Frequently Asked Questions
Need to know more? Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you don't see what you're looking for, please don't hesitate to contact us.
1. Why Main Street America™?
2. How will the brand Main Street America™ be used?
3. Are you changing the name of the National Main Street Center?
4. I am a Main Street program. Am I expected to change the name of my organization?
5. When will the new tier system go into effect?
6. Which tier will I belong to? How is that determined?
7. I’m not currently part of the Main Street network, but am interested in getting involved. What’s the process?
8. I’m an organization that uses the Main Street Approach, but there’s no Coordinating Program in my area. What are my options under the new Main Street America™ program?
9. Does being an Affiliate through the NMSC give me access to resources from my state, city, or county Coordinating Program?
1. What do you mean by a ‘beta-launch’?
2. How is this different from the old Main Street Approach? Why did you make this change?
3. This sounds cool! How do I start implementing?
4. My board is reluctant to change course. How can I convince them that this is a good idea?
5. Does my organization have to adopt the new Main Street Approach once the final updates are rolled out in 2017?
6. Will there be training materials available?
7. If you don’t require four committees, how am I supposed to structure my Main Street program?
1. Do we have to be an official Main Street program to join the National Main Street Center?
2. How long is the membership term?
3. How do I renew my membership?
4. Where should I send my membership dues?
5. I’m the new Executive Director of a Main Street program – what should I do?
6. Our contact information has changed – what should I do?
7. What is my Main Street Member ID number?
8. When does my membership expire?
9. Can I share my benefits with other members of my organization?
1. How do I register to access the Members Area?
2. I don't know my username and/or password - what should I do?
3. I received a "We're Sorry..." message when I tried to view a publication or sample document or access the Members Area - what's wrong?
4. I'm already a member of the National Main Street Center - why can't I log into the Members Area or view resources
For 35 years, Main Streets across the country have been doing important work, dedicating themselves to improving the quality of life in their communities and preserving the unique heritage of their downtowns and commercial districts. While the Main Street movement is recognized in many circles as an important player in downtown revitalization, collectively, we see an opportunity to raise the profile of the work we do and the impact we have. This new brand—the name, the logo, and the messaging—will help us do that. back to top>
Main Street America™ is the name of the national network of Coordinating Programs, Main Street communities and districts, and affiliates. Main Street America™ celebrates the breadth and diversity of our nation-wide network, creates a better system to recognize different levels of achievement, and provides a platform to broaden our movement in scale and impact. With a consistent look and strong messaging platform, this fresh new brand will help us to elevate the visibility of Main Streets’ important work all across the country.
As part of the Main Street America ™ program, we will roll out a new tier system this winter/spring, which will replace the annual Designation/Accreditation process. Ultimately, there will be three tiers: Affiliate, Accredited, and Premier (the Premier level will roll out at a later date). These three tiers will recognize different levels of commitment to revitalization, organizational capacity, and achievement of outcomes in improving downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. You can view an overview of the new tier structure. You can also review the brand guidelines here. Local Main Street programs will be able to begin using the new brand beginning in early 2016, coinciding with the annual designation process.
The goal with this new brand is also to help us grow the size of the Main Street network. We believe that the tools, expertise, and resources our movement offers have the potential to benefit many more communities all over the country. Along with the refreshed Main Street Approach framework which is intended to “fit” more types of organizations and leadership structures, the new branding platform offers several “points of entry” for communities and commercial districts to participate. back to top>
No. The National Main Street Center (NMSC) name will remain the same, and the Center will continue to use the same mark (logo) as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NMSC’s parent organization.
Main Street America™ is a program of the NMSC. Going forward, you will see the Main Street America name and logo featured prominently on our website, on social media, and in our communications. This is part of our intensive effort to build brand awareness for Main Street America and elevate the fantastic work of Main Streets all across the country.
The National Main Street Center will continue to exist as the non-profit entity managing the Main Street America Program. However the intention is to make the Main Street America™ network the focal point of our communication efforts. Moving forward, this puts the focus on the Main Street movement, where it should be! back to top>
No. This new branding does not have any implication for the name of your organization. Main Street America is a “seal” that will be awarded to your program based on your participation in the Network and compliance with established membership rules. back to top>
The first two tiers of the new tier system—Affiliate and Accredited—will roll-out in winter 2016. The top tier, Premier, will roll-out later in 2016 or early in 2017. back to top>
You can see the standards and expectations for the Affiliate and Accredited level here. If you are a member of a state, city or country Main Street Coordinating Program, staff at the Coordinating Program will work with you to determine your tier.
Note that each Coordinating Program operates independently. While all Coordinating programs offer “Accredited” level membership in the Main Street America program, your Coordinating Program may not offer an equivalent to an “Affiliate” membership level. In such circumstances, you may be eligible to receive Affiliate designation directly from the NMSC. Contact mailto:email@example.com to learn more. back to top>
I’m not currently part of the Main Street network, but am interested in getting involved. What’s the process?
There are several ways to get started. We encourage you to take a look around our website to get familiar with our network, revitalization framework, and the resources we offer.
There are three Membership Options, which cost $350/year for most organizations.
