New Research from Brookings and the National Main Street Center on the Value of Main Street Organizations

Source: New Research from Brookings and the National Main Street Center on the Value of Main Street Organizations | By: Mike Powe, Ph.D., Director of Research, NMSC, and Hanna Love, Senior Research Analyst, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings InstitutionDecember 1, 2020

The National Main Street Center and the Brookings Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking released new collaborative research focused on the role that place governance organizations, like Main Street programs, play in revitalizing rural downtowns and promoting equitable rural economic and community development. The research briefs represent in-depth insights from on-the-ground data collection conducted in three Main Street communities between February and March 2020—Emporia, Kansas; Laramie, Wyoming; and Wheeling, West Virginia.

Capturing insights directly from residents, small business owners, and leaders, the series illuminates ways local Main Street programs are at the vanguard of rural downtown revitalization and the ways Main Street can be critical to community resilience and recovery. In addition to their potential for inspiring new ideas, we hope the series can serve as a tool for Main Street organizations to advocate for greater support for your programs.

Click here to learn more and read all four of the briefs.

Webinar – How Communities are Pivoting for the Holidays

The Arizona Downtown Alliance in partnership with the Arizona Preservation Foundation hosted a FREE webinar, “How Communities are Pivoting for the Holidays” on Tuesday, November 10 ,2020 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. As we know, communities across Arizona have spent much of their pandemic downtime reimagining their events and most currently planning for upcoming holiday activities. During this webinar, representatives from four rural communities shared how they have pivoted over the last few months in response to the pandemic, talked about their efforts and programs they have implemented to support their local businesses during these challenging times, and highlighted some of the events and promotions they have planned for this year’s winter season and into 2021.

• Lani Lott, Coordinator, Arizona Downtown Alliance

• Vance Bryce, Executive Director, Graham Chamber of Commerce
• Sarah Ferry, President, Kingman Main Street
• Gina Gavazzi, Program Coordinator, Kingman Main Street
• J.J. Lamb, Executive Director, Vail Connects/Vail Preservation Society
• Holly Rakoci, Executive Director, Casa Grande Main Street
• Danny Smith, Board Member, Safford Downtown Association

State of Main Street America – 2020

Source:  Main Street America – May 2020

We Are Main Street

Welcome to the 2020 edition of State of Main, the annual publication of Main Street America. This year’s edition celebrates the broad diversity of champions that make up our powerful network and offers resources and solutions for leading revitalization efforts.  We encourage you to check out our Main Street Forward campaign for the latest guidance on how to navigate the COVID-19 recovery process.

Our Year Together

The Main Street American Network has accomplished so much together over the past 40
years—not only in good times, but also in challenging times. This is a difficult period for our country and our communities, but our collective work over these past four decades, especially our accomplishments in 2019, shows that Main Streets have the power to persevere. Now more than ever, we have a crucial role to play in supporting small businesses, maintaining and improving quality of life for all, and ultimately restoring the vitality of commercial districts.



Please note: Clickable links only work in PDF version, not in reader mode.

Thank you to the following Allied Members for their support of this year’s publication:
AirNetix, LLC | Discovery Map International, Inc | Distrx | | Resonance, LLC | Rileighs Outdoor Décor | Urality | W.F. Norman Corp

The Hyperlocal Support Small Businesses Need to Recover

Source:  The, May 1, 2020

It may be tempting, in coping with revenue losses brought on by the pandemic, for governments to reduce funding for community economic-development organizations, but it would be short-sighted.


With the recent replenishment of the Paycheck Protection Program, Congress and the Trump administration hope to avert a massive and catastrophic closure of small businesses amid the economic devastation of the COVID-19 crisis. But while the additional funds for the PPP are desperately needed, a successful rebound will require more than a one-time infusion of cash.

State and local elected officials will soon find that they are the next — and last — line of defense in protecting their communities (and tax rolls) from a failure of small businesses at a scale unlike any ever seen in this country. A recent study by our organization found that as many as 7.5 million small businesses are at risk in the coming months, especially those employing fewer than 20 people.

