What does Wyoming Main Street do?
The Wyoming Main Street Program is a statewide program dedicated to downtown issues and the revitalization of the central business districts in the state. Wyoming Main Street provides affordable services to our member communities, tailored to their unique economic and social conditions. These communities include downtowns of all sizes, both “urban” and rural.
Is Wyoming Main Street a state agency?
Yes. Wyoming Main Street is a program of the Wyoming Rural Development Council and a division of the Wyoming Business Council. The mission of the Wyoming Business Council is to facilitate the economic growth of Wyoming.
Why should my town worry about downtown revitalization?
A well-run downtown revitalization program is an important and worthwhile investment in the economic health and quality of life in a community. A vital central business district retains and creates jobs and stabilizes and enhances downtown property values, setting up a strong tax base that is less dependent upon residential taxes for financial stability. Long-term revitalization establishes capable businesses that serve the community and provide tax revenues for local government. Downtown and central business districts also are a good incubator for new, small businesses - the building blocks of a healthy economy. A traditional commercial district is an ideal location for independent businesses, which in turn keeps profits in town, supports local families with family-owned businesses, invests in community projects such as ball teams and schools, and provides an extremely stable economic foundation. And most importantly, a strong downtown revitalization program creates a "sense of place" that is becoming such a crucial factor in 21st century economic development.
What is "sense of place?"
Wyoming communities, characterized by the traditional patterns of distinctive railroad towns and agricultural communities, inspire feelings of familiarity, belonging and emotional attachment by their residents. A sense of place describes the various characteristics that give a particular neighborhood or community its own unique flavor. Increasingly, this unique flavor, or character, of a community is being understood as a valuable, driving force behind locational decisions being made by the entrepreneurs, innovators and creators of the New Economy. Where sense of place was once considered fluff, today creating a sense of place is one of the most critical elements of an overall economic development strategy.
What is the National Main Street Center's "Four-Point Approach"
The National Main Street Center's Four Point Approach is a conceptual methodology that any community may use as the template for its downtown revitalization effort. It is based upon the implementation of four functional components as the basis of a solid downtown revitalization program. These four components are:
- Design: The improvement and enhancement of the physical environment of the central business district.
- Promotion: The creation and implementation of a unified and consistent plan for the marketing of the downtown area including the general image of the central business district, the calendar of special events that brings people downtown and the retail promotions schedule that encourages people to shop downtown.
- Organization: The development of a strong, well-trained downtown corporate entity, preferably an independent, non-profit organization, whose sole responsibility is the enhancement of the communication, volunteer development, program implementation and fundraising skills necessary to implement the four point approach.
- Economic Restructuring: The preparation of the studies necessary to fully understand the social and economic characteristics of the downtown and its trade area, so as to implement a strategy that will retain existing businesses and help strong businesses or business clusters to develop and recruit new businesses appropriate to the vision and trade area demographics of the downtown in question.
The Main Street Approach is a highly detailed and structured series of training sessions, workbooks, videos and slide shows that teaches members of your community how to “do” downtown revitalization for themselves and sustain the effort into the future.
How does my community start to work on a downtown revitalization program?
Downtown revitalization requires the operation and commitment of a broad-based coalition of public and private groups, such as businesses, civic groups, local government, financial institutions and consumers, to name just a few. Groups interested in the downtown must share the common goal of revitalization and develop a commitment to a specific long-term vision. Once a consensus is reached that revitalization is essential for the community, group leaders should contact Wyoming Main Street, who will then go to the community to address group leaders and present the basics of downtown revitalization generally and more specifically of the Main Street Approach and Program. If the group decides, through subsequent discussions, to pursue the Main Street Program, Wyoming Main Street representatives will return to the community to complete assessment and visioning processes. Wyoming Main Street may later assist with the actual application to the program which will be submitted to the Wyoming Main Street Advisory Board. After a public presentation of the application by selected finalist communities, the Board will make their recommendations to the CEO of the Wyoming Business Council.
Is this a grant?
Wyoming Main Street is not a grant program, but offers technical assistance to communities interested in revitalizing their historic downtowns.
What are the Technical Assistance services available to my community?