You can read more about the different membership types, and benefits offered to each, here.
Becoming a member is a great way to start taking advantage of all that Main Street America has to offer, including peer networking opportunities, online training, digital publications, discounts and more.
You should also contact your local Coordinating Program, if there is one in your area. Nationally, there are 45 Coordinating Programs operating at the State, County, and City level that offer hands-on technical assistance, training opportunities, and connections to local resources. Find your coordinating program here. back to top>
I’m an organization that uses the Main Street Approach, but there’s no Coordinating Program in my area. What are my options under the new Main Street America™ program?
The new Main Street America brand and tier system was developed in part to open the doors to many more organizations around the country that are engaging in Main Street-like comprehensive commercial district revitalization, but who have previously been unable to fully participate in the network due to their geography or other barriers. If your organization would like to be part of Main Street America, but there is no Coordinating Program in your area, you can still receive designation directly from the NMSC. Check out an overview of the tier system and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. back to top>
Does being an Affiliate through the NMSC give me access to resources from my state, city, or county Coordinating Program?
No. If you are not currently a member of your state, city or county’s Coordinating Program, becoming a Main Street America Affiliate does not grant you access to technical services or financial resources from your local Coordinating Program. We encourage you to get in touch with the Coordinating Program in your area to see what kinds of opportunities there are to get involved. back to top>
The Main Street Approach has been a successful model for older and historic commercial district revitalization for 35+ years, so we do not take lightly the process of making changes to this framework. Over the past year, we have conducted surveys, focus groups, convened a task force of experts, and engaged closely with the Main Street network and developed a revised framework that we think will be effective in helping Main Streets generate more measurable economic outcomes, become more strategic in their focus, and operate more successfully in the face of the opportunities and challenges posed by 21st century community revitalization.
While we are confident in and excited about the direction of the refreshed Main Street Approach, we recognize much learning will take place as we test this new framework over the next year. Thus, we are referring to this initial phase of work as our “beta-launch.” We will be piloting the refreshed Approach in 8-12 communities over the next year, and will share our learning with the Main Street America network throughout the year. Look for a full launch of the Refreshed Main Street Approach in early 2017. back to top>
A primer has been developed that fully explains why changes to the original Four Point approach are needed —please see this document for more details.
The changes to the Main Street Approach reflect what we’ve learned over the years working with Coordinators and local Main Streets, as well as the feedback we received from our Four Point Refresh Task Force and findings from our consultants and Main Street veterans Kennedy Smith and Josh Bloom, who are currently with CLUE Group..
The Four Point Approach remains strong and relevant, and has always been intended as a set of guidelines or framework that helps communities to achieve their comprehensive revitalization goals; however, in our research, we’ve learned that communities’ work across each of the points can become quite “siloed,” making it easy to lose sight of the districts larger vision and goals.
Additionally, many Main Street programs tend to focus too much time and effort on the components of the Main Street Approach where they feel most comfortable—most often, Design and Promotion. As a result, many struggle to be recognized as serious revitalization organizations and reach key revitalization benchmarks.
The mission of Main Street remains the same: it’s still about comprehensive revitalization, strong local leadership, and a commitment to improving the quality of life in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. The new Main Street Approach shifts the focus away from process, and towards measurable outcomes. The Four Points will remain an important component of the work of Main Streets, but instead of serving as the primary organizing principle, they are seen as part of a more comprehensive revitalization framework that support strategic work that is rooted in market understanding and community vision.
Under the refreshed Main Street model, Transformation Strategies will become the focus of a Main Street program’s work. After community visioning processes and up-front assessments of local market needs, the Main Street program or host organization will commit to two to three transformation strategies and organize its work around those strategies (as opposed to organizing people, funding, and time around the Four Points). These strategies will be rooted in a thorough understanding of the district’s existing assets and economic potential.
In graphic form, it looks like this:
We will be rolling out case studies, training materials, publications, and online learning opportunities over the next year that will help you incorporate this new approach into the work of your organization. However, because this is a ‘beta-launch’ and we will be testing this approach over the next year, a limited number of materials are currently available. Rest assured, we will have a much more robust set of resources available for the full launch of the Refresh in 2017, once our pilot work has concluded. In the meantime, we will be working with our pilot communities to test out the approach, and welcome your thoughts, questions and suggestions. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Very soon, we will have a set of Catalyst Strategies, a number “off the shelf” strategies that have proven effective in many communities that you may find resonate with your own work. These Catalyst Strategies will provide a roadmap for how to get started.
In the meantime, we encourage you to read through the materials we have developed, show them to your board, staff, and volunteers, be in touch with your peers, and let us know what you think. back to top>
While change is always hard, the modifications to the Four Point Approach should appeal to boards. The shift in focus towards strategy and outcomes means that every dollar you spend, every volunteer hour you deploy, and every committee or task-force meeting you convene is guided by a community-supported vision that will yield tangible results, enhance the economic competitiveness of your community or district, and raise the profile of your organization.
