July 1, 2020 | Speak Up for Main Street: New Opportunities and Support | By: Patrice Frey, President & CEO, NMSC | Dear Main Street America Network,
Since the onset of the pandemic, every Main Street program has found innovative ways to support small businesses while recognizing that funding for our local and coordinating programs is at risk.
Your hard work under pressure has been astounding, but our research has proven the stark need for additional support, with up to 7.5 million small businesses in peril. Further research proves that minority businesses have been hardest hit nationwide, with a 41% drop in the number of Black-owned businesses in April. While aid in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program and other state-, county-, and city-specific funding has offered a lifeline, we know that the acute needs of our Main Street micro-businesses – and our Main Street programs themselves – far exceed current support mechanisms.
In mid-May, we launched Main Street Forward, a comprehensive COVID-19 resource center with tools for recovery planning, research and advocacy, including our Main Street Revitalization and Recovery Program. This $100M proposal would:
- Provide $75 million for Main Street coordinating programs at the state-, county-, or city-level to provide training, technical assistance and support to participating local programs. This funding would create opportunities for new and expanded participation in the Main Street America network in places that do not currently have a coordinating program.
- Provide up to $25 million for Main Street small businesses to support operational shifts and business model changes, such as online retail or social distance store layout, to remain viable during and after the pandemic.
Since that time, we have made significant progress in spreading the word to Congressional offices as well as targeting key Members for support, and we have received positive feedback on the viability of this ask. We are grateful to all the Main Street advocates who have participated in calls, targeted sign-on letters, and meetings. We anticipate movement soon in Congress relative to a relief package in which this program could be included. To be prepared for a push for this request, please:
- Sign-up – and spread the word – for our Main Street advocates list. Our network is much broader than our member organizations, including your local volunteers, board members, and stakeholders. Share this sign-up to help us be prepared to act.
- Participate in our free Advocacy in Focus training. Main Street America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are teaming up to provide a 5-part training online series to our network. These sessions begin live on July 7, but will be recorded and available to all.
- Place an Op-ed in your local newspaper. Local media is a fantastic way to promote the work of your organization and share the need for continued funding at all levels.
Our network has immense strength when we speak up. Two years ago, you rallied to save the Historic Tax Credit. On June 17, the Senate passed the transformative Great American Outdoors Act, which is also anticipated to pass in the House and will create jobs and aid tourism in our communities, efforts which were aided by Main Street outreach. These efforts have laid the groundwork for success as we approach federal recovery support.
Please stay tuned for more information on this important work.