These businesses urgently need hyperlocal support systems that link businesses to resources that will aid them through the next 18 to 24 months. Fortunately, such support systems already exist in thousands of cities and neighborhoods across the country in the form of Main Street Programs, Business Improvement District associations and other kinds of downtown organizations. The local economic-development leaders who head these organizations are typically well known in their communities as trusted sources of information and as “connectors” to business support resources. They are also extremely knowledgeable about their communities’ business environments and the local “players,” which is invaluable in helping to broker creative solutions to get businesses through challenging times ahead.

And creative solutions will be in high demand. Small-businesses that survive stay-at-home orders, whether aided by the PPP or not, face a long and difficult recovery. Dramatic unemployment figures suggest that many Americans simply won’t have the spending power they did before the crisis. Even where consumers are able to spend, their behavior is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic norms anytime soon. After stay-at-home orders are lifted, residual concerns regarding coronavirus transmission are likely to slow the recovery of the restaurants and retail and service businesses that are the heart of communities.

Business owners are likely to encounter a confusing patchwork of local, state, federal and philanthropic funding sources, and they are going to need help identifying suitable programs and navigating often-cumbersome application processes. They will also need advocates in their corner to work with property owners and negotiate lower or deferred rents, and they’ll need assistance, where feasible, in transitioning some of their business to e-commerce. On this latter point, our research indicates that approximately two-thirds of small businesses have no online presence, a troubling figure given that online sales are likely to be a lifeline in the coming months.

The risk as state and local leaders look to trim budgets in the coming weeks and months is that they will cut any program that is not directly tied to health, human services and education. We’ve seen this before, post-Great Recession, when governments reduced or eliminated dollars for local business-support efforts. Such moves are short-sighted and have painful consequences, largely in the form of lost jobs and reductions to state and local revenue from taxes and fees. Ultimately, elected officials in many places elected to restart these programs, acknowledging that aid to local economic-development programs has a return on investment that far exceeds their cost.

In coming budget negotiations, elected officials will be wise to recognize that they are playing the long game in bringing their communities back from COVID-19. We can coax that recovery to a faster and stronger outcome if we can keep the focus of our support as hyperlocal as possible and if we can maintain the connector organizations that help small business on the ground, community by community. Ultimately, modest expenditures to support local economic-development organizations now will deliver a healthier and more stable tax base in the months and years to come.

Governing‘s opinion columns reflect the views of their authors and not necessarily those of Governing‘s editors or management.

Patrice Frey Contributor  |  @NatlMainStreet

Arizona Legislature Approves Senate Bill 1241 to Restore State Parks Heritage Fund

Source:  Arizona Heritage Alliance Press Release – May 28, 2019

Arizona Senate Bill 1241 (state parks board; heritage fund) – introduced by Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-Paradise Valley) and co-sponsored by Senators Paul Boyer, Heather Carter, Sine Kerr, Tony Navarrete, Lisa Otondo, and Frank Pratt – has been transmitted to Governor Doug Ducey for his review and signature. SB1241 restores the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund to be funded by grants, donations, and direct appropriations until Arizona Lottery encumbrances are repaid and removed.

House Bill 2701 (state parks; lottery; heritage fund) as also introduced this session by Representative Joanne Osborne (R-Buckeye) and co-sponsored by her House colleagues Andres Cano, Regina Cobb, David Cook, Tim Dunn, Charlene Fernandez, John Kavanagh, and Ben Toma, as well as Senator Sine Kerr. Although this bill whizzed through committees and the House and Senate, it was held as a budget bill. HB2701 would not only have put back the Heritage Fund into statute, but it would have provided full funding of $10 million from the Arizona Lottery – its original funding source from 1991 to 2009.

“It has been ten years since the State Parks Board was forced to cancel or suspend $11.7 million in Heritage Fund grants already awarded and contracted. It has been a long, hard journey to restore the Heritage Fund, but we finally did it,” said Janice Miano, Arizona Heritage Alliance Board President. “This year, building on past efforts, hundreds of our members and friends voiced their support for one or both bills via the Legislature’s Request to Speak system and hundreds more communicated through phone calls, emails, letters, or attendance at committee hearings.”

“If anything, we’re tenacious. We won’t give up until the State Parks Heritage Fund is 100% whole again. We’re thankful to our bill sponsors, all legislators, and our friends for making great progress this year,” said Russ Jones, Alliance Board Member and former State Representative who introduced bills in 2011 and 2012 to restore the Fund.

