The Approach

The Main Street Approach


A Roadmap to Revitalization

Illinois Main Street communities use the Main Street Approach to guide their revitalization efforts. The Main Street Approach is a comprehensive framework that helps communities identify their assets and competitive advantage, and build from those strengths.  The Main Street Approach helps communities get started with revitalization, and grows with them over time.

The Approach at a Glance

  • The Main Street Approach is centered around Transformation Strategies. A Transformation Strategy articulates a focused, deliberate path to revitalizing or strengthening a downtown or commercial district’s economy.
  • A program’s work on Transformation Strategies should be organized around the Four Points: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization.
  • A revitalization program’s work – and its Transformation Strategies – need to be informed by a solid understanding of local and regional market data, and sustained and inclusive community engagement.

What Are Transformation Strategies?

Transformation Strategies – generated through meaningful community engagement and informed by an analysis of the district’s market position — help to guide a revitalization program’s work. An effective Transformation Strategy serves a particular customer segment, responds to an underserved market demand, or creates a differentiated destination.

Some "ready-to-use" strategies — called Catalyst Strategies — fall into two broad categories: those that are focused on a specific customer segment and those that are focused on an industry, product, or service segment.

Examples include:

• Workers and Residents
• Elder Friendly and Aging-in-Place
• Family-Friendly
• Agriculture Center
• Arts (performing and visual)
• College Town
• Convenience Goods and Services
• Entertainment and Nightlife
• Knowledge Economy

What Are the Four Points?


Transformation Strategies are implemented through comprehensive work in four broad areas, known as the Four Points.

focuses on capital, incentives, and other economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses, catalyze property development, and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators that drive local economies.

DESIGN supports a community’s transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the commercial district apart.

PROMOTION positions the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics.

ORGANIZATION involves creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including cultivating partnerships, community involvement, and resources for the district.

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IMS works with communities across the state to revitalize downtowns and commercial districts.


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