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A “traditional downtown” or “traditional commercial center” is defined as a grouping of 20 or more contiguous commercial parcels containing buildings of historical or architectural significance. The area must have been zoned, planned, built or used for commercial purposes for more than 50 years. The area must consist of, primarily, zero-lot-line development and have pedestrian friendly infrastructure.
The objective of the Michigan Main Street Program is to support and improve Michigan’s downtowns and traditional commercial neighborhood districts. The Michigan Main Street Program employs the Main Street Approach™, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy that encourages economic development through historic preservation. The program provides technical assistance that helps a community build partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders and encourages historic preservation. It promotes environmentally-sustainable redevelopment, integrates a community's cultural assets and fosters entrepreneurial development and downtown living.
The Four-Points® of the Michigan Main Street Program refer to proven techniques for community revitalization developed by the National Main Street Center. These techniques include Design, Economic Vitality, Promotion and Organization, all working together with community collaborations and partnerships.
When a community participates in a comprehensive revitalization effort, its traditional downtown or traditional commercial neighborhood district can experience a return to economic vitality. Benefits include:
No. The Main Street area must be either a "traditional downtown" or "traditional neighborhood commercial district." The Main Street program should focus its attention on one central area and core. Those in the surrounding area will certainly benefit from a stronger core and are encouraged to take part in the revitalization of the district. The TIF or Assessment district may be significantly larger than the Main Street area, but the Main Street area likely will not encompass the entire TIF or Assessment district but must focus on one centralized core area. Programming that benefits downtown doesn’t usually have the same impact on other areas of the city, like an industrial park. Also, a smaller district allows Main Street volunteers to see their impact soon, expanding the district as the organizational capacity and community’s density grows.
Our staff and national consultants provide technical assistance and services to local communities at three different levels: Engaged, Select, and Master. Detailed description of our services can be found on our website. Engaged services focus on building local momentum and support for downtown development. Select services begin to establish organizational capacity and downtown development programming. Master services begin to focus on strategy and sustainability of the redevelopment efforts.
No. At no point in time will a community receive a check from the Michigan Main Street Center as part of the Main Street program. MMSC staff provides technical assistance to our Main Street communities. However, communities who participate in MMS receive additional consideration for grants from Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other partner granting agencies.
When applying for the Select Level, communities are required to submit a 5-year budget completely funding the program, including staff, professional development, travel and any overhead. The budget should be a public/private partnership. MMSC does not charge a community to be a part of the program, nor do they fund any part of a community's budget. Typical funding comes from DDA and PSD’s, pledges and sponsors, memberships, contracts for services, and local municipal contributions. Communities can learn more about fund development planning and executing fundraising strategies at the Main Street Training Series.
No. The Engaged Level is not required to have staff. At the Select and Master Level, communities, regardless of their size, are required to have a full-time staff person dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown.
Though the decisions and projects in a Main Street program are carried out by volunteers, it is vital to have someone handling the day-to-day management of the program. Much of the individual’s time will be committed to volunteer management in order to get the greatest participation from community stakeholders and strengthening partnerships in the community. Trust us. If downtowns are competing with malls and box stores who have managers, then why wouldn’t we afford our downtowns the same leadership?
No. As the Main Street Director must focus the majority of their time on the Main Street district, this is not possible. The Main Street Director may be the assessment or TIF district director if the Main Street area is in that district.
Michigan Main Street assistance is more than just having 4 committees that discuss issues related to the 4 points. It is about broadening the circle of responsibility around the success of downtown and strategically leveraging community assets to have successful and sustainable community development. Besides, if you’re already doing Main Street why not access free resources to strengthen your efforts.
No. Only communities in good standing at the Selected and Master Level are allowed to use the Main Street name, which is trademarked by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Engaged Level communities are a part of the Michigan Main Street Network, but not allowed to use the name.
No. Communities at the Select & Master Level must have a hosting organization with a board, bylaws, etc. However, that organization can be a Downtown Development Authority, Corridor Improvement Authority, Principal Shopping District, Business Improvement Zone, etc., We also have several programs that function as a 501(c)3 or 501(c)6. The focus of that organization must be the revitalization of the Main Street district.
Community advocates who have not identified a host organization for their Main Street program are welcome to participate at the Engaged Level. The Main Street Training Series will discuss the pros and cons of organizational structures and strategies for identifying or establishing a host organization.
Many Michigan Main Street programs are structured as a quasi-governmental organization, like a DDA or PSD. While the districts may be two different sizes, the application of the Main Street Four Point Approach has been successful. In these cases, the TIF organization has a responsibility of implementing the projects outlined in their Downtown Development Plan for all areas of their district. However, by engaging in the Main Street program, they are choosing to use the Main Street ApproachTM to accomplish those projects. In these instances, the only services that could be offered to Main Street businesses and not businesses in the TIF district would be property specific services (Design Services, Customer Service Training, Retail Merchandising). However, these services are often best suited for businesses within a traditional commercial district anyway. Managers in TIF districts often are the Executive Director for the TIF district as well.
Main Street efforts can be initiated by anyone in the community, not just the local municipality. Citizens interested in finding ways to create more sustainable solutions to downtown development can begin to participate at the Engaged Level and slowly build the capacity to apply to be a Select Main Street community. Individuals or organizations that have engaged in the past include; Chamber of Commerce, Business Association, Historical Society, Planning Department, local service club, Downtown business or property owner, etc.