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Maine Development Foundation

What is Main Street

Main Street Maine

The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a community-driven, comprehensive methodology used to revitalize older, traditional business districts throughout the United States. It is a common-sense way to address the variety of issues and problems that face traditional business districts.

The foundation of the Main Street success is the Four Points and Eight Principles.

While commercial district revitalization can be addressed in many ways, the underlying premise of the Main Street approach is to encourage economic development, within the context of historic preservation that is appropriate to today’s market place. This approach advocates a return to community self-reliance, empowerment, and the rebuilding of commercial districts based on its traditional assets: unique architecture, personal service, local ownership, and a sense of community.

The Main Street approach is incremental and will not produce wholesale, immediate change. Expensive improvements, such as pedestrian malls constructed with once plentiful public funds, often fail to address the underlying causes of commercial district decline and do not always produce the desired economic results. If a long-term revitalization effort is to succeed, it will require careful attention to every aspect of downtown – a process that takes time and requires leadership and local capacity building. The Main Street program should be seen as one of many tools that a community utilizes to generate economic and entrepreneurial growth. Also, while they may be an important component of an overall plan for downtown revitalization, communities should not confuse substantial public improvement projects for the Main Street program.

A local Main Street program is not designed to tackle the bigger issues of an entire community. The focus is limited to the revitalization of the central business district. This certainly takes into account that a healthy, economically viable, and attractive downtown is important to the community at-large’s overall health and vitality, and vice versa.

Both the public and private sectors of the community must be involved and committed for a local Main Street program to succeed. Each sector has an important role to play and each must understand the other’s needs, strengths and limitations so that an effective partnership can be created.

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