Hagerstown, Maryland takes a community approach to revitalizing their downtown

Main Street Hagerstown (Maryland) came about as a result of two factors: the development of the city’s 10-year city center plan, and Mayor David Gysberts‘ attendance at a Maryland Municipal League conference.

He saw other cities displaying their Main Street programs, and he came back from that conference and encouraged us as staff to pursue the state designation,” said Community and Economic Development Director Jill Frick.

Main Street’s national model divides revitalization activities into four categories: business relations, design, promotion, and organization. Main Street Maryland adds a fifth, called “Clean, Safe and Green.” Volunteer work groups set goals and objectives in each category — and then do the work.

For the past year, all five work groups have been busy launching various revitalization initiatives.

We have a great group of volunteers that are really dedicated and excited to make downtown work,” Main Street Director Amanda Whitmore said. “This program really helps that public-private partnership function a lot smoother. I think together with all those elements it’s really gonna take off and be great for downtown Hagerstown.

The biggest obstacle to overcome, continued Whitmore, “is everyone’s perception that downtown is not going to be able to meet these goals that we have set out. I think that is going to be the big challenge in changing everyone’s perception (to believe) that Hagerstown is a great place, downtown is already a thriving community that just needs to enhance its outlook, its perception, more to people in the city as well as to the region.

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