Why Main Street


Why Downtown is Important

Downtown is Important for Local Quality of Life


"Main Street is the economic engine, the big stage, the core of the community. Our Main Streets tell us who we are and who we were, and how the past has shaped us. We do not go to bland suburbs or enclosed shopping malls to learn about our past, explore our culture, or discover our identity. Our Main Streets are the places of shared memory where people still come together to live, work, and play."

Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation

Downtown is the heart of the community.

The health of downtown is a symbol of:

  • community economic health,
  • the private/public economic development partnership,
  • local quality of life,
  • local pride, and
  • community history and identity.

Downtown is an important community gathering place for all residents.

Main Street provides an important civic forum, where members of the community can congregate. Parades, special events, and celebrations held there reinforce intangible sense of community. Private developments like malls and strip centers can and do restrict free speech and access.

Downtown Supports Local Small Business:

The commercial district is a reflection of community image, pride, prosperity, and level of investment — critical factors in business retention and recruitment efforts.

  • The traditional commercial district is an ideal location for independent businesses, which in turn:
    • Keep profits in town (chain businesses send profits out of town)
    • Support other local businesses and services
    • Supports local families with family-owned businesses
    • Supports local community projects, such as teams and schools
    • Provide an extremely stable economic foundation, as opposed to a few large businesses and chains with no ties to stay in the community
  • Downtown provides a good incubator for new small businesses- the success of tomorrow.  Strip centers and malls are often too expensive for new entrepreneurs.

Downtown is Important for Local Economic Development

  • A vital Main Street area reduces sprawl by concentrating retail in one area and uses community resources wisely, such as infrastructure, tax dollars, and land.
  • Commercial districts are prominent employment centers. Even the smallest commercial district employs hundreds of people, and often the district is collectively the community's largest employer.
  • Main Street represents a significant portion of the community's tax base.  If the district declines, property values drop, placing more of a tax burden on other parts of town.
  • The commercial district offers convenience. Main Streets are often within walking distance of residential areas, providing easy accessibility for the community and reducing the reliance on auto-dependent shopping.
  • The commercial district represents a huge public and private investment. Imagine how much it would cost to re-create all of the buildings and public infrastructure in your commercial district.
  • A healthy Main Street core protects property values in surrounding residential neighborhoods
  • Downtown is important for industrial recruitment, because developers use downtown's heart as a gauge of local quality of life.
  • Rehabilitation of older downtown buildings supports local jobs.  In new commercial constructions the materials and labor often come from out of town.

Downtown is the historic core of the community.

  • Its buildings embody the community's past and its visual identity.
  • A historic commercial district is often a major tourist attraction.  When people travel or shop, they want to see unique places — especially ones that offer a unique shopping "experience."