Local Main Street Programs

Local Main Street programs are structured in a variety of ways. Most often, they are freestanding, nonprofit organizations. Others are part of an existing organization, such as a community development corporation (CDC), a business improvement district (BID), or another economic development organization. Regardless of where the community's Main Street program is housed, it must be a volunteer-driven effort that has support and participation from a variety of stakeholders in the revitalization effort.

Each local Main Street program establishes a broad-based governing board that includes a variety of representatives from the community. Typically represented are business and property owners, residents, city officials, financial institutions, schools, religious institutions, civic groups, preservationists, media, etc. The board (or steering committee in an existing organization) guides policy, funding, and planning for Main Street. An average-sized Main Street program usually has 40 to 60 active volunteers working on revitalization planning and implementation. Smaller downtown districts may have fewer active volunteers.

Local Main Street programs also establish committees that correspond to the four points of the Main Street Approach — Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring. Committees consist of five to 10 people, on average, who plan and implement activities in each of the four points. Depending on the circumstances of the commercial district, the program may also create issue-oriented task forces, such as a Parking Task Force.

The local Main Street program hires a director to manage the program, coordinate volunteers, assist with program implementation, and act as a primary spokesperson for the organization. Staff members report to the governing board/steering committee. Depending on local needs and resources, the organization may hire more than one staff member. Often, additional staff will focus on a specific aspect of the revitalization effort, such as business development, property development, or coordination of promotional activities.

Most local programs also benefit from the resources and connections available by being a Main Street Network member. Learn more about the benefits of membership.