engage with them regularly and consistently, not just when you want something or have a problem.

It’s also been shown that when people have access to quality downtown housing, they thrive in other areas of their life, such as work opportunities. This is especially true if their housing is located near transit, the kind commonly found in a downtown, for instance the CTfastrak rapid bus station in New Britain, or the Hartford Line train station in downtown Windsor Locks.

How

Tactics to help build relationships with your property owners:

  • Send a quarterly newsletter specific to property owners
  • “Walk the streets” to meet with property owners one-on-one on Main Street
  • Have a least one property owner be on your Board of Directors or Advisory Board
  • If you have a star property owner, work them to influence other property owners

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • Property owners are informed at least quarterly via a newsletter, email, or meeting on updates on the district
  • District officials “walk the streets” at least quarterly and engage with property owners one-on-one
  • At least one property owner is on the District Board or a Committee
3
  • Property owners are informed at least twice a year with updates on the district via a newsletter, email, or meetings
  • District officials “walk the streets” at least twice a year and engage with property owners one-on-one
2
  • Property owners are only informed in times of need or crisis via a newsletter, email, or meeting on updates on the district
1
  • No channels to inform property owners are established.

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V.2.4 District Housing

V.2.4 District Housing

Action

Understand your district’s housing, zoning, and regulations. Encourage and work with municipality to improve housing in your district.

Why

A variety of housing options conveniently located in a lively downtown is part of what makes a community thrive by offering around the clock feet-on-the-street. When people live in a downtown, they provide a ready supply of customers to local businesses, engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship – residents have access to merchants to meet their daily needs, while the residents support local businesses and contribute to the local economy.

It’s also been shown that when people have access to a quality downtown housing, they thrive in other areas of their life, such as work opportunities. This is especially true if their housing is located near transit, the kind commonly found in a downtown, for instance the CTfastrak rapid bus station in New Britain, or the Hartford Line train station in downtown Windsor Locks.

How

Housing development is a team sport.  Assembling a strong team is a critical step.  Architectural and engineering, construction, financing, marketing, and property management are the required skills.  Many communities are increasingly undertaking community-led development processes to accomplish projects that for-profit developers cannot or will not tackle.

CMSC Professional Affiliates

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Note: For 501©3 organizations or other non-governmental organizations, their role is to advocate for district housing.

4
  • Current local studies & reports support the need to develop district housing.
  • Zoning supports multifamily, mix use, and/or ADUs in district.
  • Zoning supports and encouraged mixed income rental units.
  • Zoning includes flexible parking requirements for new developments.
3
  • Current local studies & reports support the need to develop district housing.
  • Zoning supports multifamily, mix use, and/or ADUs in district.
  • Zoning supports and encouraged mixed income rental units.
2
  • Zoning supports multifamily, mix use, and/or ADUs in district.
1
  • Zoning does not support additional housing units in the district.

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V.2.1.3 Preservation Ethic

V.2.1.3 Preservation Ethic

Action

Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits of historic preservation. Create relationships, policies, training opportunities and incentives that support the district’s historic preservation goals.

Why

As with any community effort, having a support system in place for historic preservation goals will ensure success! Without the support of community involvement, knowledge, local policies, strong partnerships and funding the complexity of historic preservation can be overwhelming.

How

First, consider who your partners might be and do some outreach. Local property owners and community members, cultural organizations, municipal leaders and land use offices, the nearby Historical Society and State of Connecticut DECD and SHPO offices are all good partners. Seek out training opportunities for those interested in preservation efforts. Work with state, town and other organizations to create local plans and policies that support these efforts. Does the community have an Adaptive Reuse regulation or a Tax Increment Financing plan that supports restoration and reuse of historic properties? Learn about what grant funds are available for priority projects and consider ways to secure annual funding.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Elements: Certified Local Government (CLG), Local Preservation Ordinance, Historic Preservation Guidelines Established, Historical Preservation/Cultural Heritage Educational Programming, Incentives for Improvements to Historic Assets/Cultural Heritage, Established Relationships with State and Local Historic Organizations

4
  • Demonstrates preservation ethic with at least 5/6 elements
3
  • Demonstrates preservation ethic with at least 4/6 elements
2
  • Demonstrates preservation ethic with 3/6 or less elements
1
  • Preservation ethic is not demonstrated

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V.2.1.1 Historic Building, Landmark, & Public Spaces Inventory

V.2.1.1 Historic Building, Landmark, & Public Spaces Inventory

Action

Conduct and document your district’s historic building, landmark, and public spaces inventory.

Why

All good plans for revitalization start with taking stock of the assets your district has. This enables you to create a strategic plan that takes advantage of the assets you have, address core issues, share information more easily with stakeholders, and helps you market your district.

How

Watch the “How to Collect, Maintain, and Leverage Your Main Street Inventories” webinar and review the Main Street Inventory Quick Reference for guidance on how to conduct this inventory.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Elements: Address, Owner or Point of Contact, Owner or Point of Contact phone number, Owner or Point of Contact email address, Year erected or Date of historic significance, Condition, Registration status, Architectural style (if applicable), Architect/Designer

4
  • Documented in format that can be filtered, searched, and easily shared electronically or published digitally
  • The information documented contains at least 8/9 of the elements
3
  • Documented in a spreadsheet
  • The information documented contains at least 6/9 of the elements
2
  • Documented in a spreadsheet
  • The information documented contains 5/9 or less of the elements
1
  • Documented inventory does not exist

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Connecticut Main Street Center

P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141
860.280.2337

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