About the North Carolina Main Street Center:
The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center within the N.C. Department of Commerce, is the licensed agency that is charged with administering the Main Street America program throughout the state. The N.C. Department of Commerce designates communities as a “North Carolina Main Street America Community”. Designated programs must make an annual commitment to facilitate the program principals at the local level.
The NC Main Street Center serves as the state’s leading resource in downtown revitalization. The Center promotes downtown revitalization through the state using a process based on economic development within the context of historic preservation, a concept developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and managed by the National Main Street Center. It administers the National Main Street Center’s program in North Carolina and manages the Main Street Solutions Fund program.
The N.C. Main Street Center serves three roles and operates three programs:
- To facilitate downtown revitalization through the Main Street Program
- To administer the Main Street Solutions Fund Program
- To serve as the state’s leading resource in downtown revitalization for all N.C. communities
About Main Street America
Main Street America it a volunteer-driven program that has support and participation from a variety of stakeholders in the revitalization effort. The Main Street Approach is most effective in places where community residents have a strong emotional, social, and civic connection and are motivated to get involved and make a difference. Each local Main Street program establishes a broad-based governing board that includes a variety of representatives from the community. Typically represented are business and property owners, residents, city officials, financial institutions, schools, religious institutions, civic groups, preservationists, media, etc. The board or steering committee guides policy, funding, and planning for the program. The board establish committees that correspond to the four points of the Main Street Approach — Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Vitality. Committees consist of five to 10 people, on average, who plan and implement activities in each of the four points. The local Main Street program hires a director to manage the program, coordinate volunteers, assist with program implementation, and act as a primary spokesperson for the organization. Staff members report to the governing board/steering committee.
The Main Street America Approach works where existing assets—such as older and historic buildings and local independent businesses—can be leveraged. It encourages communities to take steps to enact long term change, while also implementing short term, inexpensive and placed-based activities that attract people to the commercial core and create a sense of enthusiasm and momentum about their community. Main Street-style transformation is a combination of art and science. Communities first need to learn about the local economy, its primary drivers, and its regional context (the science), but they also need to convey that special sense of place through storytelling, preserving the older and historic structures that set it apart, broad and inclusive civic engagement, and marketing (the art). The Main Street Approach helps communities leverage both the art and science of downtown revitalization to create a better quality of life for all.