GAMSA Application Process

GAMSA logoApplying? Join us June 7 (10-11am CT) for The Great American Main Street Awards: An Insider's Guide to Applying for and Winning GAMSA webinar. National Main Street Center staff, along with Katie Meyer from Renaissance Covington, will share details on the application process, tips for putting together a great application, and a firsthand account of what winning GAMSA can do for your community. Register >>

The Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) application has multiple components, including detailed questions on the history and successes of the Main Street program; up to 15 photos; 3-5 letters of support and other supporting documents.

Only entries that conform to the application directions will be considered. All materials submitted will become the property of the National Main Street Center, Inc. and will not be returned.

Eligibility Guidelines

The Great American Main Street Award® competition is open to all Nationally Accredited Main Street America Programs. At this time, previous winners are ineligible to apply for GAMSA. Learn more about accreditation.

All applications, accompanied with payment, submitted by midnight (CT) July 17, 2017 will be considered equally. 

Apply Now!


Please submit payment of $150 to:

National Main Street Center
53 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 350
Chicago, IL 60604

Application Criteria

  • Overall strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit;
  • Demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach in your community, with a focus on economic impacts;
  • Commitment to historic preservation;
  • Active involvement of public and private sector;
  • Model partnerships--participation of multiple groups, entities and individuals who have been involved in making Main Street a great place.

Selection Process

All applications submitted by the deadline are reviewed and scored by a jury of representatives from community revitalization, economic development, and historic preservation fields.  Applications are scored based on the criteria above. You can expect an official notification via email in mid-October on the status of your application.

Tips and Recommendations

  1. Prepare! Know the story you want to tell before you begin. What makes your community stand out from the other 600+ eligible communities? Don’t assume reviewers know your community (the opposite is more likely). Be sure answers are well edited and intended for an audience that is looking at your community for the first time.
  2. Pictures matter! Make sure you are selecting photos that support the information and story you are relaying in the application. Put some good time and effort into selecting quality photos that truly reflect your unique story. Also use your captions wisely.
  3. Take credit! The key words in GAMSA are Main Street. Reviewers and jury need to see the connection between Main Street and the success of the revitalization efforts.
  4. Don’t get discouraged. On average, GAMSA winners have applied at least two times and many have won on their third or fourth application. There is tough competition for those winning slots each year and sometimes it takes a few times to be named a winner.

Important Notes

  • All materials submitted are the property of the National Main Street Center, Inc. and will not be returned.
  • Only applications submitted in the format indicated above will be accepted.

Recognition of Winners

Winners of the Great American Main Street Award competition will be officially honored in May at the Main Street Now Conference in Kansas City. The awards ceremony will feature the winners' achievements, as well as the presentation of the award. The information on winners is kept confidential until the official announcement.

The National Main Street Center will also distribute press releases announcing the award winners to local and national media and winning communities will be featured on, as well as other media. Great American Main Street Award-winning communities also receive a plaque marking their achievement.