What is National Main Street®?
We all know what our Main Street looks like today. Not all of us know what it looked like in the past or how it might look in the future. Main Street represents the economic engine and the core of the community. Main Streets are the places of shared memory where people still come together to live, work, shop and play.
When we talk about Main Street, we are thinking of real places doing real work to revitalize their economies and preserve their character. Specifically, National Main Street® is three things:
Is there a Virginia Main Street Program?
Since 1985, Virginia Main Street, a program of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), has been helping localities revitalize the economic vitality of historic downtown commercial districts. The results have been remarkable. Entrepreneurs are opening new businesses, investors are putting their money into once vacant buildings, tourist are visiting new shops and restaurants, and residents are enjoying renewed community pride.
What is the Main Street Four Point Approach™?
The guiding principles of the Main Street Four Point Approach™ are:
Promotion helps create and market a positive image based on the unique attributes of downtown districts.
Functions: Marketing Strategy, Image Development, Business Promotion, Festivals/Special Events
Market downtown's opportunities to investors, residents, customers and visitors through events, ads, publications and other activities.
Organization establishes consensus and cooperation among all downtown stakeholders, whether they are local government officials, bank merchants, civic organizations, civic-minded individuals, or downtown property owners
Functions: Fundraising, Financial Planning, Volunteer Development, Communication/Public Relations
The Organization Committee is charged with the responsibility for recruiting new members, attracting sponsors for financial support and representing the WRCMSP effectively in communications and public relations. Not the least of these is a relationship with the local media. Typical activities involve prioritization of activities on a monthly basis, volunteer orientation, develop an overall work plan and publish a quarterly newsletter.
Design promotes the enhancement of the physical appearance of historic downtowns through the rehabilitation of historic buildings and the encouragement of new construction that reinforces the character of downtown. Improves the appearance and safety of downtown's public and private spaces.
Functions: Improve Physical Image, Mainstreet Guidelines, Education/Technical Design Assistance, Regulation Support
The committee must consider and explore the history and historical precedents of downtown. Documentation of existing conditions must be made along with new ideas. At this point, the committee makes design recommendations and works with local property owners as a liaison for the MSP. A major facet of the responsibility is educating the public on good designs and principles and coordinating committee activities.
Economic Restructuring strengthens the districts' existing economic base, and expands to meet new opportunities and challenges from the changing business environment.
Functions: Market Research, Business Retention/Recruitment, Economic Development Incentives, Monitor Economic Performance
Strengthening and diversifying downtown's economic base, using market analysis and incentives as the foundation for recruitment and retention.
Why does WRC need a MSP?
Warsaw was an economic center in earlier years. In the early 1900's merchandise was brought in by steamboat on the Rappahannock River and distributed to other localities in the Northern Neck. Richmond Road was referred to as Main Street at that time. In 1927 the Downing Bridge changed the mode of transportation and Warsaw became a bustling center of commerce in the 1960's. Manufacturing added to the viability of the local economy.
However, within the past few years, economic conditions have taken a toll on Warsaw. Rappahannock Community College (RCC) has served as a stabilizing "Jewel" through much of the period of economic distress. New signs of vitality are slowly beginning to appear along Richmond Road again. New development is occurring near RCC. The potential for success is reflected in the folowing facts: Since 1985, disignated Main Street communities in the Commonwealth have generated more than $600 million in private investment, completed more than $4500 rehabilitation projects, and created more than 13,500 new jobs and 4600 new businesses.
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