On September 6, 2022, the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center announced that—during Fiscal Year 2021-2022—designated North Carolina Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities enjoyed over $439.9 million in local private and public investment, welcomed more than 300 new businesses and added 1900 new jobs to their downtown districts.
According to the Center’s annual report, the program has leveraged more than $4.52 billion in public and private investment, rehabilitated more than 7500 buildings, and saw a net gain of nearly 7,500 businesses and more than 32,000 new jobs in their downtown districts since the inception of the Main Street program in 1980.
“The N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center team works diligently with communities from Murphy to Manteo to develop asset-based economic development strategies that generate investments, business growth, and job creation,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders.
“Our North Carolina Main Street communities are shining examples of the potential that rural communities have to create vibrant downtown districts that support economic growth for the greater community, region, and the state,” she continued.
These results are from the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center’s fiscal year reports for the 67 designated Main Street and nine designated Small Town Main Street communities active in the two programs.
N.C. Main Street Program
Currently, Main Street communities range in population from 1,500-110,000. All were under 50,000 in population at the time of designation. These communities’ partner at the local level with a Main Street director, a board of directors, and a host of community volunteers.
Designated Main Street communities use the training, education, and technical assistance that they receive from the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center to develop economic development strategies that are transformational for their downtown districts.
Main Street communities reported the following activity from their 2021-22 work:
- $425,979,103 in downtown public and private investment;
- 1820 new jobs;
- 281 new businesses;
- 282 building renovations;
- 347 façade improvements; and
- 88,260 volunteer hours valued at $2,438,624.
“Local Main Street programs have used the tools and technical assistance offered by the Center, and they have worked extremely hard to rehabilitate downtown buildings for both commercial and residential uses, to improve facades and public spaces that supports an active downtown streetscape, and to work one-on-one with entrepreneurs that are creating businesses and jobs,” said Liz Parham, director of the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center.
“We are proud of the talent and skillsets that our local Main Street directors bring to their respective programs,” she added.
Small Town Main Street Program
In addition, the designated Small Town Main Street communities have been successful in revitalizing the state’s smallest communities. The Small Town Main Street program operates in communities with populations below 5,000 that have the capacity to run a volunteer-driven downtown revitalization initiative.
Activity from the Small Town Main Street communities for 2021-22 include:
- $12,978,008 in downtown public and private investment;
- 121 new jobs;
- 20 new businesses;
- 21 building renovations;
- 13 facade improvements; and
- 15,017 volunteer hours valued at $414,920.
Since its inception in 2003, the Small Town Main Street program boasts $122,459,631 in downtown public and private investment, the creation of more than 2,000 jobs, and a net gain of 550 businesses.
The N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center is North Carolina’s state coordinating program for Main Street America, created by the National Main Street Center. Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 40 years.
It is the leading voice for preservation-based economic development and community revitalization across the country.
Made up of small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts, Main Street America represents the broad diversity that makes this country so unique.
Working together, the programs that make up the Main Street America network help to breathe new life into the places people call home.
The N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center works in regions, counties, cities, towns, downtown districts and in designated North Carolina Main Street communities, to inspire placemaking through building asset-based economic development strategies that achieve measurable results such as investment, business growth and jobs.
The Main Street staff provides strategic economic development planning and technical assistance, program guidance, and training and education to participating communities under the structure of the Main Street America™ program.
The program incorporates transformative economic development strategies that are implemented through a Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalization: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization.
Photo of the Manteo waterfront courtesy of the Town of Manteo, North Carolina.