Main Street Management 101
Creating and maintaining a vibrant Main Street is a commitment. It does not happen overnight and requires consistent attention and management. There are many moving parts – stakeholders with different agendas, external market and economic factors out of your control, and limited resources. The good news is there is model that has been replicated across the country for decades to help guide your initiatives and priorities.
This webinar gives you a high-level overview of the Main Street Management Four Point Approach and ideas on how you can start implementing the approach into your Main Street.
Origins of the Four Points of Main Street Management
In the late 1970s the National Trust for Historic Preservation developed a pilot program designed to address the neglect and demolition of historic downtowns. They discovered that downtowns had lost their value in these four distinct areas: economic value, physical value, social value, and civic value. This loss of value was attributed to land use policy, the rise of autos, and suburban sprawl.
This Main Street Approach was developed to address the restoration of these values simultaneously by providing a framework to guide revitalization efforts.
Every community and commercial district are different, with its own distinctive assets and sense of place, but the Main Street Approach provides a practical, adaptable framework for downtown transformation that is tailored to local conditions.
The four points of Main Street management are:
- Economic Vitality
Goal – Restore civic value through:
- Building leadership and strong organizational capacity
- Ensuring broad community engagement
- Forging partnerships across sectors
Aspects of Organization
- Community Stakeholder Support:
- Are community stakeholders in consensus on the vision for the downtown?
- Is the municipality actively supporting Main Street through resource allocation?
- Resource: Spotlight on Main in Torrington
- Public Safety
- Is public safety involved as a revitalization partner?
- Board of Directors or Advisory Board
- Is there an active, diverse Board of Directors?
- Strategic Planning and Work Plan
- Is a work plan regularly updated to align with a current strategic plan for Main Street?
- Are there multiple revenue streams to support Main Street revitalization?
- Financial Management
- Are financial management best practices followed?
- Is there full-time, paid dedicated staff person to Main Street?
- Is there a volunteer management strategy in place?
- Demonstrating Impact
- Are accomplishments regularly communicated to stakeholders?
- Messaging and Outreach
- Are multiple communication channels consistently used to update stakeholders and promote activity?
Goal – Restore economic value through:
- Build a diverse economic base
- Catalyze smart new investment
- Cultivate a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem
Aspects of Economic Vitality
- District Knowledge & Data
- Have you documented your Main Street assets?
- Historic Preservation
- Is there a historic preservation ethos?
- Does your zoning support the development of housing downtown?
- Vacant Storefronts and Lots
- Do you have a plan for vacant storefronts and lots?
- Resource: How to Fill Vacant Storefronts
- Property Owner Engagement
- Are your property owners regularly engaged?
- Attracting Development
- Do you have a “one-stop-shop” approach for developers and other Main Street investors?
- Small Business Support & Ecosystem
- How are your small businesses supported?
- Recruiting Business
- Do you have a strategic plan to recruit businesses based on needs and wants of the community?
Goal – Restore physical value through:
- Creating an inviting, inclusive atmosphere
- Celebrating historic and unique character
- Fostering accessible, people-centered public spaces
Aspects of Design
- Building façades/Historic Preservation
- What is the condition of your building façades?
- Bike Lanes & Public Transit
- How can people travel to and get around in your Main Street?
- Sidewalks & Crosswalks
- What is the condition and uses of your sidewalks?
- Green Spaces
- Are your green spaces appropriately maintained?
- Are you promoting your parking options?
- Public Art
- Is public art used to activate Main Street?
- Is there adequate Main Street lighting that is equitably, and artfully implemented?
- Resource: Light + Justice: How Main Street Lighting Reflects What – and Who – You Value
- Graffiti & Litter Removal
- How is Main Street kept clean?
- Is your downtown signage easy to read and in good condition?
- Window Displays
- Do your downtown businesses have attractive window displays?
Goal – Restore social value through:
- Marketing district’s defining assets
- Communicating unique features through storytelling
- Supporting buy-local experience
Aspects of Promotion
- Attitudes and Perceptions
- Do you keep the pulse of attitudes and perceptions?
- Resource: The Beatrice, NE Approach to Defeating Negativity
- Branding and Positioning
- Do you have consistent, strategic branding that uniquely positions your community?
- Retail Promotions
- Do you host or facilitate activities that highlight goods and services offered by your downtown businesses?
- Special Events
- Do you host strategic special events to draw in large crowds and visitors?
View the Recording
- CMSC has a video series on the Four Points. Click the links to find more in depth information on each point.
- Interested in learning more about the Four Point Approach and how to apply it to a specific situation in your community? Check out our Main Street Accelerator Program.
About Presenter Kristen Lopez
Kristen M. Lopez is Connecticut Main Street Center’s Education & Training Director. With over 11 years of experience in economic development from various roles and industries across the United States, she has always worked with adults to achieve their goals through education. Kristen is an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer alum, a StartingBloc Fellow, and Next City Vanguard Fellow. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Messiah University.
Connect with Kristen via email or phone.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 860-280-2374