On August 23, 2021, the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center reported that—since the inception of North Carolina’s Main Street program in 1980—designated Main Street communities have leveraged more than $4.08 billion in public and private investment in their downtown districts.
More than 7,000 buildings have been rehabilitated, and there has been a net gain of more than 7,000 businesses and more than 30,000 jobs.
“The North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center works every day to help communities execute asset-based economic development strategies that result in investment, business growth and job creation,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “These investment numbers represent a local commitment to small and medium-sized communities, the tremendous development that is occurring across our state, and the impact that the Main Street program has on economic development.”
Fiscal year 2020-21 was a record year for the program, with more than $453.8 million acquired in local public and private investment, representing an increase of $63 million more than the previous year, and nearly $184 million more than 2019. Local communities also experienced a net gain of 381 new businesses and 1,829 new jobs in their downtowns.
These results are from the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center’s fiscal year reports for the 66 designated Main Street and the 12 designated Small Town Main Street communities active in the two programs.
North Carolina Main Street Program
Currently, designated Main Street communities range in population from 1,400 – 96,300. 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.
Main Street communities reported the following statistics from their 2020-21 work:
- $453,839,965 in downtown public and private investment;
- 1,829 new jobs
- 381 new businesses;
- 267 building renovations;
- 411 façade improvements; and
- 101,194 volunteer hours with a value of $2,629,021.
Business development and job creation is still down as a result of COVID-19; however, business growth is up by 32% and new jobs by 31% over the previous year’s statistical data collection, demonstrating the resiliency of small business development and the recovery efforts of the local Main Street programs.
“Local Main Street programs are extremely resilient,” said N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center Director Liz Parham. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen communities rolling up their sleeves and working harder than ever to spur investment, retain businesses and jobs, and work one-on-one with new entrepreneurs.”
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.
Small Town Main Street communities reported the following statistics from their 2020-2021 work:
- $19,948,937 in downtown public and private investment;
- 38 new jobs;
- 11 new businesses;
- 27 building renovations;
- 28 facade improvements; and
- 30,223 volunteer hours with a value of $785,194.
This represents more than an $8.6 million increase in investment, and more than 10,000 additional volunteer hours than reported in the 2019-2020 Small Town Main Street statistics. Since its inception in 2003, the program boasts $148,187,702 in downtown public and private investment, nearly 2,000 jobs and a net gain of 546 businesses.
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, created by the National Main Street Center. The program incorporates transformative economic development strategies that are implemented through a Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalization: Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Vitality.
Photo of Mount Airy, NC downtown courtesy of Mount Airy Downtown, Inc..