Formed in 1992, the Arizona Heritage Alliance is a non-profit 501-c-3 organization that is funded solely with private donations, grants, and memberships. The Alliance’s mission is to protect, preserve, and enhance Arizona’s historic, cultural, and natural heritage by protecting the integrity and voter intent of the Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund; working to restore the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund; monitoring state legislative and agency activity; and educating Arizonans about the benefits of wildlife, open space, parks, and historic and cultural resources.

Funding Opportunity: State Farm Neighborhood Assist®

The State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program awards $25,000 grants to 40 nonprofit organizations to help fund neighborhood education, safety and community develo
pment projects.  Each person may submit one cause in one of the categories:

    • EDUCATION – Education doesn’t end in the classroom. From book smarts to street smarts, we’re accepting causes that further education of any kind in your community.
    • SAFETY:  Feel more at home by improving the safety measures in your community. From sidewalks to crosswalks, we’re accepting causes of any kind that make your neighborhood a safer place.
    • COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:  Help your neighbors in your community by submitting a cause that bene ts the programs and places within it.

Submissions period opens o June 5 and open until 2,000 submissions are reached. State Farm Review Committee will then narrow the field to the top 200 submissions using a scoring rubric. Ultimately, voters will decide which community improvement projects win big. The public will have a chance to vote 10 times a day, every day for 10 days from for their favorite causes from the list of finalists.   All the information you need to submit a proposal can be found at  Good Luck and let’s make Arizona proud!

Main Street America’s Annual Trends Survey Results

Source:  Main Street America Blog – March 8, 2019


The Art in the Alley program sponsored by Farmington New Mexico Main Street. Artwork by Tommy Singer.

Thank you to everyone who completed the 2018 Main Street America Trends Survey! The 347 Main Street America members who participated provided a range of valuable information about their organizations and Main Street communities. Click here for a short summary of the survey results, and keep reading to dive into the successes and challenges Main Streets identified.

Respondents named fundraising as one of their top successes in 2018. Eighteen percent of respondents indicated that their organization’s public and private funding had both increased in 2018. Average operating budgets also grew this year. Forty-one percent of respondents reported operating budgets of over $150,000, compared to 34 percent of respondents last year. Other top successes included partnerships, local buy-in, and accolades (including grants and awards).

This year wasn’t without challenges for survey respondents, who identified store variety, inconsistent store hours, vacancies, parking, and infrastructure as their biggest obstacles. Store variety and inconsistent store hours are new to the list in 2018.

Sixty respondents identified partnerships as one of their biggest successes in 2018, and many communities highlighted real estate development partnerships in their surveys. In West Point, Mississippi, a vacant downtown grocery store was purchased by the county for a new courtroom, which will draw more people downtown. The West Point Main Street Growth Alliance will work with the county on marketing and landscape efforts as they get closer to completing construction. Gardiner Main Street in Gardiner, Maine bought five buildings and three lots two years ago, and they are now under contract with locals who will open art galleries, restaurants, a brewery, and other high-end storefronts.

Main Street programs are continuing to foster small business growth in their communities, with more than half of survey respondents reporting that 90-100% of businesses in their communities are locally-owned. Communities offered a range of exciting entrepreneurship programs in 2018, including an Entrepreneurship Day in Mesquite, Texas. The City of Mesquite offered four roundtables on planning, opening, running, and expanding businesses, with panelists who provided expertise on each subject. Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance in Harrisonburg, Virginia offered small businesses an economic gardening lite program that focused on building an online presence. Participants applied for free marketing, web design, and visual merchandising technical assistance and then applied for mini-grants to put their new ideas into action.


The Art in the Alley program sponsored by Farmington New Mexico Main Street. Artwork by Jamie Fairchild.

Main Streets also continued to nurture art and artists in their communities in 2018. Upham’s Corner Main Street in Upham, Massachusetts held a four-week workshop tailored to creative entrepreneurs and artists called “The Confident Creative Business Owner: A 4-Week Course for Creative Entrepreneurs.” Farmington Main Street in Farmington, New Mexico received a grant for an Art in the Alley project to make their alleyways more pedestrian-friendly and encourage business owners to beautify their back entryways.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this year’s survey. Main Street America members can always learn more about what other Main Street programs are doing throughout the year, share successes, or ask for help with a challenge by starting a conversation on The Point.