We encourage you to share the materials we’ve developed with your board. The Four Point Refresh Primer, beta Main Street Approach language, and sample Catalyst Strategy overview (several more Catalyst Strategies are forthcoming) should all help to convey that the changes underway are rooted in research, thoughtful evaluation, and ultimately, are driving towards a goal of making Main Streets more effective. back to top>
Does my organization have to adopt the new Main Street Approach once the final updates are rolled out in 2017?
You may choose to continue to use the original Main Street Approach, unless directed otherwise by your Coordinating Program. However, supporting resources available from Main Street America will be tailored to the refreshed Main Street Approach. back to top>
Yes, in the coming months, we will be releasing a series of articles, briefs, and online training opportunities that will help you incorporate the new Main Street Approach into you work. The Main Street Now conference in Milwaukee (May 23-25, 2016) will also be a great place to receive in-person, in-depth training on the new approach. back to top>
How you structure your organization remains up to you. We do not recommend a strict four committee structure, because in practice, we find that this often results in a “silo-ization” of work. But, if your committee structure works for your community, you do not need to change it unless instructed otherwise by your Coordinating Program. However, even if you retain the four committee model, Main Street America encourages you to frame the work of your committees around Transformation Strategies.
In a community that struggles with the Four Point organizational structure, relaxing the organizational chart allows the board, staff and volunteers to think creatively and implement their work differently. For example, a community could manage the Transformation Strategies at the board level and create committees or task groups, as needed. Or, you could set up a committee responsible for each Transformation Strategy and manage the projects from the Strategy committees.
Materials to assist Main Streets with re-thinking their organizational structure are under development and will be available for the full launch of the Refreshed Main Street Approach in 2017. back to top>
Our friendly staff is always happy to help answer your questions and resolve your issues. Stop by the NMSC Staff page to learn more about us and determine who you need to connect with. For all general inquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For membership issues, please call 312.610.5611 or email email@example.com. back to top>
No. Standard level membership is open to any individual or group interested in revitalizing your downtown. Our goal is to provide you with invaluable tools that will help your effort succeed—even if you’re small or just starting out! back to top>
Your membership is good for one year from the end of the month you joined us. Therefore, if you became a member January 10, 2014, your expiration date would be January 31, 2015. back to top>
Renewing your Main Street membership is easy. If you have received a renewal notice from us recently, just return the letter along with your dues check made out to National Main Street Center to the address below. If you'd like to pay be credit card, you can do so online or over the phone. Just call 312.610.5611. back to top>
Please send your dues along with a completed join or renewal form to:National Main Street CenterAttn: Membership53 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 350Chicago, IL 60604back to top>
Welcome! If you know your program is a Main Street member, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to alert us of the change. We’ll update our records and get you set up to access the Members Area. If you’re not sure whether your program has an active membership, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to check your status or issue a renewal statement if necessary. back to top>
You can update your contact information after logging into the Members Area and clicking “Update your account information.” You can also email us at email@example.com with any updates, and we’ll be happy to make the changes for you. back to top>
Your Member ID is an eight digit number (usually beginning with 7). You can find it on your renewal notices and renewal confirmation emails. If you cannot find your number, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, specify your organization, and we will gladly look it up for you. back to top>
You can find your expiration date on your renewal notices and renewal confirmation emails. If you cannot find either of these, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com, specify your organization, and we will gladly look it up for you. back to top>
The correct registration method depends on your situation:
If you've just joined as a member and are registering for the first time, click here and enter the email address you joined with for both the username and email. A link to set up your password will be sent shortly.
If you're new to your organization, but they have an existing membership, please contact us so we can update our records and transfer access to you.
If you're a staff, committee, or board member, your Executive Director (or primary contact for your organization) can share your organization's member benefits and extend access to you through their account. Learn how. back to top>
Please Note: do not use the "Register" button on the home and login pages. This will result in a duplicate account that is not linked to your Main Street membership and will not allow you to access any member-exclusive content.
If you're not a brand new member, chances are you or your organization already have an account. Please do not register for a new one, as this will result in a duplicate account. If you have forgotten either your username or password, please use the Login Assistance links here. All you'll need is the email address associated with your membership. If you do not know the registered email address, just send us a message, and we'll look it up for you. If you don't have login information because you're new to your organization, please let us know so we can update our records and transfer access to you. back to top>
I received a "We're Sorry..." message when I tried to view a publication or sample document or access the Members Area - what's wrong?
Access to these resources is a benefit of Main Street membership. Therefore, you must be a member and you must be logged in to view them. To join the National Main Street Center, click here. If you're already a member and need help logging in, see below. back to top>
I'm already a member of the National Main Street Center - why can't I log into the Members Area or view resources?
First, please note that access to these materials is linked directly to your organization's membership account. Therefore, the primary contact we have on file for your organization (generally the Executive Director) is the only person who has permission to access our members-only content. If you're a board or committee member, volunteer, or other staff you will not be able to self create an account. Your Executive Director will need to share your organization's benefits with you—learn how.
If you are the primary account holder, but you're unable to log in, this can happen for a few reasons:
Your membership may be expired. Please check your records to make sure your membership is active. If you’re unsure, let us know, and we’ll check your status for you.
The username you supplied may not linked to your membership. This happens when users self register for a username but one already exists for their membership—just let us know, and we can fix this for you. back to top>