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Thread: Main Street programs vs. doing your own

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Main Street programs vs. doing your own

    Do you think using a program like Main Street for a downtown is always preferable to doing your own project using TIF Bonds, grants, etc.?

    Would be interested to hear some different views on this.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    What I can offer from experience: Running a sign and facade program with CDBG or other federal grant funds can be tedious and tiring, with all of the rules and regulations attached. Also finding staff skilled in such a program can be difficult.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66
    Do you think using a program like Main Street for a downtown is always preferable to doing your own project using TIF Bonds, grants, etc.?

    Would be interested to hear some different views on this.
    When I asked our City Administrator about joining Main Street, he said Mattoon never would because you have to follow their rules which were to restrictive for Mattoon's goals. I think he was dead wrong. One of my first questions here was about downtown redevelopment and most of the replies said "Main Street Program".

    You can offer TIF Bonds, grants, etc. and still belong to Main Street. I don't think Main Street itself offers much funding but more of guidelines. But I'm not real sure because as I said above, we will never be a part of it.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    I don't think Main Street itself offers much funding but more of guidelines.
    Also, if you follow the Main Streets model, experienced staff and peer guidance may be more available.

  5. #5
    Main Street's approach to downtown revitalization is comprehensive and pretty well proven to work. We have been a MS community for 14+ years and I would not describe it as "too strict" or "inflexible" by any means.

    If you are looking just at doing "a project", by all means you could implement it through TIF, grants et cetera without becoming a Main Street community. But if you are looking for a long-term solution to making downtown relevant again, "Main Street" is the way to go in my experience. Just make sure everyone understands that it takes time and good luck to bring downtowns up out of their doldrums, as opposed to a few aesthetic upgrades here and there.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
         
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    You can still use TIFs, bonds and grants with a Main Street Program (MSP). The MSP is designed to give communities a proven framework to use. Its been used all over the country but is based on creating unique business districts using local historic resources. The national MSP typically wants a 3 year financial commitment by the community. In return the national MSP will provide professional assistance in organization, design, and promotion. Colorado has a office that assists its local MSP members. Your state may also. There are national and state based conferences every year for training. I think its a good program. It can be your main focus of your downtown redevelopment efforts or it can be just one part of a larger approach. In my community the MSP has helped local building owners get grants, design support and tax credits for working on historic building.

  7. #7

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    Main Street is a great model, and as noted above, can incorporate all of the other tools one might use. The best reason for using Main Street is that it is a business-oriented model that emphasizes economic restructuring, cooperation among businesses, etc.

  8. #8
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Main Street is an excellent program. You can use the principles without being a part of the network. You can be as flexible as you want. If you are the downtown planner, you can use the main street model as the basis as your own professional guide to the downtown. It is a good model, and things will go better even if no one else knows what you are using as a basis for your recommendations.

    One of the main benefits is that you can take downtown business people to main street training, and they will bring an enthusiasm for revitalization. Busines people get a can do attitude when they attend main street training.

    On TIF funding, we use redevelopment funds for small downtown facade grants. Grants are good because they don't require any after-project administration. You give the money, make sure it is spent properly, inspect the results, and staff work is done. Each small improvement makes it's contribution to a better downtown. (You can use main street principles in review of facade grants.)

    One nice program is to target and grant (give away money) for certain items. I haven't pulled this off yet, but I would like to replace all the tacky sandwich signs with art-based signs. There are some good sign artists in the area, and I think we could get a real boost by having a bit of sign art in front of each business. My guess is it would cost about $500 a sign.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Thanks all

    As was noted above, hiring the position would be one hang up. I am using this project to do a little community building as there is a divide in our business community. I seem to be able to work with both sides, but it will involve some fence riding on my part.

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