Options for General Assistance
For any individual or organization interested in revitalization, Wyoming Main Street provides:
Additional Technical Assistance Services include:
- Access to Information
Wyoming Main Street has an extensive lending library and resource files. Wyoming Main Street staff can also research our statewide and national resource network for information.
- Help Getting Focused
Wyoming Main Street staff are trained facilitators, and can help get your revitalization organization or effort focused through strategic and work planning sessions.
- Community Support
Wyoming Main Street offers local programs unlimited phone and e-mail consultations to provide information, guidance and support.
- Managers’ Meetings – quarterly meetings with WY MS staff that include a training component, updates from the State program and a managers’ roundtable for networking and sharing of ideas.
- Board Training – WY MS staff will facilitate Main Street Board training, including roles and responsibilities of a Main Street Board, strategic planning, goal setting and work plans
- Strategic Planning – a planning session facilitated by WY MS staff that includes mission and vision statement development, work planning and goal setting
- New Manager Hiring Advisory Assistance – State staff and specialists will be available to assist with the recruitment, interview and hiring of new program managers
- New Manager orientation – Staff and other local program managers will assist with the process of orientation of new program managers, including technical assistance for training and advice
- Annual Program Review – An on-site review of the local Main Street program conducted by State staff, regional and national experts
- Award Ceremony – First official visit to a new Certified Main Street program. Ceremony held to recognize community as an official “Wyoming Main Street Community” and presentation of signage declaring its new status.
- Reconnaissance Visit - Preliminary assessment to help develop an organization, provide board orientation, begin the hiring process, and create a unified vision for downtown.
- Organizational Visits – State staff assists with organizational issues including but not limited to roles and responsibilities of staff and board, vision, mission, and work planning assistance.
- Resource Team Visit – A team of experts in such fields as preservation architecture, business development and marketing is assembled to address a community’s specific needs.
- Year-End Evaluation – State staff and specialists visit community to assess organization’s progress in terms of work plan goals and objectives.
- Revolving Loan Fund –Main Street communities will have access to a revolving loan fund for building renovations.
- Design Assistance – Comprehensive assistance from an architect with expertise in historic commercial architecture, including façade designs, landscape, merchandising and window displays, and infrastructure improvements.
- Specialists visits – One-day visits by State staff and downtown development specialists to help communities address specific issues and concerns in any of the four Main Street areas (organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring). Examples: developing downtown housing, reuse of depots, downtown hotels, market analysis, planning special events and promotion.
If there are additional services that you feel could be of help to your community that do not appear on this list, contact us to discuss other options. We are happy to accommodate your needs.
In addition to Technical Assistance services, what are the benefits of Wyoming Main Street?
In addition to a significant savings in service costs, Wyoming Main Street provides communities with the following:
- Updates on funding sources and training programs
- Quarterly newsletters detailing the latest in downtown revitalization news.
- Discounts and/or scholarships to statewide and national conferences.
- Alerts on crucial pieces of downtown revitalization legislation.
- Free in-office consultation either in person or by phone.
- Access to the materials of the Wyoming Main Street resource center in Cheyenne.
- Your own community page on the Wyoming Main Street website.
- An advocate for your community's downtown revitalization efforts in Cheyenne.
How much will it cost to complete the Main Street program, and how do we raise the funds?
The amount of funding necessary to complete a downtown revitalization program is a function of the level of activities necessary to attain the vision for the central business district in question. Downtown revitalization is not cheap, in either dollars or in human effort. But the surest way for a community to fail at downtown revitalization is to start the process by thinking only about the money required to “complete” the process. Downtown revitalization is an ongoing effort, not a time limited project. Wyoming Main Street can assist communities with developing long-term fundraising plans to finance their downtown revitalization efforts.
What makes a successful downtown "successful"?
The answer is actually fairly simple. The downtowns that are most successful are those that have grasped the concept that downtown revitalization is not a project with a beginning and an end. Downtown is a long-term community asset that must be nurtured, maintained and promoted. Those activities don't lapse. Having in place a well developed, well educated, financially stable and sustainable downtown revitalization organization is the surest way to insure that your downtown will be successful for the long-term, not just while you are in a temporary funding program. Wyoming Main Street is committed to working with your community to help insure that your downtown revitalization effort is a successful one.