Our previous post outlined the history of the Main Street America movement in Wisconsin and across the United States. Here we will examine some updates since the Four Point Refresh.
With new direction, the National Main Street Center has been diligently working to supply new or updated support materials for designated Main Street America™ programs. They have also focused on developing a user-friendly web experience, and the fruits of this labor were revealed in the summer of 2017 when the new mainstreet.org was launched. The new site’s goal was to bring the resources of a national network into an easy-to-navigate portal. When you visit for the first time you’ll notice the professional photos that capture Main Street America™ programs at their best. As was shared in Chicago, the team is most proud of their members’ area, which includes a replacement for the long-in-the-tooth email listserv, as well as an updated and easily searchable solutions area featuring resource and best practice documents from around the network.
Next, NMSC went to work developing a catalog of videos. They first produced one-minute and four-minute videos providing an overview of the movement. More recently, videos were added to the library explaining the power of the movement, the Main Street Approach, Main Street America™ as a grassroots network, and the economic impact of Main Street America™. These videos are useful tools to share with stakeholders to highlight not only why you do what you do, but also that each designated Wisconsin Main Street program is part of a much larger, impactful national network.
Additional items added to the new website include printable guides in its resource center providing an overview of the Main Street America™ approach, community engagement, and soon-to-be released guides for measuring the impact of your Main Street America program and a conducting a market analysis.
In the fall of 2017, NMSC officially launched its UrbanMain program under the direction of Dionne Baux. This approach focuses on larger cities’ historic commercial districts that act as downtowns to neighborhoods. UrbanMain utilizes the Main Street America approach with some specialized resources to address the needs of these districts. The idea began with a meeting in March of 2017 in Seattle, where commercial district directors from around the country gathered to speak about challenges they faced. We are honored that Wisconsin had two representatives in attendance, Sharon Adams of Milwaukee’s Marketplace BID No. 32 and Deshea Agee of Milwaukee’s Historic King Drive BID No. 8, the newest designated Wisconsin Main Street community. Additionally, Wisconsin Main Street will partner with NMSC, one of the first such partnerships nationally, to bring UrbanMain services to Historic King Drive to supplement our current resources.
National Main Street Center is not resting on the successes of the past 35+ years with the Main Street America™ approach. Patrice Frey and her board are looking to the future with a focus on growing the movement through increased visibility, strengthening the membership program, and growing thought leadership. I can share that there is immense excitement among my colleagues from around the country about where our movement is headed.