2010 GAMSA Semifinalist Fairmont, West Virginia

For 16 years, Main Street Fairmont (MSF) has met the challenges of successfully redeveloping the historic commercial district while building a strong network of leaders to ensure organizational success and sustainability. By building a strong coalition of partners and working with the retail sector to provide the tools businesses need to succeed, MSF is now the "go-to" organization for community revitalization. The Veterans Square development, the preservation and rehabilitation of the Million Dollar Bridge, and the redevelopment of Traction Square have transformed the built landscape, showing residents that MSF is true to its mission of historic preservation through downtown revitalization.

The Numbers

Population: 19,097
Net number of new jobs: 247
Net number of new businesses: 83
Number of building rehabilitations: 159
Number of new buildings: 2
Vacancy rate when the program began: 50%
Vacancy rate today: 20%
Dollar amount of public investment: $54,713,990
Dollar amount of private investment: $12,143,121

In Their Own Words

Guided by the proven success of the Main Street Four Point Approach®, Main Street Fairmont stands above the crowd in facing and overcoming every challenge put in its path. Sixteen years of effort are reflected in the beauty of downtown's historic buildings, the increase of commercial district employment opportunities, traffic-calming streetscapes with banners and flowers that showcase the efforts of the City and organizations that have joined MSF’s efforts. The fresh attitudes of residents and merchants evince a new sense of pride in our town as Fairmont's citizens see that they can have a successful life while retaining in Fairmont's small-town heritage. As a result, after 30 years of decline, Fairmont's population is increasing. Our cultural venues feature historic events and recognize the hard work and dignity of our region’s coal mining and immigrant heritage, which has fostered community cohesion. Fairmonters are thinking of themselves in a new way – by actually looking forward to see how today's actions will influence future generations of citizens. MSF and volunteers have overcome the challenges of the past and and meeting the future head on. The small steps taken through the Main Street Approach have led to successes that we share with our community.