Main Street America’s 2019 “State of Main”

Source:  Main Street America – February 20, 2019

Welcome to the 2019 edition of State of Main, the annual publication of Main Street America. Serving as both an annual report and an industry journal, State of Main provides a detailed look back on all that we have accomplished together and offers cutting-edge ideas and trends in the commercial district revitalization field.

This year’s edition is dedicated to celebrating the incredible depth and diversity of the Main Street experience and exploring the role of place in creating stronger communities.

With articles written by industry experts on topics ranging from the transformative placemaking to inclusive entrepreneurship, the publication is brimming with tools, tips, and strategies that will help you lead a results-oriented revitalization effort.

Click here to download the publication.

Fellowship Opportunity – America Walks Walking College

Take your walking advocacy to the next level by joining other community change agents from across the US to take part in the America Walks Walking College.

America Walks invites you to apply for a 2019 Walking College Fellowship to help you expand knowledge, build connections, and develop plans to improve walkability in your community. The application opens February 1st and America Walks will host an informational webinar in February.

America Walks is an inclusive organization and is currently seeking applications from diverse individuals who are interested in getting more involved in the walking movement.

The 2019 Walking College Application Process will open on February 1st. Please visit for more information.

Grant Opportunity: Historic Preservation Fund – Revitalization Subgrant Program

Dear Partners:
An early holiday present for our partners before the official announcement is made in a new year press release.
The FY2018 Historic Preservation Fund budget allocated $5 million for the Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program. The application period for this program is now available on with a deadline of March 1, 2019. Details for the program are below and may be found at: 
Click here to download a fact sheet for the program. If you have questions please email  
Program Information: 
The Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program (HRSP) is a new Historic Preservation Fund grant program created in fiscal year 2018 that supports the rehabilitation of historic properties and foster economic development of rural communities. This program funds physical preservation projects for historic sites, including architectural and engineering services through subgrants to communities determined rural by the US Bureau of the Census.
Eligible properties must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places or determined eligible for listing at the National, State, or local level of significance and located within rural (non-urban) communities with populations less than 50,000. States, Tribes, Certified Local Governments, and non-profits will apply for funding that will in turn be subgranted to rural communities in their jurisdictions.
Grant Recipients versus Grant Projects:
Under this program, eligible grantees (nonprofits, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, State Historic Preservation Offices, or Certified Local Governments) will receive funds to be subgranted to organizations within their jurisdictions to undertake project work. Applications must come from eligible grantees; these applications will describe the proposed subgrant(s).
Eligible Applicants & Subgrant Recipients:
The range of eligible applicants is defined by the National Historic Preservation Act (54 USC 300101) is limited to:
  • Nonprofit US organizations (with or without 501(c)(3) designation)
  • Tribal Historic Preservation Offices
  • State Historic Preservation Offices
  • Certified Local Governments
These eligible applicants will make subgrants to projects involving:properties listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places properties located in areas defined as rural by the Bureau of the Census (less than 50,000 people) properties within the applicant’s jurisdiction.
What is Funded:
The program funds the rehabilitation of properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places at the National, State, or local level of significance. Projects will include physical preservation at historic sites (including architectural/engineering services). State, Tribes, Certified Local Governments, and non-profits may apply to the NPS for funding to support a subgrant program, that will in turn subgrant to preservation projects in their jurisdictions for architectural/engineering services and physical preservation.
Funding Details:
The Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program is funded through the Historic Preservation Fund using revenue from Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenue, not tax dollars.
Approximately $5 million is available for grant funding. We anticipate awarding 7 to 10 grants, ranging between $100,000 to $750,000. Matching funds are not required; however, providing match will be considered in the application scoring process.
How to Apply:
Complete application information is available on under funding opportunity number P19AS00015. Applications are completed and submitted also through States, Tribes, Certified Local Governments, and non-profits may apply for funding to support a subgrant program. This means that they will administer a program that awards funds to projects within their jurisdictions.
State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Division

National Park Service
1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop 7360
Washington, DC 20240
phone: 202-354-2020